solar power


Finlandia Hall. The photo was taken with solar powered camera. Photo: Tiina Junno

While I was sitting opposite Musiikkitalo – Helsinki Music Centre – on my way inside to see a performance a couple of weeks ago, I started wondering about renewable energy usage in cultural venues. Culture and art are often seen as pioneers when it comes to new ideas, ways of thinking and acting. Is this true also with renewables? I am interested in hands-on usage of, e.g. solar power, and self-sufficiency in energy production in culture and art. Since I realised I do not know anything about how cultural venues in Helsinki have approached the subject, I decided to explore the idea a bit further.

My assumption is that places where culture and art are practised use a lot of energy. If they are in the middle of a city, they are often sizeable buildings that host either a variety of activities and/or large art collections that require great amounts of electricity in lighting, sound system, stage engineering, temperature and humidity (art galleries), security, cafés and restaurants, and in overall functions of a building.

Musiikkitalo. The photo was taken with solar powered camera. Photo: Tiina Junno

Musiikkitalo. The photo was taken with solar powered camera. Photo: Tiina Junno

The place of my latest visit, Musiikkitalo building, is flanked by Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Finlandia Hall (the first picture), and Hakasalmi Villa which is part of Helsinki City Museum. The National Museum of Finland is also close by across the street. All these venues offer space for cultural activities that require a lot of energy in one way or another but only one of them does have solar panels installed: Finlandia Hall.

Finlandia Hall had panels installed in its roof in December 2016. The solar power plant of 180 panels (single panel 265W) produces approximately max 25% of the monthly energy consumption of the building (Helsinki City). Finlandia Hall states that it is committed to supporting sustainable development and that all their activities aim towards environmental responsibility. Furthermore, investing in renewable energy goes along the lines of the energy efficiency and zero-energy building principles of Helsinki.

But why doesn’t every large cultural venue have solar panels? It seems to me that renewable energy usage in culture buildings themselves is a perfect way to bind culture and art to the biggest questions on the planet right now. What I have gathered from news articles and conversations is that there is a willingness to contribute to sustainability with environmental choices but the desired action might not always be easy to carry out. So what are the obstacles to solar panel installation in cultural venues?

I can guess that many old buildings as well as architecturally significant buildings may not be on the top of the list when it comes to unproblematic solar panel installation. Urban planner Alpo Tani from Helsinki City Planning Department says that buildings of cultural historical value are often protected which means that you need a permission to make changes. When dealing with protected buildings, specific requirements need to be met when making changes and renovations. The same goes for built cultural environments. But protection does not prevent solar panels: the aforementioned Finlandia Hall is protected and has solar panels.

Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma. The photo was taken with solar powered camera. Photo: Tiina Junno

Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma. The photo was taken with solar powered camera. Photo: Tiina Junno

I have also been wondering whether the shape of the roof complicates matters. Modern architecture has some peculiar shaped roofs which might not offer possibilities for solar panel installation. Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, for example, has an interesting looking curved roof. However, Miko Huomo from GreenEnergy Finland Ltd that installed the panels of Finlandia Hall as well as Tampere Hall in Tampere reveals that the ideal roof for solar panels is an even surface stretching out to one direction but that it is not necessary. If the surface area is more complicated and does not have a lot of large even surfaces, the panels can be installed into smaller groups.

I also wanted to find out what other obstacles except possibly weird roof surfaces and the protection of cultural historically valuable buildings could hinder solar panel installation. According to Miko Huomo, the shadow of another building may prevent installation. A high building close by might cast too much shadows on the neighbouring roof so that the sun does not have a clear route to the panels.

These three are all very physical ways that can test solar power plant construction on rooftops. There are probably other ways that can hinder changing into renewables despite the desire to do so. Possible other obstacles could be the expenses and the ownership of a building.

