On Thursday 21 September we celebrate Zero Emissions Day again.
Zero Emissions Day started in Nova Scotia, Canada in 2008 and was brought to Finland by CLC in 2017. The aim of the day is to limit the use of fossil fuels and remind people of the importance of making climate-friendly consumption choices.
CLC encourages its members and other actors to develop solutions that create a positive carbon handprint. The CLC also works with other actors whose activities contribute to achieving the targets of international climate agreements. This year, the cooperation includes a high school students’ Zero Emissions Day challenge for businesses, a Zero Emissions Day event for schools in Otaniemi, Espoo and a Zero Emissions Day event in Lempäälä’s Ideapark with the theme “From talk to action”.
High school students challenge companies to communicate their most positive climate actions
High school students from Otaniemi, Lempäälä, and Tampere challenged Finnish companies to communicate their most positive climate actions of the year. In total, 33 organisations signed up to the challenge, including large and small companies and universities. 10 member organisations of CLC participated in the challenge.
During Zero Emissions Day, high school students will evaluate the climate actions entered into the competition and vote for the best one. The winner of the challenge will be rewarded with a Youth Vote: Climate Action of the Year 2023 diploma.
The climate actions reported by CLC member organisations are described below. There are significant actions to reduce emissions and increase cooperation. The challenge is a good demonstration that businesses are active players in mitigating climate change.
We encourage all companies and other organisations to communicate their climate actions on social media on 21 September using the hashtag #zeroemissionsday.
Elo is one of Finland’s largest real estate investors and partner in commercial and residential property rentals. During 2019 and 2022, the company has reduced its specific electricity consumption by 12.2% in apartments and 8.2% in commercial buildings, and its specific heat consumption by 5.8% in apartments and 7.3% in commercial buildings. Electricity is emission-free in all properties where Elo is responsible for the electricity supply, and in some properties the company also uses green district heating.
Elo has updated the sustainability programme for its properties this year. Among other things, the aim is to achieve carbon-neutral energy use by 2027, and to have at least 15 office buildings certified with in-use environmental certificates by 2030.
Elo has been measuring the carbon footprint of its listed investments since 2016. The carbon intensity (WACI, scope 1+2) of Elo’s listed equity investments has decreased by 51% and that of listed corporate bonds by 68% between 2016 and 2022.
The carbon footprint of Elo’s own operations (scope 1,2,3, excluding investments) decreased by 7.9% over the past year.
Fiskars Group’s investment in the Iittala glass factory will reduce emissions by 74%. Fiskars Group aims to reduce its climate emissions by improving operational efficiency and investing in renewable energy. As part of the transition to lower emission production, the company is making an energy investment of around €10 million in the Iittala glass factory in Hämeenlinna, where Iittala’s iconic products are manufactured for sale in Finland and international markets.
The energy investment started this year and is expected to be completed during 2026. The investment includes replacing the existing natural gas-fired furnaces with renewable electricity and high-tech melting furnaces. This will reduce the glassworks’ annual carbon dioxide emissions by 74% by the end of 2026. In addition to reducing the plant’s CO2 emissions, the new furnaces will also reduce the energy consumption of the glass melting furnaces by 67%. The glass melting furnaces account for most of the total energy consumption of the plant. After completing all phases, this investment will reduce Fiskars Group’s Scope 1 emissions by 26% and its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 19% compared to 2021.
Fiskars Group has set a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its own operations (Scope 1 and 2) by 60% compared to 2017 levels by 2030. In addition, the company has committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its transport and distribution activities (Scope 3) by 30% compared to 2018 levels. The Science Based Targets initiative has validated the company’s science-based emissions reduction target.
The Fortum air-to-water heat pump plant, completed this year in Vermo, Espoo, provides carbon-neutral district heating for the residents of Espoo, Kauniainen and Kirkkonummi. The plant pumps heat from the air using emission-free electricity and recycles it into the district heating network – the principle is the same as for domestic air-to-water heat pumps, but on a huge scale. The plant is the largest district heating plant in Finland.
The Vermo plant is an important step in Fortum’s Espoo Clean Heat programme, which aims to phase out coal in district heating by 2025 at the latest and to make district heating carbon-neutral by 2029. The programme will move away from burning fossil fuels towards district heating, for example from air and waste heat from data centres and wastewater at various locations in the district heating network. District heating will convert the heat production of around a quarter of a million customers into a carbon dioxide-free system.
