Helsinki, Green City

Helsinki

On the website of City of Helsinki the city representatives say, that SUSTAINABLE THINKING is a driving force in the development of our capital:

"In Helsinki, environmental issues such as efficient use of energy and reduction of carbon dioxide emissions are considered extremely important. Environmental issues are crucial in the planning of new districts, and in developing the public transport system further."  

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LET´S TAKE A LOOK HOW DO WE DO HERE IN REAL LIFE! 

Helsinki has been ranked in seventh place in the European Green City Index. The city has long experience in environmental governance and Helsinki was one of the first cities in Europe governing the city according to a Sustainability Strategy and Action plan. 

Our strength is in energy efficiency, where efficient building standards guide new premises. Where we have lot to do is in relatively high carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and in overall energy consumption. We still use quite a lot of fossil fuel based energy sources.

Helsinki is doing very well also in waste management and land use. All residents from toddlers to elderly people know how to recycle and reuse and the city offers excellent opportunities to do so. Before I throw my garbage off I have sorted them in glass, metals, cardboard, paper and energy sorts. Handy!

Helsinki is a green city – literally. What I respect a lot in my hometown building policy is that new construction takes place on brownfield sites rather than green areas, so that expansion into green areas is now minimal.

We can enjoy good air quality in the city because of very effective district heating system and the replacement of coal by natural gas as a fuel for energy production.

Finland is well known as country of thousands lakes and maybe it explains why we are not that careful in water usage. In most of the cases a limited water-efficiency policy is applied, meaning that when a resident pays a monthly water fee, usually 10-25/ person she/he can use as much water as needs. Luckily this is changing and the city encourages the installation of water meters in individual houses.

Surprisingly the shortest public transport network of Europe can be found in Helsinki – but hey we are only 570 000 inhabitants in this city! However, Helsinki is a bicycle-friendly city offering a large, more than 1000 kilometers cycling network.  More than 6 per cent of all journeys made in the city annually are by bicycle and winter cycling is getting very popular in the city – just throw winter tires under your bike and ice and snow doesn’t bother at all.

More Information: European Green City Index, City of Helsinki website.

City gardening

Urban gardening extends Helsinki image as a green city. There is lots of bag and box gardens around the city and everyone interested can reserve a bag or box for gardening. In the pictures you can see a bag garden and a small greenhouse made out of waste materials in Pasila Railway Garden. This urban green spot is located on a wasteland by the main railroad tracks in Helsinki. Gardeners are producing lots of chard, carrots, dill, mint, and other delicious vegetables there.

Also many schools have small gardens in Helsinki area, which is a great way to get children understand for instance a journey of carrot from field to plate.

More information about Urban gardening in Helsinki 

A bag garden on a wasteland of main railroad tracks in Helsinki (Photo: Mia Tarhanen)

 

Harvesting tomatos in a greenhouse made of waste materials on a wasteland of main railroad tracks in Helsinki (Photo: Mia Tarhanen)

Corporate world going green in Helsinki

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Finland has developed a practical environmental programme for corporate world. This concept, WWF Green Office is easy to implement and it aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the ecological footprints of offices.

Green Office is to apply in all kind of offices – both large and small – in private companies, the public sector and other organisations.

Green Office motivates office staff to act in an environmentally friendly way with regard to everyday tasks reducing energy consumption and in applying sustainable solutions. At the same time the programme improves environmental awareness and brings cost savings. The scheme will benefit both the organisation and the environment.

Even small actions can make a difference, if enough people are involved. WWF Finland's Green Office network is comprised of 184 organisations and together 532 offices  - most of them locating in Helsinki region. So if we would color green all the WWF in Helsinki there would be plenty of them making corporate life more sustainable.

When you do business in Finland and especially in Helsinki area, you may see this logo indicating sustainable development in organization level.

More information about WWF Green Office