I had an inkling that solar panels were not common in buildings that housed cultural events or art galleries. Mainly because of the rules and regulations around protected buildings. It seems to me that there are some interesting challenges to overcome when aiming to go solar such as shadows of high structures or buildings, peculiar roofs, and how to integrate solar panels while preserving a cultural historically protected building. I was happy to find out that a popular architectural sight and venue such as Finlandia Hall already had solar panels and that many cultural venues were interested in sustainability. I am curious to see what will happen in the future in regards to cultural buildings and renewable energy.

Written for Global Senses
Text by Tiina Junno

Sources: City of Helsinki, Green Energy Finland Ltd, Helsinki City Planning Department


World Village Festival. The photo was taken with solar powered camera. Photo: Tiina Junno

When you go to a festival, how large is the carbon footprint of the event? I visit World Village Festival in Helsinki every year and sometimes even in the form of an exhibitor. This year I explored the festival as a case study of a green event from the point of view of an ordinary festival-goer. I talked with my contacts and friends, and thought about what kind of discoveries on green experiences and actions towards sustainability I wanted to discuss in the following article.

World Village Festival (Maailma kylässä in Finnish) is a multicultural festival that celebrates the world and shines light on current global issues such as development co-operation, tolerant multiculturalism and sustainability. The festival on 28-29 May 2017 was full of music, talks, sun, food, art, dance, world views, perspectives, discussions about global issues, and smiling festival-goers. The festival has a different theme and regional focus every year. This year’s theme was civil society while the regional focus was on Latin America.


What has the biggest impact on the carbon footprint of a festival? If you think about festivals in general, the most obvious answer for many would probably be transportation. Festivals bring international artists and their gear from abroad by planes, festival organisation transports construction materials, exhibitors bring their goods by car and audience might travel from far away. The next thing that comes to mind is electricity used at the festival by exhibitors, stages, lighting and overall infrastructure. And thirdly, there is food. The whole food production chain from growing all the way to transporting, cooking and possible food waste creates a sizeable carbon footprint. Later in the text, I will take a look at how World Village Festival has approached environmental matters.

But first some background information. World Village Festival is a green festival. It aims to minimise its carbon footprint in both producing and planning the festival. As I was wondering what kind of measures the festival has taken to ensure environmental sustainability, I found out that they have joined EcoCompass, a Finnish environmental management system, to realise their goals. The festival has been granted the EcoCompass certificate for the first time in 2014.

I learned that EcoCompass has been developed to support small and medium-sized businesses, public events and city administration offices in environmental management. It provides its clients with a ready-made model, tools and a personal adviser to help in setting up an environmental management system of their own.

I have previously been in contact with Julie’s Bicycle, a London-based charity that supports the creative community in environmental efforts. They have a fairly similar kind of system that provides tools, support and advice for festivals, museums and organisations among others which is one of the reasons why I was drawn to learn more about EcoCompass.

The photo was taken with solar powered camera. Photo: Okko Meinilä

The photo was taken with solar powered camera. Photo: Okko Meinilä

When I started to explore what EcoCompass was all about I assumed that you needed to be already ‘green’ to be eligible for the system but discussing it with Sari Kemppainen from EcoCompass proved me otherwise. You don’t need to be ‘green’ from the beginning. The idea of the system is continuous improvement on environmental matters. You can develop your environmental work towards sustainability or make it even more sustainable if you are already ‘green’. The EcoCompass certificate, which you will receive after creating your environmental management system, will tell your clients, partners and customers that your business or event is committed to protecting the environment.

When you start creating your own EcoCompass system, you will have to do an initial survey on your environmental work and the major environmental impacts of your activities. The EcoCompass adviser will support you on this. Next you will have to identify the legal requirements, i.e. follow the environmental laws. An environmental policy that is the basis of your goals and measures is also needed.

With the adviser’s support, you will make sure that you fulfill the criteria that EcoCompass has set for events. Some of the points in the criteria are, e.g. training in environmental matters, a waste management plan, and preparing a yearly environmental programme which includes several sub-sectors that I want to explore in connection to World Village Festival. Some of these sub-sectors are waste reduction, saving energy and changing to green electricity, optimising logistics, and environmental subcontracting.

