For a sustainable city

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2020-12-14 11:02

Vertical farming, two-way energy systems, local reuse of waste. A sustainable city works best locally, in cooperation with companies.

A green wall built for urban gardening in the yard of a former logistics building in Kera, Espoo, with garden boxes in the background

Intended for urban gardening, the wall of herbs located in Kera, Espoo, is an opportunity for urban food production, adding a touch of green to urban conditions where space is tight.

The city is a huge source of emissions, both at the construction stage and after completion. Globally, cities account for up to 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions; construction and buildings alone account for 39%. The circular economy is increasingly important in the cities of the future as an effective means of achieving carbon neutrality. There is a desire to invest in the sustainability of mobility, material flows and energy production.

The role of companies in achieving these objectives is essential. The KIEPPI project encourages cities and companies to work together to promote the circular economy at the city district level. The project involves Turku Science Park, Kera in Espoo and Hiedanranta in Tampere. Hiedanranta, the area of the former Lielahti pulp mill, will become a regional centre in western Tampere. Reijo Väliharju, Development Manager at Hiedanrannan Kehitys Oy, says that Hiedanranta’s circular economy targets are ambitious. For example, it is hoped that the area will produce more energy than it consumes. “Solar and geothermal energy will play an important role in the energy solutions. The energy systems must be two-way; buildings can buy or sell energy. This makes it possible to take advantage of the fact that residential and office buildings need energy at different times.”

Circular economy services highlighted in Kera, Espoo

Located in Espoo, Kera is a future residential and work area that has previously been used by industry and logistics. Although there are not many people living in Kera yet, services utilising the circular economy have already been established in the area, such as the large Kierrätyskeskus shop selling recycled goods. “The idea is that, when the area is built over the next twenty years, residents who consider circular economy services important will also come here,” says Pekka Vikkula, Project Manager at the City of Espoo. In Kera, the KIEPPI project has led not only to cooperation between companies and the city, but also to inter-company cooperation. “One of the signs of the project’s success is the fact that the companies already networked with each other without any guidance,” Vikkula says.

Science Park expanding

The development of Turku Science Park is one of the three priority projects of the City of Turku. In the future, the railway and motorway in the area will be covered by a deck, which will enable the expansion of the Science Park in the Itäharju district in Turku. The leader of the priority project, Timo Laine from Turun Teknologia- ja Tiedepuisto Oy, considers it important that services promoting the circular economy are tested in the area. “The KIEPPI project surveys the challenges faced by property owners and larger companies in the area, seeking solutions for them from growth companies,” Laine explains.

Experimental urban food

Urban food production serving the neighbourhood is a development target in all the city districts involved in the project. Urban food production is already under way in the Tyyppaamo facility in Hiedanranta as well as in the former S Group logistics buildings in Kera. Kera has, for example, mushroom cultivation, organic production and craft breweries. InnoGreen has developed an outdoor green wall that uses rainwater and can also be used to grow useful plants.

Tyyppaamo is testing Netled Oy’s vertical cultivation service concept, where consumers and restaurants can order the desired amount of lettuce or herbs in advance. There is also a robotic cultivation system developed by Meluta Oy, with automatic sowing, watering and weeding. In Turku, Original Sokos Hotel Kupittaa is developing local food cooperation with Plantui, the producer of an indoor garden concept. The other end of the material flow is also in use. Once composted, both human waste and craft brewery mash are suitable as substrates for landscaping. Social sustainability is enhanced by the possibility of urban gardening. Outdoor green walls, on the other hand, bring greenery and comfort to even narrow urban spaces.

Text: Elina Teerijoki

Photo: Olli Urpela

The article was published in Helsingin Sanomat’s Kiertotalous supplement on 2 December 2020. The article is available in Finnish at

KIEPPI project

In the project, Kera in Espoo, Hiedanranta in Tampere and Turku Science Park are being developed into city districts in line with the principles of the circular and sharing economies.

The project period is from 1 August 2019 to 30 June 2021, and the project is a Six City Strategy (6Aika) project funded by the ERDF.

Funding of the project, logos

For more information, please contact:

Reetta Jänis, KIEPPI Project Manager, City of Espoo

+358 40 5519 484,