Greater Helsinki, Finland
The Climate Street project involves public agencies, residents and businesses working together to convert sustainable ideas into practical, replicable and scalable actions.
Through the Climate Street project, the greater Helsinki region is aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption levels as well as increasing climate change adaption measures. Iso Roba (Iso Roobertinkatu) in Helsinki and Tikkuraitti and Asematie in Vantaa have been selected as areas where pilot projects have been implemented. Projects are developed and tested by local businesses, property owners, residents and public agencies. Collaborative solutions developed include crowd-sourced electric cars, electric-assisted cargo bike hire and zero food waste schemes. A set of clear and concise guidelines are produced for each pilot project to make it straight forward for other streets and cities to replicate them.
Originally published by EUROCITIES, the network of 130 European cities - PDF: http://nws.eurocities.eu/MediaShell/media/2016AwardsCitiesinactionHelsinki.pdf
This project was shortlisted for the 'EUROCITIES Awards' in 2016 in the following category: Cooperation. Learn more about the award.
Background and objectives
Learning from climate-smart initiatives in Amsterdam and Cologne that proved the value of piloting small-scale solutions in specially-chosen streets, the City of Helsinki has developed its own Climate Street project.
Iso Roba is a neighbourhood with a mix of traditional jewellery and florist shops and ‘hip’ restaurants, cafes and boutiques. It is home to a growing community of climate-aware professionals who are committed to securing the long-term environmental sustainability of the area. The street was scheduled for repairs and refurbishment which meant Climate Street could access some of the €1,300,000 allocated for improvements by the city administration for its initiatives.
The agile pilot programme is a key component of the Climate Street project. It enables experimentation with prototypes in real life situations by real users. The municipality runs competitions for proposals and acts as a matchmaker, bringing together local people, specialists, start-ups and SMEs. Climate Street purchases ideas worth €1,000 to €7,000 to support the emergence of innovative climate change actions. The winning ideas are supported for a period of 1 to 6 months to become new start-up businesses.
Ideas selected support the:
- reduction of energy consumption of residents and businesses in the street
- introduction of renewable energy sources in the area
- food waste reduction
- increase the area’s attractiveness and climate-friendly business operations
(source: Climate Street programme)
Three streets were chosen as climate-smart frontrunners and testbeds for resource-efficient, low-carbon services and products: Iso Roba, one of Helsinki’s central shopping and restaurant streets, and Tikkurila and Asematie in neighbouring Vantaa. The Climate Street team then set about working with local residents, property owners, housing associations, businesses, solution providers and NGOs to co-create and share knowledge of smart and clean solutions and implementations.
Climate Street has encouraged local residents to look at how their homes could be more energy efficient and sustainable through workshops and events. ‘Happy Houses’ workshops, run by environmental organisation Dodo brought several housing associations and residents together to share their ideas and concerns and explore opportunities and costs. Many residents have signed up for energy audits, advice on reducing their CO2 footprint and to understand their home’s solar energy potential.
The solar power campaign has been one of the most effective to date. Many residents received detailed practical guidance on installing solar panels on their roofs. The city also now has its first apartment building solar power plant in the historic downtown area. This was built in collaboration with Climate Street, who provided technical, practical and personal support to the residents involved. A similar process has been used to stimulate the transformation of the inner courtyards of housing association properties into attractive climate-adapted green urban spaces.
The issue of food waste has inspired four agile pilots and crowd-sourced solutions. From Waste to Taste uses ingredients that would otherwise be wasted for snacks it offers from its ingenious solar-powered rickshaw. A local NGO has partnered with a supermarket to reduce food waste through the use of its location-based social web service, which has been specifically designed to provide unused food for community use.
Financing and resources
Lead agencies for the project are the City of Helsinki, Vantaa and Helsinki Environment Centres, the Green Building Council, Helsinki Region Environmental Services and Aalto University. The project received funding of €820,000 from the European Regional Development Fund and €100,000 from the Helsinki City Innovation Fund.
Results and impacts
Pilot projects implemented at Iso Roba, Tikkuraitti and Asematie streets include installing eco-friendly lighting on restaurant terraces, planting climate-resilient trees, and creating underground storm water retention tanks. Further pilot projects have introduced a new method to monitor energy rates in buildings and minimize food waste in grocery stores.
Climate Street has already met many of its initial targets. Its impact owes much to the way the views of all the different stakeholders were sought from the start and how trust and engagement was carefully established. Moreover, the project has a self-sustaining future. Residents are educated and engaged and members of the business community who participated in the networking boot camps will continue to share ideas and information and partner on other projects. Young people have been inspired through events such as Earth Hour, which saw 1500 school children gather on Iso Roba to learn about climate protection.
Barriers and challenges
To become carbon neutral and resilient as rapidly as required by its Climate Roadmap, The City of Helsinki has had to accelerate the development of innovative solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and energy use. While general awareness of environmental issues is high, motivating people and organisations to take action remains a challenge. To address this, the city realised it needed to take a cooperative approach and open up the conversation to mobilise stakeholders and introduce climate-friendly choices.
Lessons learned and transferability
Climate Street has shared its learnings; nationally through the active climate network of Finland’s six largest cities, and across Europe via ClimateKIC, the Covenant of Mayors and the Smart Cities Network. Cities in neighbouring Nordic countries and Italy have expressed interest in Helsinki’s ideas-to-action model, which is transferable to any urban environment irrespective of infrastructure and building age.
Cities in action - Helsinki pilots climate-smart streets, Low-carbon testbeds activate citizens - Eurocities, November 2016.