When your environmental system is ready, the EcoCompass adviser will give their approval of the finished product. It will be audited by an objective outside auditor. If your event has fulfilled the criteria, you will receive the EcoCompass certificate. Afterwards, the system will be monitored annually and you are also required to report every year. The events that are organised for several consecutive years will be audited every third year. This is also the case with World Village Festival whose certificate has been renewed and audited in 2016.

I wanted to find out how environmental matters stated in the EcoCompass criteria were realised at an event, so I contacted the World Village Festival Team and explored the festival myself.

Next I will examine how the enviromental actions are visible to the festival-goer.


I arrived by foot and the first thing I noticed were the amount of bikes stationed on the outskirts of the festival area. This isn’t a surprise: Helsinki likes to bike. The promiximity to railway station is also a plus since you can arrive right beside the festival area by commuter trains or long-distance trains. Many buses and trams also have their stops on the railway station area so you can easily join in going green with the festival, no matter the public transport of your choice.

One of the sub-sectors of the environmental programme stated in the EcoCompass criteria is the intensification of logistics and commuting. This means that logistics and moving to and from the area will be made more efficient and less straining to the environment.

When I asked about the logistics from Niila Leppänen, the production manager of the festival, he told me that the festival favours local subcontractors and when possible, centralises transportation to one operator which reduces the usage of only partially full cars.

World Village festival also encourages visitors to arrive by public transport, foot or bike to help minimise the impact of CO2 emissions. The festival is held at Kaisaniemi Park and Railway Square in downtown Helsinki, both of which are easily accessed by public transport anywhere from Helsinki and surrounding regions.


As I approached the festival area from Railway Square, I took notice of an array of blue solar panels outside the back of a large tent. I watched many passersby stop to check out the panels. I was one of them. This was one of the ways the festival has approached energy efficiency. The solar panels powered the World Books Tent and a solar energy expert, Janne Käpylehto from Solarvoima, talked about renewable energies in the Amazon Stage on World Books Tent on Sunday.

While the solar panels obviously did not power the whole festival, I was glad to see that solar power had been taken into consideration. World Village Festival has stated that it is committed to enhancing energy efficiency and green electricity production (World Village Festival, Environment and responsibility). So if not solar power, what kind of electricity does the festival use?

“The electricity for the festival is renewably produced wind power from Helen Ltd,” says Niila Leppänen. During the night the festival switches into so-called night electricity. This means that when electricity consumption is low during the nighttime, smaller generators will be in use and some of them will be shut down completely for the night. Saving energy by consuming it less when it is not needed goes along the lines of the environmental programme requirements of the EcoCompass criteria.


When you are with more than 70 000 people on a limited area during a weekend, there is bound to be waste. The ways recycling is organised and an event’s commitment to waste management is something I always pay attention to. The EcoCompass criteria includes a waste management plan, and reducing waste is also one of the environmental programme sub-sectors in the criteria.

The festival’s environmental programme includes developing waste management and recycling practices as one of its goals. There were seven recycling points around the festival area and recycling assistants helped the festival-goers in putting the waste in the right bins. Since the festival offers a large selection of food vendors, I was glad to find out that also the disposable tableware was biodegradable.

If someone wonders where all that waste will go, the festival gives you the answer. Energy waste produces recycled fuel to replace fossil fuels. Recycled metal can be used for making new metal products. Glass produces glass wool and glass packages. Biodegradable waste turns into compost soil. Recycled paper turns into newsprint paper and recycled cardboard is used in making carton. And on top of it, by recycling paper, carton and cardboard, you can save trees. (World Village Festival, Environment and responsibility)


The international kitchens offer something for everyone. According to some food vendors I talked to, festival-goers were eager to try new tastes. One of the new experiences for me was Finnish fresh vegetable chips in the form of spirals made of potatoes, beetroots and sweet potatoes. These chips with an artesan feel were produced by Spiraaliperuna. Very tasty with little salt on top. And very messy by the looks of all of us trying to balance a large paper cone of vegetable spirals on our hands. But the taste was delicious so a little mess didn’t matter. And it didn’t hurt that the recycling bins were close by too.

