10. Green Growth and Eco-innovation

Back to reports

10. Green growth and Eco-innovation

10A. Present situation

Present situation

1. Due to a strong strategic choice to provide an efficient waste sorting system to households and industries, the Lahti region has been a pioneer in waste management (Fig. A1). Waste sorting provides a basis for material utilization of different resources. There are several acknowledged industrial symbioses in the Lahti region (Figs. A2, A3).

Household waste

Figure A1.The household waste sorting and management system in the Päijät-Häme region.

Kujala industrial symbiosis

Figure A2. Industrial symbioses in the Kujala Waste Centre area. Click to enlarge image.

Industrial symbiosis

Figure A3. Industrial symbioses of the brewing and bakery industry in the Lahti region. Click to enlarge image.

2. At the beginning of 2016, the City of Lahti launched a voluntary Climate Alliance agreement [1] to encourage local companies to reduce their CO2 emissions, together with the city. So far, 10 companies have signed the agreement. The process is especially marketed to smaller companies, as they often find it impossible to go through costlier environmental certification.

The Lahti University of Applied Sciences (LUAS) has developed a new circular economy training programme that incorporates all major educational programmes [2].

3. The Lahti Business Region has hosted an annual investment event for Cleantech companies and investors, Cleantech Venture Day, since 2006 [3]. In 2016, the venue gathered participants from 18 different countries and hosted over 60 investors. There were around 260 corporate speed-dating meetings and 28 companies pitched on stage.

The new e-service, Energiavalinta.fi, creates customer potential for small-scale renewable energy production, by providing one-building scale data on the potential of the new energy solutions [4].

4. The City of Lahti has an ambitious Procurement Policy (2014-2020) that states that all municipal units should realize their role in creating new markets for innovative and sustainable products, and services [5, 6].

5. We are using the new Porukka mobile application for co-creation [7, 8]. By October 2017, over 220 000 responses will have been gathered, through this application.

“My Lahti” open innovation evenings are part of a City master planning process [9]. The City of Lahti also hosts a special Neighbourhood Godparent model that encourages citizens to take responsibility at the local level [10].

The countryside part of Lahti City, the Nastola area, has a special board for citizen participation, which had the ability to fund grassroot eco-innovative projects [11].

6. Cleantech, the development towards energy and material efficient production and design, was chosen as one of the three key strategic priority areas for Lahti’s business region, in early 2000 [12, 13] (Fig. A4). The regional smart specialization strategy (S3) is not restricted to the transformation of the business environment, as it also influences the strategies of the regional higher-education schools: LUAS, HU and LUT [14].

Smart specialization strategy

Figure A4.The smart specialization strategy, of the Lahti region, has three priority areas: environment, design and practice based innovation (Harmaakorpi & Tura 2012).

7. The City Board of Lahti publicly announced, on 5 Sept. 2016, that by 2020 at least one third of public procurements and investments will target projects that create new innovations in a circular economy [6]. The Helsinki Metropolitan Smart & Clean Foundation [15] is used as one of the co-creation platforms.

It has been estimated that Cleantech companies currently provide about 5 000 jobs in the urban region of Lahti out of a total of 63 000 jobs. Of those 5 000 Cleantech jobs, roughly 1 000 are in the waste management sector, 1 500 in industrial cleaning processes, 500 in renewable energy, with the remaining 2 000 jobs in water and waste water management, green building, consulting, analytics and energy efficiency (LADEC 2016).

8. There are currently 8 e-cars in the Lahti fleet (approximately 8% of the fleet). There are seven public charging places within Lahti, but due to a wide access to private electronic plugs for heating, it is possible to connect the e-cars to plugs at almost all premises.

10B. Past Performance

Initiatives for Green Growth and Eco-innovation

Since the early 1990s, the Lahti region waste management policy has been very comprehensive and concretely aiming to reduce landfill waste [16]. The Lahti region development company LADEC, Päijät-Häme Waste Management and the City of Lahti participated in the Ecopol Project 2011-2014, funded by the EU Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP). During the Ecopol Project, several eco-innovation and eco-procurement recommendation papers were created by LADEC.

Lahti has actively participated in the Finnish eco-procurement network led by Motiva [17]. The network was established, by 9 cities, in 2002. The Procurement Policy of Lahti City (2014-2020) [5] received an honorary award in the Sustainable Public Procurement competition held by Motiva, in 2014 [18].

