Espoo’s goal is to decrease its emissions by 40% by 2030 and to be carbon neutral by 2050.

Growth, but not at any price

Greenhouse gas emissions per capita in Espoo have been decreasing steadily since 2012, and to keep this trend on track, Espoo is currently preparing its new Climate Programme. 

Espoo’s goal is to decrease its emissions by 40% by 2030 and to be carbon neutral by 2050. 

Big goals. However, Espoo has a plan. It has joined forces with the other Capital Area cities–Helsinki and Vantaa–in a Smart & Clean partnership project, which starts in 2016 and lasts until 2020. Under its umbrella, 20–30 significant development programmes will be launched to promote cooperation between companies and public actors and develop their competence and capacity to implement impactful projects. 

Smart & Clean focuses on transportation, built environment, energy, water and waste management as well as sustainable lifestyle. 

Engaging residents is the key 

Espoo was also the first city in Finland to join the Society’s Commitment to Sustainable Development, in which communities, companies and the public sector commit to work towards developing the “Finland we want in 2050”, each with their own sustainable development promises. 

“However, if we want to achieve truly sustainable results, the idea of sustainability needs to be taken to the individual level,” says Sirpa Hertell, Chair of the Sustainable Development programme and City Councillor. 

With this in mind, the Mayor inspires the City of Espoo’s employees to do their bit in an innovation competition. In 2014, the competition was won by Energy Information System (EIS), a browser-based service which compares different energy forms. Based on its information, residents and organisations can make informed and sustainable energy choices. 

The service helps tackle the greatest source of emissions in Espoo—caused by heating and electrical energy for buildings. 

Transportation emissions will decrease significantly with the arrival of the metro to Espoo, as it is to be run with renewable energy. The metros connecting traffic will be a test bed for electric buses, also using renewable energy. Together, they will help cut emissions significantly. 

To further reduce emissions, Espoo aims to have 15% of all journeys made by bicycle by 2024. Today, cycling accounts for 8% of journeys. This requires that travelling by bicycle will be made easier through traffic planning, the construction of bicycle parking areas and maintenance of bicycle routes. 




Partnering with the community 

On the renovation front, Suvela area in Espoo is trialling energy counselling to help housing companies get started with energy-efficiency renovations. The operating model offers impartial and high-quality counselling to reduce housing costs and increase comfort of living. 

Next year, Espoo intends to permanently establish the counselling service as part of its operations. 

To promote sustainable lifestyles, Espoo partners with artisans, craftspeople, startups, students and Espoo residents. 

“The idea is to together create a workspace located in the Kera area that acts as a test bed for new circular economy solutions and products and as a meeting ground for people. The workspace’s proximity to the metropolitan area recycling centre encourages the use of recycled materials,” says Sirpa Hertell. 

Home of new sustainable solutions 

Espoo, true to its innovative nature, is also the home for the development of new sustainable solutions. 

The emission-free utilisation of geothermal heat is currently being trialled in Otaniemi, Espoo. In a few years, Deep Heat from kilometres deep holes may produce up to 10% of the total district heating needs in Espoo. 

The Aalto University in Otaniemi is leading the way in the development of black silicon solar cells, which promise to trap light more efficiently than traditional cells. This could increase the yield of solar cells. Researchers at the Aalto University have broken the efficiency record for black silicon solar cells in 2015. 

The Technical Research Centre for Finland provides a world-class piloting centre, called Bioruukki, where new bioeconomy enabling technologies can turn into concrete results. BIoruukki is located in Kivenlahti, where the final stop of the continuation of the West Metro line will be located.

Sirpa Hertell is a member of the City council of the City of Espoo and the Chair of the Sustainable Development Programme. She is a member of the Committee of the Regions and Vice Chair of its Commission for the Environment, Climate Change and Energy.