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Low-carbon life in Finland

  • 01 August 2017

Creating an energy-efficient area is no mean feat. Residents in Ii, Finland reduced CO2 emissions more quickly than any other municipality in the country from 2007 to 2015, according to the Finnish Environment Institute, SYKE. This achievement culminated in the EU-funded Innovative Low-Carbon Public Services project which was launched in 2015.

This project inspires us to continue to work towards sustainability while co-designing services. It helps us share our practices with a wider international audience and strengthens our belief that we’re doing the right thing.

Kristiina Nurmenniemi, project manager, Micropolis Ltd

Citizens were asked for their ideas and input at the very beginning of the project with the help of the service design team. A municipality map was sent to every citizen so that they could mark their favourite place in the area on it, in-depth interviews were conducted with individuals, sometimes even in their own homes, and sessions were held with groups of young and elderly people to get their very different perspectives on how the municipality could be improved. 

A strong emphasis was put on finding energy-efficient and eco-friendly solutions to the problems facing the citizens. Nearly half of the population commute to work, and traffic contributes to about 40 % of all the CO2 emissions in Ii, compared to an average of 28 % in Finland. Following on from an electronic survey, to which almost 500 people responded, the decision was made to build the first cycle path proposed by the citizens. 

Renewable energy heating public buildings

All the public buildings of Ii are now heated with renewable energy, and electric cars take the municipality employees on business trips. A total of around EUR 600 000 is being saved each year. In addition, all schools and day-care centres are now participating in the Euronet 50/50 energy-saving programme. 

Digitalisation of the public services was a key feature of the project’s campaign (; in fact, Ii’s Digital Agenda allows citizens to create their own public services. . 

Environmental promises from businesses

A local EU Ecolabel was created by Ii to encourage businesses in the region to save energy. For a company to be awarded the label, they must promise to be more energy-efficient or complete another eco-friendly activity. Twenty-six companies in the region have already received Ecolabels. 

Water, electricity and heating use is now being monitored through a new digital system, which is much more efficient than manual system previously used. Currently, 15 buildings are connected digitally with plans to connect all the main buildings of the municipality will be soon connected (100 buildings).  

The municipality of Ii has about 10 000 inhabitants, which is similar to about 80 % of all municipalities in Finland. Using Ii as a model, this means that about 250 municipalities in Finland can adopt similar strategies in their own areas. 

Total investment and EU funding 

Total investment for the project “Innovative Low-Carbon Public Services” is EUR 297 526, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 208 267 through the Operational Programme “Sustainable growth and jobs 2014-2020 - Structural Funds Programme of Finland” for the 2014-2020 programming period.