Circular economy and energy – sustainable growth from innovations and data to Tampere

Photo: Laura Vanzo, Visit Tampere

The City of Tampere’s objective is to be carbon neutral by 2030. This is a major objective, so fine-tuning is not enough but the City must learn to carry out matters in a different way than before. KIEPPI and EKAT, which are 6Aika projects, have developed new things in circular economy and energy efficiency.

The main output of the Partnership Model for Sustainable Neighbourhoods (KIEPPI) project is suggested by its name (KIEPPI: a “loop”): an operating model for a circular economy is being developed with the help of which it is possible to achieve the sustainability objectives in new residential areas, in particular. The cooperation is, above all, participated in by those actors who have a capacity to produce innovations and data, i.e., companies and researchers. The project will continue until the summer of 2021.

– The partnership model has already provided rules of the game for the Cities and tools for the starting of a new kind of cooperation, states Project Manager Karoliina Tuukkanen.

KIEPPI is a project for three different neighbourhoods: the districts are Hiedanranta in Tampere, Kera in Espoo and Turku Science Park. From the local perspective, Hiedanranta is a logical choice – it is a district whose construction has not begun yet, but whose sustainability objectives are very ambitious. Now is the right time to investigate how the sustainability objectives can be achieved and how the Cities can manage to involve companies at as early a phase as possible. This requires practical models, and KIEPPI functions as a playmaker in the creation of these models.

– The City of Tampere still has a great deal to learn in finding out how it can guide the operations of companies towards a circular economy. On the other hand, in the infrastructure sector, it has already been noted that if the City of Tampere starts to require operations that adhere to circular economy in its procurement, it will bring changes to the entire sector, Tuukkanen explains.

When the project ends, the models and expertise will remain in the City of Tampere’s organisation. According to Tuukkanen, the KIEPPI project has paid special attention to this right from the beginning. In practice, it has meant that project participants have become acquainted with City of Tampere actors and have studied project plans with them. This way, it is specified how the introduction of operations that adhere to a circular economy and the introduction of business collaboration models are made sensible and easy for the City of Tampere actors. It is also hoped that circular economy would become a strategic development object in Tampere and the entire Tampere Region.

– Tampere’s carbon neutrality strategy is brilliant. An equally strong policy for a circular economy should be drawn up, i.e. what it means in Tampere. This way, at its best, all actors – ranging from the City of Tampere to companies, researchers, citizens and politicians – aspire to achieve the same objectives, especially if all of them participate in the planning of the strategy, Tuukkanen says.

Pilots provide prospects for future business operations

In the Hiedanranta district, the circular economy pilots are a practical means of developing business collaboration. The objective is to create 10,000 sustainable jobs in Hiedanranta in the future, and the pilots investigate what business concepts of the future could be used in order to create these jobs. Such themes have been chosen that serve the idea of Hiedanranta: the pilots deal with the arrangement of plants, the use of recycled materials in the construction of infrastructure, as well as urban food production.

Based in Pirkkala, Netled is one of the companies that has piloted food production. It has developed vertical farming equipment that is capable of producing large crops in a small space, close to the consumer. In the KIEPPI project, Netled has tested, in Hiedanranta, a service that grows crops that have been ordered by consumers in advance. This way, the amount of food waste can be decreased and the products are fresh when consumed.

– A plantation could be owned jointly by a housing company or a district. Consumers could, as far as they are interested, participate in the cultivation, says Johanna Kivioja, Sales Manager of Netled.

A jointly owned, resource-wise local plantation is one possible element in sustainable food production. On the basis of this experiment, it appears that people have been eager to participate and share their development ideas.

– The key in these kinds of small experiments is that this way, companies are able to study business operations of the future and find out which of the experiments should be developed further, Kivioja says.

New tools for energy efficiency

Finding the best solutions has also been of key importance in the Energy Wise Cities (EKAT) project. EKAT is a large entity that has looked for new tools for improving the energy efficiency of buildings and for the development of regional energy systems. When energy efficiency is improved, climate emissions will decrease and cities will save money.

– At the same time, the participating companies have had a chance to transform energy efficient solutions into new business operations. For smaller companies, the project has also been an opportunity to speed up cooperation with other companies, when expertise from various fields has been required for pilots, explains Project Manager Ilari Rautanen.

The EKAT project carried out pilots, together with Tampereen Tilapalvelut Oy and companies, in seven service properties that were of different kinds and ages. They aptly represent the spectrum of the City of Tampere’s properties, ranging from an office building to a school, as well as from a cultural house to an indoor ballgame facility. All of them require different solutions, and based on the pilots, it can be said that modern technology is already capable of responding to these needs. In fact, there are a large number of options, which is why the project is a useful tool.

– When energy efficiency is developed to the next level in Tampere, it must be possible to experiment with the solutions. With the help of the pilots, we are able to find out which is the cheapest, easiest and most sensible way of improving energy efficiency, Rautanen states.

The utilisation rate of facilities must be included in measurements

What are the solutions developed by pilots in practice? Many of them are based on wireless sensors with which it is possible to collect data on the conditions of buildings and utilise it, for example, in the control of heating, air conditioning and lighting. When the temperature, moisture and carbon dioxide concentration are measured in buildings, it is possible to combine data and adjust the conditions appropriately.

A new feature in the EKAT pilots consists of sensors that measure presence. They provide data on the utilisation rate of facilities – the time when there are people in the facilities and their number. It is an important piece of information, as both the climate objectives and legislation steer construction in a direction in which it must be possible to control the energy consumption of buildings more precisely.

– For example, air conditioning isn’t switched on at a certain time of the day, but it depends on when people arrive in the facilities, Rautanen says.

Data visualisation was a central part of the pilots, as Excel tables are not understood by everyone. Illustrations have many users: one wants to ensure, at one glance, that everything is fine in the facilities, whereas the other makes decisions – based on the data – on the use or maintenance of the facilities. Visualisation tools that have been developed during the project will be used permanently.

Karoliina Tuukkanen is the project manager of the KIEPPI project (a 6Aika project) at the City of Tampere.

Johanna Kivioja is the sales manager of Netled Oy.

Ilari Rautanen is the project manager of the implementation for the part of the City of Tampere in the EKAT project. At EcoFellows, he has developed energy matters of housing companies by teaching on energy expert courses and by training managers of housing companies in energy matters in the Resource-efficient Residential Property Maintenance (KARE) project.

Energy Wise Cities (EKAT) – 2 May 2018–31 December 2020. The project was participated by the City of Tampere (main implementer), EcoFellows, City of Espoo, City of Helsinki, City of Oulu, City of Turku, Valonia / Regional Council of Southwest Finland, City of Vantaa.

Partnership Model for Sustainable Neighbourhoods (KIEPPI) – 1 August 2019–30 June 2021. The project is participated by the City of Tampere (main implementer), City of Espoo and Turku Science Park.

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