Households managed to reduce their carbon footprints significantly during the test period of sustainable everyday living

A Greenreality Homes operated test period of sustainable everyday living was arranged for voluntary households in Lappeenranta from September to October. The households participating had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with everyday living that produces a smaller carbon footprint and experiment with goods and services that support sustainable ways of living. During the test period, the households managed to reduce their carbon footprints by approximately 12 percent.

The 46 homes that were a part of the test period were located in the Lappeenranta region in the city center, urban areas and the countryside. All-sized households were represented from apartment buildings, detached houses and terraced houses. Also the participants varied from families with children to single people and their ages from working-aged to a few retirees.

Carbon footprints were calculated for the households before the test period, and during the beginning workshop, together with D-mat Oy, a company specialised in sustainable development, they created a roadmap for mitigating them. From the roadmap, they selected things they wanted to try out right away during the test period and use for a longer period of time.

The most popular things selected were related to sustainable eating and reducing unnecessary physical items and consumption. The households wanted to switch red meat to fish or chicken, try vegetarian diet days, as well as favor local food and products that were close to their expiration date. They could also try purchasing recycled goods and mitigating the purchasing of gifts to only necessary goods and services. The households also tested the KonMari method, a system of organizing a home by organizing and getting rid of physical items. In addition, many wanted to pay attention to water consumption and reduce time spent in the shower.

The test period brought savings to the households and increased well-being

Primarily, many of the homes that participated in the test period had a smaller carbon footprint compared to an average Finn, however, for some it was significantly higher. The average carbon footprint of Finns is 10,3 tonnes of CO2/person/year, which is rather high compared to international standards. The participants that were able to reach the highest amount of reduction were able to decrease their carbon footprint with about two tonnes. On average, the households were able to mitigate their carbon footprints by 11 percent on an annual level. The actions planned until the year 2030 would decrease annual emissions by 55 percent.

At the closing event on November 11 the households got the results of the test period and together considered how to advance sustainable ways of living in the future. It was noted in the conversations that reducing carbon footprints doesn't have to mean that life has to become more miserable, but it rather entails plenty of positive aspects. This was also noticed by a participant of the test period, Liina Kuittinen.

–  Adding cycling to everyday mobility, plant-based diets and different financial savings increase well-being, health and happiness.

The participants also noted that sharing their experiences and communality motivated them during the test period and will enable the spreading of sustainable ways of living in the future. Communality originated from the Facebook group, workshops and vegetarian diet courses for example.

At the closing event, the households made a wish that the participant houses would be monitored later and more households would participate in the activity. This is also the city's goal, Sanna Laukkanen, an expert from the Greenreality services of the city of Lappeenranta notes.

–  Greenreality Homes -information and monitoring the carbon footprints of households will in the future be implemented to 8th graders' homes through Junior University. Thus the homes of an entire age group are reached annually. We intend to continue activity with new volunteer homes as well.

Goods and services provided by partners support the execution of everyday actions

The households also experimented with goods and services that support sustainable living provided by partners. Elektroway provided site surveys for checking solar power systems, air-source heat pumps and air to water heat pumps. Lappeenrannan Energia guided the participants in keeping track of their water and energy consumption and lended them energy consumption calculators. The South Karelia Energy Advisory Service provided tips on energy efficient living and thermal cameras for testing.

Autotalo Ripatti provided electric cars and Auto-Suni electric, hybrid and gas cars for test driving. Shared cars could be explored through Hertz Car Sharing services. Intersports provided electric bicycles and KaaKau city bicycles. Etelä-Karjalan Martat arranged courses on plant-based diets for the participants, and Etelä-Karjalan Osuuskauppa provided a shopping bag delivery service in S-Market Myllykeskus. Etelä-Karjalan Jätehuolto provided waste containers for plastics and multi-compartment waste containers, as well as instructions on waste sorting. Saimaarium Nature and Science Center provide instructions on the climatic effects of everyday choices and information on the effects of climate change on the nature of Saimaa and the surrounding environment.

Greenreality Homes–activity and the participation of citizens in a sustainable way of living is developed in the Greenreality Homes and Companies project. The project is pioneered by the city of Lappeenranta and Lappeenranta University of Technology. It is funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the city of Lappeenranta and Lappeenranta University of Technology. The Greenreality Homes test period is also part of the international Sustainable lifestyles accelerator.

The Sustainable lifestyles accelerator works in seven countries. From Finland, in addition to Lappeenranta, also Porvoo, Vantaa, Kuopio, Valkeakoski, Lahti, Kauniainen, Helsinki and Joensuu are members. The goal is to get 500 Finnish households to join in 2019 altogether. The international project is coordinated by the German Wuppertal Intstitute and in Finland D-mat oy, with which Lappeenranta collaborates.

Additional information on the activity and contact information of the households:

The city of Lappeenranta, Greenreality Services
Expert Sanna Laukkanen
+358 50 5326 187, sanna.laukkanen@lappeenranta.fi

Additional information on the results of the test period:

D-mat Oy
CEO and expert on sustainable development Michael Lettenmeier
+358 40 5412 876, michael@d-mat.fi