The long-term management project of Lake Vesijärvi is one of the best-known Finnish environmental projects [19, 20]. The formerly severely eutrophicated lake is, today, a well-known example of ecosystem restoration, with local companies and citizens having participated, for decades, with funding from LIFE (Life for Lake Vesijärvi 1996-1998) and the national ERDF (Fig. B1).

Smart City initiatives are part of the smart specialization strategy of the Lahti region [12]. LADEC has been leading several smart city initiatives that target the international co-operation between Finnish and Chinese cities and companies.

Lake Vesijärvi

Figure B1. The restoration of Lake Vesijärvi is a famous and successful example of R&D based ecosystem restoration.

Influence of EU and National Policies

The EU 2020 Strategy forms the backbone of national and local policies by incorporating smart, sustainable and inclusive growth into a single strategy. The aim is to integrate environmental, social and economic targets into the same action programme, which is made very clear in the new city Strategy of Lahti (Fig. B2).

Vitality and Environmental Programme


Figure B2. Main actions in the Vitality and Environmental Programme of Lahti City in 2016-2020. Main environmental and business development targets in the city strategy are led through the programme.

Finland’s Energy and Climate Strategy was approved in 2013 [21]. The long-term goal (2050) for Finland is to be CO2-neutral. The City of Lahti is dedicated to cut CO2 emissions by 50%, from 1990 levels, by 2025. The climate goal is led and followed through by the EU Covenant of Mayors agreement that was signed by the City of Lahti in 2011, and which has a CO2 reduction target of 35%, from the 1990 baseline, by 2020 [22]. Lahti’s targets for CoM and for Energy & Climate, are currently under preparation.

As an Energy Agreement Municipality, the City of Lahti develops its old and new premises with strategic goals for increasing energy efficiency [23].

The EU Circular Economy Package is an ambitious strategy that aims to close production loops through enhanced recycling and re-using of materials and products. Finland’s waste law was renewed in 2011 [24], to correspond with the EU-goals of sustainable use of natural resources and to prevent any harm being caused by waste. The Waste Management Policy of the Lahti region [16] is in line with Finland’s national goals, but aims to enhance recycling of municipality waste faster than the national goals. The Finnish future fund, Sitra, published a Finnish national roadmap, for a circular economy, in 2016-2025, which contains three cases from the Lahti region [25]. Lahti was the first region in Finland to publish a regional, circular economy roadmap on 21 September 2017 [26].

Publications of Reports

Environmental accounting is performed every year, as a part of the city financial statements [27]. The environmental expenses, income and investment data are collected, from the whole City Consortium organization, for the Environmental Balance Sheet.

The annually published Environmental Review contains roughly 30 environmental indicators [28]. The energy efficiency improvement actions, related to the National Energy Agreement, are reported every year to Motiva.

Development of Urban Structure

The master planning process is used as a strategic tool for developing a sustainable City of Lahti [9]. The City of Lahti has developed a continuous, four-year cycling, strategic master plan process (Fig. B3). Ongoing planning, of the whole city, enables a strategic long-term view of urban development, while allowing adjustments for pressing development needs and short-term challenges, as predicting the future is challenging. Currently, the City of Lahti is incorporating the Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (SUMP, EU) [29] into this strategic city master plan process.

Master plan process

Figure B3. Continuous master plan process of Lahti 2017-2020.

Sustainability and a circular economy rational is incorporated into several urban planning and building projects:

KEKO Planning Tool for Eco-efficient Urban Structure

The City of Lahti has used the national eco-efficiency planning tool, KEKO [30], to calculate the environmental impacts of different suggested plans for the railway corridor area of Lahti [31]. The KEKO tool gives information on CO2 emissions, use of natural resources and impacts on local nature, and allows several plans to be compared.

Low Energy Houses of Lahden Talot, Case Lanssikatu Houses

Lahden talot, the rental housing company of Lahti, has built several energy efficient houses with other quality parameters, such as indoor air quality, being strategically incorporated into the planning. The Lanssikatu houses were built in 2011-2012 and represent a smart energy design [32], whereby their energy comes from ground heat pumps and solar panels.

