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Ministry of the Environment, Senate Properties and the cities of Espoo, Helsinki, Turku and Vantaa sign a voluntary agreement to reduce emissions at construction sites

Press release 2020-09-09 at 14:57

The Ministry of the Environment, Senate Properties and the cities of Espoo, Helsinki, Turku and Vantaa have signed a voluntary Green Deal agreement to reduce emissions at construction sites. The aim of the agreement is that construction sites of the cities and Senate Properties will be fossil free by the end of 2025, meaning they will not use fossil fuels. In addition, by 2030, at least 50 per cent of construction machinery and site transports will be powered by electricity, biogas or hydrogen. Emissions from construction sites under the agreement include emissions from machinery, electricity, heating and, in stages, emissions from transport.  

Finland’s goal is to be carbon neutral in 2035, and cities have in part even more ambitious goals. Achieving them will require swift and significant measures from all sectors. For example, machinery emits about eight per cent of the carbon dioxide emissions of the entire burden-sharing sector, i.e. sectors outside the emissions trading scheme. Construction sites also cause harmful local emissions and engine noise. Through its procurement, the public sector has the possibility to influence a significant share of these emissions and support the achievement of carbon neutrality goals. The public sector can serve as a pioneer in the exploitation of alternative driving power while also creating the demand and conditions for the development and wider adoption of the market for low-emission solutions.  

“The agreement supports the achievement of Finland’s emission reduction targets and sustainable development goals. The measures to be agreed now and the criteria to be created jointly can support municipal and state emission reduction measures and create new sustainable operating opportunities for companies,” says Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Krista Mikkonen.

The agreement is the first Green Deal agreement signed among the public sector in order to promote sustainable procurement. KEINO Competence Centre for Sustainable and Innovative Public Procurement supports the Ministry of the Environment in implementing the agreement.

“At the same time as emissions from energy production in the Turku region have taken a rapid downward turn, the relative share of other emissions is rising and their importance in achieving carbon neutrality by 2029 is emphasised. Reducing emissions from construction sites requires alteration of the usual practices simultaneously by many parties, and it is therefore important that we have initiated this together,” says Mayor of Turku Minna Arve.

Development of the actors’ common operating methods plays an important role in continued efforts

Together with KEINO Competence Centre, the parties to the agreement will create a common emission-free site operating model as well as an agreement monitoring system and procurement criteria that will be applied at their construction sites. Other municipalities and public sector actors are also invited to participate. Common procurement criteria and the monitoring system will ensure that the agreement targets are met. Procurement criteria will be developed together with industry representatives. The challenging work of establishing a common monitoring system and developing procurement criteria has already begun.

Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori says that Helsinki has long promoted the development of emission-free construction sites through various projects and has engaged in active international cooperation.

“At Helsinki construction sites, we have been proactive regarding the Green Deal’s targets by launching a pilot of five fossil free sites in the spring of 2020 and, with the lessons learned from them, by striving to be fossil free at all new infrastructure sites already during this year.”

The piloting of emission-free construction sites has also begun in Espoo.

“The pilot site Suurpellon Lukutori started achieving emission reductions in June. At the same time, we are also developing emissions accounting so that we can assess the effectiveness of measures better,” says Mayor of Espoo Jukka Mäkelä.

The aim of the agreement is to share information on the best practices developed and identified, and to encourage public sector actors to join the agreement on a broad front. Many cities are already interested.

“With this Green Deal, cities are showing the market that we are working together to combat climate change though both common goals and procurement criteria. Long-term common goals and operating methods aiming at 2030 will also make it easier for companies to eventually develop emission-free construction sites,” says Mayor of Vantaa Ritva Viljanen.

The cities have also hoped that government organisations would participate in the agreement so that comprehensive cooperation could take place at the national level. The carbon neutrality targets are also tight for the state. Senate Properties is the first to take part.

“Over the past five years, state-owned properties have reduced their emissions by two-thirds through determined measures and decisions. There is still a way to go to achieve Finland’s carbon neutrality target, and in this work we need extensive cooperation between different actors. Emission-free construction sites is one new, concrete step towards achieving this target. Green Deals also implement the objectives of the Hankinta-Suomi operational programme for procurement,” says Chief Operating Officer of Senate Properties Juha Lemström.

A Green Deal is a voluntary agreement between the state and a business sector or municipalities. The aim is to take joint action to promote the Sustainable Development Goals by seeking solutions to mitigate climate change and promote a circular economy.

Inquiries:

Senior Specialist Ville Laasonen, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 29 525 0046, ville.laasonen@ym.fi
(Green Deal on emission-free construction sites)

Senior Specialist Leena-Kaisa Piekkari, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 50 320 1114, leena-kaisa.piekkari@ym.fi
(Green Deal agreements in general)

Special Adviser to the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Timo Juurikkala timo.juurikkala@ym.fi

Espoo: Iina Kallio, tel. +358 40 509 6323, iina.kallio@espoo.fi

Helsinki: Mia Malin, tel. +358 40 336 1577, mia.malin@hel.fi

Turku: Niina Ruuska, tel. +358 40 358 9353, niina.ruuska@turku.fi

Vantaa: Jari Viinanen, tel. +358 40 723 8353, jari.viinanen@vantaa.fi

Senate Properties: Juha Lemström, tel. +358 40 550 0847, juha.lemstrom@senaatti.fi