Group N - Collaborative Climate Adaption Project

From Wikienfk5

Area Helsinki Metropolitan Area
Place Helsinki
Country Finland
Topic See level rise, GHGs Emissions
Author(s) Andreia Oshiro, Carolina Esteves, Diana Cota
Philipp korting helsinki.jpg

Rationale: Why have you selected this case study area?

  • Finland is a pioneer in implementation of climate adaptation policies (since 2005). We believe that the study of Helsinki and metropolitan area can bring us valuable examples of how to create and support effective strategies.
  • There are already some adaptation actions happening on local level and that could be a good example to follow and help other cities in similar situation.

Authors' perspectives

  • Sustainable Landscape Planning should provide an interdisciplinary approach to protection, conservation and management of urban and rural landscapes, considering environmental, social and economic factors.
  • There are many places and people who will face serious problems related to adaptation capacity to Climate Change. Most of them in developing countries have no or few conditions to invest in research and adaptive actions. Anlysis of successful cases can help us to elaborate more effective projects and strategies, as the impacts of Climate Change will be felt differently according to each case.

Landscape and/or urban context

  • Helsinki – the capital of Finland - is situated at the mouth of the river Vantaa, in southern Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. The city is spread across a number of bays and peninsulas and over about 315 islands.

YTV helsinki area.jpg [1]

  • The metropolitan area involves also the cities, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen, covering around 745 sq. km, with a total population of approximately one million. Only in Helsinki live 602,200 people, making it by far the most populous city in Finland. Therefore it has a density of 2,800 inhabitants per, which is relatively low in comparison with other European capitals (e.g. London: 5,206/; Stockholm: 4,600/; Brussels: 7,025/

Helsinki area-aog.jpg

  • Green areas cover around 40% of the region. 20% of the surface is reserved for residential buildings, other buildings account for 13%, and a bit more than 20% is reserved for traffic. Urban Parks like the Helsinki Central Park and more 6 “Green Fingers” are important functional, ecological and esthetical areas for residents.

Helsinki green fingers.jpg[2]

  • Because of the climate, agricultural development is limited to maintaining self-sufficiency in basic products. Forestry, an important export earner, provides a secondary occupation for the rural population.
  • Helsinki is a leader in energy efficiency and ranks in 7th place in the European Green City Index.[3]

However, because of its high carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and energy consumption, ranks in 11th among the 30 studied cities with a rate of 6 tons CO2/person, above the average 5tons. This is a result of the high need for heating buildings and rising energy consumption.

  • The public transport system is highly integrated and consists of trams, commuter rail, the subway, bus lines and ferry lines. The city provide the longest cycling network, and is a leader in green transport promotion.
  • Infrastructure: Since the 1960s, Helsinki has benefited from underground construction. The region is well suited to rock construction because its bedrock is hard and near the surface. In a dense urban structure, many functions are placed underground (industry parks, traffic system, sevices networks, recreation facilities, etc), near existent infrastructure.

Helsinki undergroung.png [4]

Cultural/social/political context

Cultural context

Helsinki has extensive cultural offerings and quality of life of residents. Culture plays an important role in the City’s strategy, policies and decision making. Activities in Theater, Cinema, Music, Dancing, Museums, Art education, etc., are supported by Cultural Office in cooperation with other organizers. In 2012 Helsinki was designated World Design Capital by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid). Its Architecture is a comprise many styles, from classicism to art nouveau. Recently has been shaped by functionalism.

Helsinki University of Technology auditorium.jpg

Helsinki University of Technology, auditorium of the main building. Espoo, Finland. Architect Alvar Aalto. [5]

Social context

According to many international studies, Helsinki is one of the cleanest cities in Europe. It is high rated in health and sanitation with some of the best drinking water in the world. General Education and Early Childhood care are promoted for Helsinki’s residents, as well as Higher Education and Research institutions. Helsinki is a fast growing metropolitan area and its foreign-born population is growing rapidly. Housing construction and development of new areas for housing are main priorities. The city aims at 5,000 new housing units per year, and offers many alternatives of housing to suit different lifestyles and life situations. Helsinki’s economy is dominated by the services sector, with a high concentration of jobs in infor-mation technology and the public sector. This area is the richest in Finland, representing 30% of national GDP (gross domestic product).

Political context

Helsinki, like all other Finnish municipalities, has a City Council. There are 3 large parties in the council of Helsinki. The National Coalition Party with 23 members, the Social Democrats with 15 members and the Green League with 19 members. The National Coalition Party has been the strongest party in the recent years. The relevant City Department is responsible for preparing a proposal on the motion and, when complete, the proposal is submitted to the relevant committee or board for decision making. The execution of a decision is handled by the proper department or City Group company according to each matter. Helsinki citizens are encouraged to participate and influence the decision makers of the city.