Development of the Former Industrial Milieu of Niemi

Niemi is an industrial area where the University of Helsinki established its environmental ecology unit in the 1990s. Currently the Lahti University of Applied Sciences (LUAS) is relocating their campus in the Niemi area, which increases the need to combine different land-use types (industrial, educational, services, possibly housing) into this same area. The use of cleantech and circular economy products, as well as a user-oriented design approach are at the core of the LUAS campus plan [33].

Energon Renewable Energy Research Centre

Energon provides opportunities for developing equipment that runs on liquid and gaseous fuels, as well as equipment suited for utilising solar energy, geothermal and air-source heat pump solutions and hybrid solutions (Fig. B4). The facilities and equipment are also well-suited for measuring flue-gas emissions. Energon's services are available to companies, universities, other institutions of higher education and research facilities - either in cooperation or individually. Energon is owned by the Lahti development company, LADEC [34].


Figure B4. Energon offers unique facilities for versatile research into renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Motorcycle Museum of Finland - Surprisingly Cleantech

The Motorcycle Museum of Finland in located in the Niemi harbour area, in Lahti. The museum also demonstrates several local cleantech solutions, such as the Kemppi Ltd recharging facility and an Oilon ground heat pump [35].


The Lake Vesijärvi Project (1987-present) is a flagship for environmental innovation projects, in the Lahti region. The long-term environmental management project has been a success in several ways: by allocating investment money for ecosystem restoration and Lahti harbour area development, by founding a common ground for university research and private company interests in cleantech and by creating momentum for citizens to participate in practical improvements of their surrounding environment (Fig. B5).

Vesijärvi art project

Figure B5. Artist Tiina Salmi (right) worked with school children during the Lake Vesijärvi Art Project 2017.


10C. Future Plans

Plans to Establish Eco-innovation Clusters, Strategies and Initiatives

The city strategy of Lahti was completely renewed in 2015, due to the merger of Lahti and Nastola municipalities. In the process, programme management was adopted to implement the city strategy. Lahti’s new Vitality and Environmental Programme contains 6 main actions (Fig. B2) that will be implemented during the 2016-2020 period. As the strategy is managed through a programme containing several projects, it has been necessary to create a common and shared understanding of the targeted change. Therefore, the Environmental Programme of Lahti 2017-2030 has been chosen as one part of the larger strategy programme.

Building interesting reference environments for cleantech is a shared vision and strategy of the university departments (HU, LUAS, LUT), the City of Lahti and the neighbouring municipalities of Hollola and Orimattila. These partners created a common competitiveness strategy for the urban region of Lahti 2016-2020 [36], in which the Lahti region aims to be the most business friendly and boldly sustainable region of growth, in Finland.

Future Targets for Application of Eco-innovations

E-mobility and biogas use are both interesting potentials of the future mobility environment of Lahti. In 2016, there were 8 e-cars in the total stock of 100 cars used by the municipality (Fig. C1). Due to a special energy support scheme, for e-cars in Finland during 2012-2016, it has been possible to receive 30% of e-car costs. In the near future, it is highly likely that a greater share of the cars will be using locally produced biogas. However, at this time, there is no specific goal to increase this per cent, as the energy support systems are under national reconsideration.


Figure C1. E-cars have been used by Lahti elderly care services.

The City of Lahti conducted a cost-benefit assessment of e-buses, hybrid buses and biogas buses [37]. The e-buses and hybrids turned out to have the greatest potential for next-generation solutions, which can then be taken into account in the next public transportation procurement, in 2018.

The Lahti Energy Company has taken part in the national coalition of energy companies, Virta Ltd, which aims to build a nation-wide charging point infrastructure [38]. Public charging stations are now built into all larger public parking garages.

A new e-car sharing scheme is currently under development in the Hennala area, which will be one of the fastest growing areas and belongs to a railway growth corridor. This former military base, with dozens of historical buildings, will be transformed into a residential area.

Smart district heating projects are in the development phase, in the Lahti railway corridor area. The efficient district heating network is further improved by combining one-building scale production and larger area-scale production possibilities in the network. The possibility to utilize groundwater as a rechargeable battery, for storing cold and heat, is currently under research and business planning.

A smart lighting project is under implementation in the harbour area (Fig. C2). The aim of the project is to create a practical test-environment for smart lighting products and sensors.

Moreover, we are currently benchmarking smart bike-sharing concepts and are willing to create a sustainable test platform for these new service concepts.

Smart lightning project

Figure C2. Visualization of smart lighting on the pedestrian street in Lahti harbour.

