Making it smart and sustainable: Kalasatama district workshop in Helsinki

What shall be the next steps in Kalasatama distric to make it even smarter and more sustainable? This was the question that around 40 sustainability experts and Smart Kalasatama developers gathered to provide collective intelligence from different countries of Europe in the end of November in Helsinki.

The workshop organized together with EIT Climate KIC and Smart Kalasatama team had participants from well-known European Universities, city planning and sustainability officers in Helsinki, industries and SMEs. Kalasatama has the One more hour a day vision, to guide smart city development. Now the challenge was to think how to take the sustainability goals better embedded in the district formation.

Seven Smart and Sustainable districts

The EIT Climate KIC runs Smart and sustainable district (SSD programme) where Kalasatama district was now introduced. There are altogether seven districts selected for the programme around the Europe. At the same time with Kalasatama, districts from Copenhagen and Malmö entered the programme as a new district partners, whereas London Olympic Park, Berlin Moabit, Utrecht and Paris Saint Quen have been involved for several years already. The unique composition of districts enables cooperation and sharing best practices between the districts.

Districts are gaining more importance, as the entire cities are difficult to manage and develop. On district level you can have an affect on many things and test new solutions. Climate KIC offers a science-policy and science-business interfaces to lead districts towards a more sustainable future. The idea is to focus on finding common typologies for districts, and thus, utilize shared methodologies. “The outcomes of this can be measured through key performance indicators”, explained Climate KIC Program Leed, Kees Van Deelen.

Smart & Clean Kalasatama

Smart Kalasatama is a vibrant real-life testbed for Smart & Clean services to be scaled up elsewhere. By the beginning of the 2030s, Kalasatama district will offer a home for approximately 28,000 residents and jobs for 8,000 people. Currently, there are 3,000 people living in the area. In the workshop, Tuomas Hakala, lead architect of Kalasatama project in Helsinki city planning department, gave a peek of how the area will look like in 2030 with great waterfront solutions and inspiring blocks.

In Kalasatama the city sets the basic level of smartness via binding contacts requiring each house to be part of smart grid on top of the central heating and cooling system and having charging infrastructure for EV’s and smart waste collection system. The Smart Kalasatama program brings together all the developers of more than 20 smart projects in the district. Moreover, the program pushes new smart solutions and bottom-up development to be tested in the district in public-private-people partnerships. Thus, the district has already defined the baseline of smartness and created a vivid network of developers and citizens. The next step is to scale up in terms of sustainability.

Helsinki targets by the year 2030 to reduce energy consumption in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area and cut per capita greenhouse gas emissions by 39 per cent of the 1990 level. This target means that Kalasatama and it’s buildings, last ones ready in 2030s, should become carbon neutral from the start, even energy positive to compensate other, less sustainable districts. During the discussions the experts pointed out that at the moment the plans to reach this ambitious goal are not as strict and concrete as they should be.

Five workstreams creating solutions

During the morning, the workshop participants worked along three workstreams: ’Energy supply’, ’Climate change and ecosystem solutions’ and ’Energy demand reduction and efficiency improvement’. Firstly, each stream focused on discussing the status quo as well as pointing out existing good solutions, and then mapping the most suitable ones for Kalasatama.

In Kalasatama, one of the aims is to focus on changing the energy behaviour. Two groups discussed issues related to energy, the first thinking of new ways to renewable supply and circulation, the second focusing on reduction of the demand. A lot of concrete ideas were evaluated in vivid discussions.

The participants of the workshop called for more participatory processes, flexible regulations and taking good, tested concepts into detailed plans. ”We don’t need to test green roofs anymore, those are already tested”, as one of the participants reminded. In additions to testing new solutions and concepts as the spirit of Kalasatama goes, the focus should also be on quickly implementing existing, advantageous solutions.

During the afternoon, the role of data and different indicators to ensure advancement were discussed within two workstreams.

Co-operation is a key success factor

Tradition in Helsinki is that the city makes the plans and the real estate developers apply those plans. There is not a strong culture for collaboration between the city and different developers. This is something that could be learned from other districts. In Kalasatama the Innovators Club (Kehittäjien klubi) offers a good starting point for a new kind of collaboration. Other European cities have good practices for discussing the green and blue solutions with developers to learn and to be inspired them. In some cities, specific tools are used to show existing solutions that are more attractive, to facilitate communication between city planners and developers.

Veera Mustonen, the head of Smart Kalasatama, felt positive of what was accomplished in the workshop: ”The storyline coming out of the workshop is quite clear. Smart Kalasatama has already proven to be a good Smart & Clean innovation testbed. The logical next step is to align Kalasatama district development with the new Helsinki climate targets. As a new district, Kalasatama could be even more ambitious and show concretely how you work for local energy production and circulation, as well as focusing on the behavioral side of reducing use of energy through more sustainable lifestyle solutions and choices. That way we can use Kalasatama as a concrete example for the whole city. This kind of work requires close co-operation with the city, industry and real estate developers.”

Kalasatama Action Plan

The workshop produced a set of concrete opportunities that could be translated in concrete action, to be carried out in Kalasatama during the forthcoming years:

    • Develop for the City of Helsinki a framework that will allow to translate long-term climate and energy targets into short term actions to drive sustainable solution taken forward in Kalasatama
    • Help City of Helsinki to increase their capability to drive sustainable solutions using the many case studies that have already been done across Europe
    • Creating an Energy Transition Vision and Strategy for Kalasatama
    • Identify co-benefits and co-investment to drive blue and green solutions to tackle climate change issues
    • Taking into use a relevant set of metrics and indicators
    • Continue work with data, building data platforms and identifying business models to use different kind of data for relevant use cases

”It’s always surprising to see how you can formulate concrete aims in a short time, just by putting the people together,” marked Réka Toth, who worked with Kalasatama’s pre-assessment through Climate KIC during 2015 and now attended the workshop to share her knowledge. The work towards smarter and more sustainable districts continues after the workshop. The experts will write down the key conclusions form the workshop and deliver a report in January 2017. The Kalasatama team in Helsinki will make an action plan to identified next steps.

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