Good life in carbon neutral Vaasa

A collaboration project to help the city of Vaasa, Finland become carbon neutral by 2030 was born in the Committed community.

The city of Vaasa intends to be carbon neutral within ten years. To achieve such a big goal in such a short time they need competent partners and a clear action plan. They took a major step forward in reaching their ambition with a new data collaboration project with roots in the Committed community.

The project gathers and analyses data from multiple sources, including transportation, heating and electricity consumption, giving policy makers the ability to make decisions based on hard evidence.

“A city needs up-to-date and reliable information so they can take proper action,” explains Jussi Laine of Demos Helsinki. “Resources are scarce, so cities must make every euro work quickly and efficiently. With the right information they can make a comprehensive and long-term action plan to achieve carbon neutrality, instead of only having one-off green projects here and there.”

A small city with big ambitions

The idea originated in Committed with the theme of carbon neutral cities. The Committed partners believe that cities play a critical role in our energy transition, but their ability to take action is undermined by a lack of up-to-date and reliable data.

“The Committed idea is to find concrete cases where the different partners can contribute their expertise,” explains Jyri Kivinen, Head of Business Development, Energy at TietoEVRY. “Fortum, St1 and Wärtsilä have real, physical solutions, while we at TietoEVRY have digital solutions as enablers.”

Previously TietoEVRY had faced a similar problem in healthcare, but were able to build a collaborative platform to share, analyse and use data safely among a variety of partners. Could the same approach work in energy? Wärtsilä suggested they take their idea to Vaasa, a smaller city with big ambitions. The city loved the proposal.

“It was inspiring to see how quickly Committed moved from the decision to focus on carbon neutral cities to dividing the big pictures into key areas of opportunities and challenges. We identified the key issues that will move us towards carbon neutrality and formulated a proposal to Vaasa,” continues Laine. “This took only six months, including a summer break. The incredibly wide array of insight and experience in the energy sector enabled us to make quick decisions where to focus and what steps to take.”

In the first stage Wärtsilä, TietoEVRY and the electric company Vaasan Sähkö joined the city in the project.

“The working title of the project is Good life in carbon-neutral Vaasa,” Kivinen says. “By this we mean we aren’t only lowering carbon emissions; we also want to help improve the quality of life in Vaasa. We want to engage citizens and support local businesses. In the long run our goal is to see major cross-sector benefits. We hope living in a carbon neutral city will make people happier and healthier and improve their incomes.”

Taking the show on the road

The challenge of gathering and using up-to-date and reliable data is not reserved only for Vaasa. Practically every city in the world faces the same challenge. The members of Committed hope they can replicate the solution for other cities.

“The members of Committed are always cooperating, based upon what value they can contribute at what stage,” Kivinen says. “In the first phase we learned that this makes sense. In the next phase we want to package it as a repeatable solution. More Committed members might join as we go forward.”

Link to the press release: Data helps the city of Vaasa go carbon neutral .

David J. Cord