Local Climate

Helsinki climate.png[6]

  • The region has large seasonal temperature differences, with warm to hot (and often humid) summers and cold (sometimes severely cold) winters.
  • Temperature in January and February is around −5 °C, rates below −20 °C occur a week or two in a year.
  • Days last less than six hours around the winter solstice with low sun rays, and the very cloudy weather at this time of year accentuates the darkness.
  • For amost 2 months in Winter people in Helsinki have to deal with temperature like – minus 10 °C.
  • The average maximum temperature from June to August is around 19 to 28 °C.
  • Due to the marine effect, in the summer daily temperatures are cooler and night temperatures are higher than in the mainland. As near as in Vantaa, the climate is more continental, with warmer summers and colder winters.

Analysis of vulnerability

* Extreme weather & Temperature increase:

Finland temperatures.png

  • Average temperature in Finland is expected to rise 3-6 degrees. The decrease of ice and snow cover will impact certain ecosystems. Many northern species which depend on the cold climate are in danger of extinction.
  • The air quality will decrease as a result of higher temperatures. Ultraviolet radiation will be more intensive, which could affect health and comfort of people.
  • Elderly can be especially vulnerable to certain weather events such as high temperatures, freezing on pavements, or storm-related damage that cuts off access to essential services.

* Sea level rising:

  • Exact regional projections are not conceivable, that give rise to the large uncertainties. Current estimates vary from 10 cm to 2 m by the end of the century.
  • There will be impacts in coastal areas, including possible displacement of communities, social infra-structure, biodiversity and alterations to landform configurations.

* Flooding & - Storm water management:

  • In Helsinki and metropolitan areas live approximately 1 million people that could be susceptible to exceptional seasonal flooding and need for evacuation.
  • Road maintenance will also be affected by increasing rainfall.
  • In inland waters, higher temperatures are likely to increase eutrophication, increase water column stratification, dilute salinity and cause an increase in algal blooms. Such changes will have an impact on the marine species, such as economically significant fish stocks.

Eutrophication – “The enrichment of bodies of fresh water by inorganic plant nutrients (e.g. nitrate, phosphate). It may occur naturally but can also be the result of human activity (cul-tural eutrophication from fertilizer runoff and sewage discharge) and is particularly evident in slow-moving rivers and shallow lakes … Increased sediment deposition can eventually raise the level of the lake or river bed, allowing land plants to colonize the edges, and eventually converting the area to dry land.” - Lawrence and Jackson, 1998

Helsinki Flood 2005b.jpg[7]

* Energy distribution and maintenance of services and social networks:

  • Citizens are very dependent of electricity because of the city’s cold climate and the high standard of living.
  • Food security & Fresh water availability - Transport, storage, distribution and access to healthy food and provision of fresh water can be affected.

Proposals for Climate Change Adaption

Sea levels rise and flooding:

  • New buildings and other urban development should be redirected to safer areas and follow the recommended lowest base floor of new houses.
  • The sea water can be blocked by temporary flood barriers, built by using sandbags and bales of recycled paper wrapped in plastic.
  • Collect the extra water in reservatories before it reaches other parts of city is important as well.
  • Flood maps are necessary to help the rescue service workers to arrive at critical areas in time.

Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions by:

  • Promote district heating:
  • Emissions of electrically heated buildings and of buildings with separate individual heating systems are clearly higher than those of buildings that use district heating.
  • Besides Electricity consumption should sink and CO2 emission should be reduced from 7.0 (rate in 1990) to 4.3 tonnes per resident by the end of 2030.

CO emissions 2030.png [8]

(According to Helsinki Metropolitan Area climate strategy for 2030) GHG emission strategy - climate change helsinki.jpg

Concept Map about the adaptation to Climate Change strategy in Helsinki, by Andreia Oshiro.

Energy efficiency:

  • Helsinki is a leader in energy efficiency, however, because of its high carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and energy consumption, has a high rate of 6 tons CO2/person. This is a result of the high need for heating buildings and rising energy consumption, due to very low temperatures and darkness in winter.
  • Buildings with efficient insulation system and built with eco-friendly materials contribute to a lower energy consumption. Regulations and Tax benefits for such constructions help to sustain this measure.

Solar panels viikki.png

* Promote Public Transport instead of private motoring:

  • Besides significant greenhouse gas emissions, increased traffic has other consequences such as traffic congestion, affected air quality, increased noise levels and deteriorating road safety. Low ticket prices, rapid transport connections, frequent services and high quality standards are the most important factors for the competitiveness.