In addition to district heating, Vermo’s air-to-water heat pump plant can provide cooling for buildings in the surrounding area. The cooling process always generates heat, which is also recycled back into the district heating system.
Plants like Vermo can be built almost anywhere to provide heating and cooling – there is an unlimited supply of air. The Ministry of Employment and the Economy has also recognised the importance of the plant, granting investment aid for the Vermo plant in 2020. The aim of the aid was to promote a voluntary and accelerated phase-out of coal in district heating.
Helen closed the Hanasaari B power plant as planned at the beginning of this year on 1 April. With the closure of the Hanasaari power plant, Helen’s carbon dioxide emissions decreased by 40% and Helsinki’s emissions by 20%. At national level, Hanasaari has accounted for around two per cent of Finland’s emissions in recent years. Helen’s goal is carbon-neutral energy production by 2030.
In heat production, Helen is increasingly investing in the utilisation of various types of waste heat and environmental heat with heat pumps. Helen produces clean electricity from hydro, wind and solar power, among other sources, in which the company has invested heavily in recent years.
University of Helsinki (Hyytiälä Forestry Field Station)
The new building at the Hyytiälä Forestry Field Station is a high-quality, long-lasting wooden building that meets the objectives of sustainable development. The new building will also serve as an innovative and open research platform (Living Lab), enabling multidisciplinary research and teaching on the sustainability, climate and well-being impacts of the built environment.
The new building will be used to measure aerosol concentrations, among other things. These measurements complement well the activities of the SMEAR II research station, which is located next to the forest station. The health and well-being impacts of the old wooden buildings at the station were investigated in a smart ring pilot project in the summer, and this experiment is planned to be extended to the new wooden building in the autumn. The new building will use a combination of geothermal heating and electricity as its energy source.
Neste is committed to reducing and compensating its employees’ business-related air travel with its own Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), a programme called Neste Flies with SAF (NWFS). As part of the programme, Neste estimates the amount of aviation fuel and emissions caused by its employees’ business travel, and then estimates the amount of SAF needed to cover the employees’ air travel. Neste then supplies its partner airlines with renewable aviation fuel, which enables them to reduce aviation emissions by replacing fossil aviation fuel.
Neste launched the NWFS programme in 2020 and has, for example, supplied 680 tonnes of SAF to Finnair between 2020 and 2021, which is estimated to have reduced air travel emissions by around 2,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent (tCO2e).
This reduction has been calculated by comparing the life-cycle emissions of SAF with the life-cycle emissions of fossil aviation fuel. Other airline partners of Neste include KLM, Lufthansa, and Norwegian. Building on the NWFS programme, Neste also provides a service to other companies to use SAF to reduce the climate impact of air travel by their own employees.
University of Oulu
According to the University of Oulu‘s strategy, the University aims to achieve sustainable development in all its activities. The University is committed to implementing various emission reduction measures and monitors the development of its carbon footprint annually.
The roof of the Linnanmaa campus is equipped with a photovoltaic system. Some of the solar panels are used not only for electricity generation but also for research purposes. Solar electricity production has started in autumn 2020. With the amount of electricity produced by the solar panels of the University of Oulu per year, an electric car could drive about 5,900 km, i.e. four times from Hanko to Utsjoki. This would replace about 400 litres of fossil fuel and avoid 1,000 kg of CO2 emissions.
S Group (HOK-Elanto)
In May, the Hyvikkihevi concept was introduced in HOK-Elanto‘s Alepa stores. A similar operating model has been in use in S-markets for some time. The supermarkets’ Hyvikkihevi sell fully edible fruit and vegetables that have seen their best days at a reduced price of EUR per kilo. In S-markets, on the other hand, the products are packed in ready-to-eat bags in two-euro boxes for customers. For example, fruit and vegetables that are a bit battered but still usable are put together in a box, which the customer can buy for a total price of two euros. The goodie-box is a great way to avoid completely inedible fruit and vegetables going to waste. It is a practice that greatly benefits nature, the customer and HOK-Elanto.