Innovation and Green Business Networks

National and international sustainability networks are very important for the development of Lahti. There are several focus areas, in the sustainable city network (Fig. C3), that emphasise business development, environmental issues, climate change and culture.

International city networks

Figure C3. International city networks supporting the sustainable development of Lahti.

Cleantech Venture Day is an international clean technology event, organized by Lahti-based NIA Ltd, and which gathers investors and companies from all continents [3]. The event was created by the predecessor of the Lahti Development Company, LADEC.

Programmes Promoting Green Economy

The City of Lahti is committed to the long-term sustainability goals of the Finnish Sustainable Communities [39] of becoming carbon-neutral with zero-waste and having a sustainable city consumption by 2050. The new Environmental Programme of Lahti 2017-2030 has a strong focus on these long-term sustainability goals. Several participatory tools are being used to reach businesses and residents [7-11].

Key Future Plan

The Smart & Clean growth project is a part of the strategic Vitality and Environment Programme of Lahti 2016-2020 (Fig. B2)[40]. The Smart & Clean Programme is also a shared aim of the Government of Finland and the Helsinki metropolitan cities (Helsinki, Vantaa, Espoo and Kauniainen) and Lahti City to create a world renowned cleantech reference platform by 2020 (Fig. C4) [15, 40]. Smart & Clean was founded by the Finnish future innovation fund, Sitra. The Smart & Clean Project consists of several focus areas, but the City of Lahti aims to create an especially diverse development platform, within the circular economy topic.

Smart & foundation

Figure C4. The Helsinki Metropolitan Area together with Lahti aims to be the best test bed in the world for smart and clean solutions.

10D. References

  1. Lahti Climate Alliance agreement model with local companies
  2. Circular economy training programme in LUAS
  3. Cleantech Venture Day
  4. Energiavalinta e-service
  5. Lahti Procurement Policy 2014-2020
  6. Video of Chair of Lahti City Board Juha Rostedt presenting the Smart & Clean Procurement Goal (5.9.2016) 
  7. Porukka mobile application is used in the innovation process with residents
  8. Video of Porukka mobile application
  9. Video of Continuous master planning model with resident participation
  10. Neighbourhood Godparent - Aluekummit
  11. Nastola Board for participation
  12. Smart Specialization Strategy of Päijät-Häme Region
  13. Harmaakorpi, V. & Tura, T. 2012: Towards Smart Specialisation - The Lahti Region. Nordregion.
  14. The Strategy 2020 of Lahti University of Applied Sciences
  15. Smart & Clean Foundation Helsinki Metropolitan Area
  16. The Waste management policy of Päijät-Häme region
  17. Finnish cities Eco-procurement network, led by Motiva
  18. Ladec bulleting 2.4.2014, The honorary award received by Lahti Procurement Policy in national competition held by Motiva in 2014
  19. Keto, J. & Tallberg, P. 2000. The recovery of Lake Vesijärvi, a lake in Southern Finland: water quality and phytoplankton interpretations. Boreal management research 5, pp.15-16.
  20. Lake Vesijärvi Foundation
  21. Finland’s National Energy & Climate Strategy
  22. Lahti Sustainable Energy Action Plan was approved in 2013
  23. Presentation of Energy Efficiency Agreement of Lahti City and its results
  24. Finland’s Waste Law 2011
  25. Finnish future fund SITRA (2016): Finnish roadmap for circular economy 2016-2025
  26. Lahti region circular economy roadmap was published 21.9.2017
  27. Environmental accounting report of Lahti 2015
  28. Environmental Review of Lahti 2015
  29. Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans – SUMP
  30. Eco-efficiency calculation tool for land-use planning developed by Finnish Environmental Institute
  31. Development of Lahti railway corridor area
  32. Lahti Housing Lanssikatu Street hybrid energy houses
  33. LUAS campus plan
  34. Energon Renewable Research Centr
  35. Finnish Motorcycle Museo in Lahti utilizes cleantech
  36. Lahti urban region competitiveness strategy 2016-2020
  37. A cost-benefit assessment of e-buses, hybrid buses and biogas buses for Lahti from 2018 onwards
  38. Virta Ltd. EV charging services
  39. Finnish Sustainable Communities, FISU
  40. Lahti Smart & Clean, will be published in Nov.2017


© Lahden kaupunki. Kaikki oikeudet pidätetään.