Scenario 01.jpg

Current Projects:

  • The BaltCICA Project is designed to focus on the most imminent problems that climate change is likely to cause in the Baltic Sea Region. The concentration of large parts of the population and many larger cities in coastal areas make the region especially sensitive to climate change.[9]
  • Julia 2030 - Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority (HSY)

The Julia 2030 project involves HSY, six municipalities of the Helsinki region, and the Finnish Environment Institute. The project aims to demonstrate how public sector services can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by improving the use of premises and energy efficiency in procurement, and also reducing the region's carbon emissions resulting from waste disposal. [10]

  • Helsinki Metropolitan Area Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. The cities of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen, HSY and other regional actors have prepared a joint regional strategy for adapting to climate change. The preparation work started in 2009 and was co-ordinated by HSY. [11]
  • Food for Tomorrow - Proposal for Finland's National Food Strategy [12]

Proposals for Climate Change Mitigation

* Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to reduce global warming:

  • 43 % of emissions in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area are due to heating buildings.
  • Electricity consumption causes 28 % and transport almost 20% of emissions.

Gas emissions.png [13]

* Strategic planning of Land use: The location of dwellings, workplaces and services affects the growth of traffic and access to district heating in Helsinki, what influences greenhouse gas emissions. Land use concept.jpg Sketch by Diana Cota.

* Promote Public Transport instead of private motoring: Besides significant GHG emissions, increased traffic has other consequences such as traffic congestion, affected air quality, increased noise levels and deteriorating road safety. Low ticket prices, rapid transport connections, frequent services and high quality standards are the most important factors for the competitiveness.

* Expand green spaces in urban area: A compact urban structure creates opportunities for more efficient use of land and natural resources, saving space for green areas and sustainable uses.

Helsinki green structure.jpg

Green structure composed of natural areas (Green Fingers), recreational parks, community gardens, cemeteries, ecological corridors, golf area and others.[14]

* Alternative energy sources: Helsinki Energy has invested in several wind-energy plants in Finland, in order to raise its share of renewables and move away from the use of fossil fuels, which adversely affects the air quality of the city. Production of energy by wave power could be considered as well. [15]

* Sustainable food supply: New crop species are being developed to ensure food production. Is important to seek conditions such as self-sufficient production or alternatives like "Food Hubs", providing access to regional products. [16]

* Drainage: Water permeable asphalt in combination with efficient canalization and drainage system would help to accelerate water efflux. Those measures would help to cope in case of floods and increase road safety in strong rainfalls conditions.

Tnporousasphaltpavement2.png [17] Porous asphalt with rain-resized-600.jpg.png [18]

* Awareness of regional residents: Improve the awareness about the importance of reducing electricity consumption. Monitoring of consumption must be improved so that users of electric power pay according to their actual consumption.


Visions for Helsinki in 2060

  • Lowest Carbon emission level & Highest alternative energy production rate
  • Efficient use of Land with concentrated density areas, high developed underground infrastructure and more green spaces on the surface
  • Intensive use of public transport systems and high bicycle traffic
  • Waste is totally re-utilized to produce energy and recycled products
  • Waste water and rain water are collected and utilized to all non-drinking uses in the city
  • Helsinki has improved its food supply by cultivating on street gardens, green roofs and providing access to regional products

What can be generalized from this case study?

  • theoretical insights

Information and awareness of municipalities and decision makers, enterprises and communities are essential to achieve adequate policy definition, acceptance of adaptation and mitigation measures and general involvement.

Legislation changes and financial incentives are important to support adaptation strategies.

  • generated questions

The information provided by researches, assessment and monitoring projects are very important to guide adaptation measures and strategies. However, under a global perspective, the implementation of such measures seems to be carried out without a proper urgency and comprisement. How to accelerate and drive the effectiveness of these actions?

  • Short statement + background notes

Measures to Reduce GHG emissions in Helsinki Metropolitan Area has been implemented in public buildings as an example to be followed by private sector.

Besides the economic growth until 2008, emissions in this area began falling in 2007 influenced by lower emissions from district heating.

A compact urban structure creates opportunities for more efficient energy generation and distribution. The underground urban development provide a substantial advantage in sustainability and competitiveness.

Presentation Slides


Landscape Architecture and the challenge of Climate Change

Helsinki Sanomat Internationl Edition – Metro]

Helsinki underground master plan(video)

Image Gallery

<gallery caption=" " widths="150px" heights="150px" perrow="5"> Image:Vaanta.jpg|Vantaa River [19] Image:rivers helsinki.jpg|Vantaa River Basin[20] Image:Food for tomorrow.png|Proposal for Finland’s National Food Strategy [21] Image:Helsinki residential area.png|Eco-villas [22] Image:Itäkeskus underground swimming centre.jpg|Itäkeskus underground swimming centre [23]

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