As part of the EGCA2021 Action and Communications Plan preparation, Lahti is planning a future flagship project called “My Carbon Neutral Life 2021”. We aim to invite 1000 residents from Lahti and other EGC Network cities for a carbon-neutral lifestyle trial during the year 2021 (Fig. C5). My Carbon Neutral Life 2021 project would be a large city-scale demonstration of carbon-neutrality demonstrating what kind of effects it would have on the everyday life of a European citizen. The Scientific community would support the project by producing necessary information on carbon-neutral lifestyle choices. We would also set an international open call for private and NGO partnerships in order to create a testbed for services and solutions that are needed to put the trial into practice.
The IPCC Special Report (2018) states the importance of creating multi-level governance structures for actions on climate change mitigation. Partnerships that involve a broad spectrum of private and public actors are crucial to facilitate actions and responses for limiting global warming to 1.5°C. Our project would address climate change mitigation in a new and inspiring way. Transition from linear, fossil-fuel based economy towards renewable and circular economy has versatile impacts on peoples’ daily lives. However, it also brings many new opportunities, e.g. MaaS or circularity based consumption, which are likely to become more common during 2030s. To create leadership for the transition, it is important to showcase the opportunities – and not only to concentrate on the risks. My Carbon Neutral Life 2021 is a project that will engage the whole city being simultaneously a grassroot-level and a strategic project – a real future flagship project for the year 2021.
Lahti has developed an integrated and continuous master planning process (Fig. 2). In this model the planning work proceeds in four-year cycles and is reviewed during each city council term. A continuous planning process provides a holistic approach to strategic land use, enabling the appropriate timing and targeting of more detailed city planning and building projects. Watch video.
An electronic geographical information system enables continuous planning work. The knowledge gathered by the residents is also saved in the GIS system (Fig. 3). The progress of master planning is monitored using 20 ecological, social and economic measures. During each Master Plan cycle, various impacts of the proposed plan are assessed (e.g. walking and cycling, children, climate change and ecological networks) by city officials and qualified academic experts.
Our future challenge is to stop the increase in traffic emissions (Fig. 4). Special emphasis will now be placed on integrating the Sustainable Mobility Plan (SUMP) into the process, which will create the analytic city-wide framework for cutting CO2 emissions from the traffic sector, e.g. by 1) improving the bicycle infrastructure, 2) finding smarter and low-carbon solutions for public transportation and 3) increasing pedestrian-friendly spaces in Lahti's urban cores.
SUMP development plan for 2017-2020:
• 2017: Analysation of the present state, setting of vision and targets.
• 2018-2019: Efficient action plan.
• 2019: Responsibilities and financing, monitoring and evaluation.
• 2020: Introduction and communication, lessons to be learned for the next round.
Finding the best solutions to treat urban stormwater is currently high on the city’s agenda, as the city is preparing a large-scale investment project called “Hybrid Solutions for Urban Stormwater”. This project received a Finnish Government Programme Key Pilot Project status and funding for 2017-2018. The idea is to find both large and small scale solutions to treat urban stormwater and to integrate them into the development areas in Lahti (Fig. 5). Our aim is to find the best Nature-based Solutions (NBSs) to retent the nutrients and micro/nano-plastics that leach from the streets together with urban stormwater.
The University of Helsinki acts as an innovation partner for the city, and private companies are also encouraged to join in this investment and R&D project. We are currently expanding the storm water innovation co-operation to include the Helsinki Metropolitan Area via the Smart & Clean Foundation, in which Lahti is a partner. Our aim is to increase international co-operation within this theme.
Treating urban stormwater, in a more sustainable and smarter way, is a very important adaptation measure, as the increasing precipitation, which causes e.g. urban and river flooding, is expected to be one of the most problematic climate change impacts in Northern Europe. Cities can greatly benefit from and create a more adaptable infrastructure by using the research from ecosystem ecology.
The CitiCAP project (Citizens’ cap-and-trade co-created) received funding from the EU UIA 2nd Call, Urban Mobility theme (2018-2020). The project concentrates on enabling and promoting sustainable urban mobility in Lahti (Fig. 7). Among other measures such as an open mobility data platform and a SUMP, the project develops a model for personal carbon trading on mobility and an application for the citizens that enables real-time tracking and visualization of one’s mobility carbon footprint (Fig. 8). The application will be launched in September 2019. The basic idea of the application is the following. Every user will receive a certain amount of carbon allowances that will get spent based on their travel mode choices. By making more sustainable travel choices the user earns virtual euros that can be exchanged on a marketplace to services, products or discounts. The marketplace enables companies to get involved, gain visibility and new customers. What is more, the mobility data platform opens up possibilities for new mobility service development.
Part of the project money will be invested in cycling infrastructure. A 2,5 km long smart bicycle highway will be built in order to demonstrate how safe, convenient and fast cycling can be. The cycle lane will be separated from other travel modes and constructed using recycled or recyclable materials. It will act as a test bed for smart solutions that add value to the cyclists, such as information screens, smart bicycle racks and smart lightning.
We have been restoring Lake Vesijärvi since the mid-1970s in co-operation with several municipalities, universities and other research organizations. The annual restoration investment exceeds 250 000 € and is covered by the City of Lahti, Lahti Aqua Ltd and Lahti Energy Ltd. Past measures include improving wastewater treatment and biomanipulation. The current restoration stage involves the mapping of pollution sources, eliminating wastewater sources from private dwellings, constructing retention ponds and wetlands, aeration and biomanipulation (Fig. 9). In the past, Lake Vesijärvi was not suitable for swimming, but today, it has many public beaches. Two books on Lake Vesijärvi and its restoration story have been published (1992, 2010).
River conditions have been improved through sustainable drainage systems. The Porvoonjoki River is now cleaner due to effective wastewater treatment. The river’s condition (including water quality, fish, fishing, and benthic fauna) has been monitored, together with other municipalities, companies and non-governmental organizations, for over 20 years. The fraction of cyprinids has lessened and the population of more demanding fish has increased. We are reducing the negative impacts to the Baltic Sea by improving the Porvoonjoki River’s condition.
Lahti Energy Ltd. (part of the Lahti City Group) has invested in energy efficient and sustainable district heating. The district heating network is extensive, with over 90% of the population and 99% of the municipal buildings using district heating. Over 95% of district heating is produced energy efficiently in the combined heat and power plants of Kymijärvi I and Kymijärvi II. The Kymijärvi II power plant (2012) is a unique gasification power plant that uses solid recovered fuel, SRF (Fig. 10), and waste wood to generate electricity and district heat. The net efficacy of waste gasification is much better in comparison to traditional waste combustion, which emphasizes that gasification represents the BAT of the much-argued energy-utilization of waste.
However, the City of Lahti is currently undergoing a complete change in centralized energy production, by replacing the old Kymijärvi I power plant with the new Kymijärvi III power plant by 2020 (Fig. 11). When procuring biomass, Lahti Energy demands FSC or PEFC forestry certificates.