Last year, more than 200,000 fruit and vegetable boxes were sold in HOK-Elanto’s S-markets. Since the Hyvikkihevi planting in early summer, around 5,000 kilos of fruit and vegetables have been saved every week. Fruit and vegetables that are completely unsaleable are used to produce biogas.
HOK-Elanto has an ambitious target to halve its food waste by 2030 compared to 2020. The mission is to ensure that all the products ordered are sold and eaten, as too much edible food in the food chain still ends up as organic waste and compost. In addition to Hyvikkihevi, many different ways of minimising food waste have been in place for a long time and have already helped HOK-Elanto to reduce waste. In addition to the Hyvikkihevi, products such as red-marked products sold at a 30%-60% discount play an important role. In addition, the extended opening hours of the stores have contributed positively to the product rotation by spreading the shopping events more evenly over the different opening hours.
S Group (Pirkanmaan Osuuskauppa)
Brand new in Finland: clothing repair, tuning, local fashion and second-hand in a department store.
In March 2023, an unprecedented sustainable fashion floor opened in Sokos Tampere. The floor is home to Emmy’s first second-hand fashion flagship store, with a second-hand department of more than 1,000 products and a special focus on presentation to ensure that a wide variety of sizes, colours and styles are available. Additionally, the sustainable fashion floor offers a whole new range of services, such as repair, tuning and maintenance of clothes and footwear by Sustinare, fashion made from recycled materials and various courses. The DesignOnTampere section of local fashion designers has also been further expanded. There is also a collection point for waste textiles from Pirkanmaa Jätehuolto and Nextile.
Tampere Sokos has taken a major step forward in sustainable consumption together with pioneering partners and customers. Big players have an important responsibility to develop and create new kinds of sustainable fashion and circular economy services for a better tomorrow. Sokos helps people find their own style and make sustainable clothing choices, and develops new ways to bring sustainable consumption solutions closer to everyday life. Promoting the circular economy is an important part of Pirkanmaa Osuuskauppa’s responsibility programme and one of the key objectives of the programme is to promote sustainable consumption together with customers.
University of Tampere
Building a more sustainable world requires cooperation! The University of Tampere has published a report highlighting its community to ensure that the wide range of research and teaching on sustainability and responsibility finds its way into the world around us. The University hopes to highlight research and initiatives that may not necessarily reach the spotlight but that could be an important piece in solving the climate crisis and spark new collaborations.
Ideally, the report will bring together researchers from the University of Tampere with businesses, local government, organisations, the media or even other researchers, and provide the keys to new collaborations. On the one hand, the University wants to encourage and celebrate the sustainability actions of its community, and on the other hand, show its students that they are responsible for building a more sustainable world. At the same time, the University of Tampere has also included the actions of its students, who are an integral part of the community and builders of the future.
The plan is that the report will become a living document for the sustainability actions taking place at the University of Tampere. The report may sound boring, but if done right it will create hope, it will show the University’s handprint for a more sustainable and responsible world and it will also be an expression of support and an invitation to do more together.
University of Turku
The University of Turku has joined Kiertonet.fi, the online public sector auction service. The service provides an efficient and transparent sales channel for the property that is no longer needed. This gives used assets a new life and reduces the environmental impact.
Kiertonet.fi is open to individuals, companies and public actors, including university staff and students, who can buy products for their personal use with their own money. The sales service is available to all university departments as needed.
Mutual Pension Insurance Company Varma’s climate action: climate-friendly investment portfolio
Climate change mitigation is among Varma’s sustainability targets. The company is responsible for the pensions of around 980,000 Finns. In order for Varma to carry its responsibilities now and in the future, pension assets must be invested responsibly and securely in a way that is sustainable for future generations.
Varma’s solution is to take climate change into account in all its investment activities. Varma has, for example, built a climate-friendly investment portfolio consisting of investments that mitigate climate change. These may include companies or funds that develop or finance products that substitute fossil fuels or new technologies to reduce emissions. The climate-friendly portfolio had €13.6 billion invested at the end of the year. This already represents almost a quarter of Varma’s total investment portfolio of €57.4 billion.
Varma has invested in renewable energy sources such as wind, hydro and solar power, and uses electricity generated by hundreds of solar panels installed on Varma’s roof at its headquarters in Salmisaari, Helsinki.