World Village Festival. The photo was taken with solar powered camera. Photo: Tiina Junno

World Village Festival. The photo was taken with solar powered camera. Photo: Tiina Junno

World Village Festival is a great place to explore foods you’ve never tasted before. Since food production in all its stages from growing to transport to preparing it causes strain to the environment, the festival has committed to taking environmental issues into account also in products and services acquired through subcontracting as stated in the EcoCompass environmental programme requirements. This means that the food vendors at the festival are committed to offer at least one vegetarian option in their menu and that they are encouraged to use local and organic products as well as fair trade.

I think vegetarian options should be self-evident. After all, vegetarian food puts considerably less strain on the environment than meat. I am glad that using organic and local ingredients is encouraged. Organic is healthier for us humans and for the environment where the food is grown. Also, transportation from local producers causes less emissions. For the goods you cannot grow in Finland, the favourable alternative is, of course, fair trade.

Festival-goers were also encouraged to bring their own water bottles which is what I had with me too. Especially Sunday’s sunny weather demanded that everyone took action in hydrating themselves. You could refill your bottle at one of the three water points at the festival.


I used to work in fair trade, and since this was a festival for the whole world, fair trade was well represented. Talking with my former colleagues and friends at fair trade stands assured me that fair trade continues to draw people in. From past experiences I know that environment and sustainability are important to consumers of fair trade.

One of the 10 fair trade principles is respect for the environment which goes well with the idea of a green festival. This means that in fair trade you are committed to use materials from sustainably managed sources, to reduce energy consumption, to use renewable energy if possible, to minimise the impact of waste and to use organic or low pesticide production methods. (World Fair Trade Organization)

Nowadays fair trade is accessible through supermarkets, online stores and many big sellers which means that all the more people are able to support fair trade producers and also environmentally friendly production methods. To me that feels like a win-win situation.


I had a really good time exploring the festival this year. Festival Saturday was a bit chilly but Sunday welcomed festival-goers with a sunny forecast. The surrounding park lawns were filled with people having picnics, relaxing and watching the comings and goings of the festival area. Talking with friends and people I used to work with in previous festival years revealed that people were a little disappointed that there had been some cancellations in the music programme but other than that, everyone seemed to be happy to be taking part in the festival.

These days audiences at festivals are increasingly aware of environmental issues and sustainability. When their favourite festival can show that it has been verified a green festival by an external reviewer, it can raise the festival’s ranking in their eyes. Many aspects of a festival are relatively easy to develop towards a sustainable direction when you have the right tools and support such as EcoCompass.

The one thing that is generally difficult to carry out environmentally friendly, is the transportation across borders. Distances can be huge and in many cases flying is the only reasonable transportation mode. In the long term, sustainable transportation needs to be accelerated worldwide. I have high hopes that the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement will push this matter forwards in the future.

From Global Senses’ point of view, the festival’s mission to increase environmental awareness and challenge festival-goers and exhibitioners to go green with them seems effective. Along with doing your share on keeping the area clean, recycling and making your own carbon footprints smaller, you could get to know environmental organisations, get involved in their activities and look for new ideas on how to be (even more) environmentally sustainable in the festival and in your own life. It certainly worked for me so maybe it worked for my fellow festival-goers as well.

World Village Festival will be held again on May 2018 with a focus on the sustainable development goals of 2030 Agenda.

Written for Global Senses
Text by Tiina Junno

The festival is organised by Kepa, an umbrella organisation for development co-operation with main partners the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Union, Ben & Jerry’s and Maailman Kuvalehti – a magazine with stories from around the world.

EcoCompass was created by the municipalities of Helsinki, Vantaa, Espoo and Kauniainen, Helsinki Region Environmental Services Authority (HSY), Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) and Helen Ltd. The system is based on Nordic environmental management systems and on international standards on environmental management. EcoCompass has approximately 100 clients among events, businesses and city offices. At the moment, it offers services in a few areas in Finland.

Sources: World Village Festival, EcoCompass, World Fair Trade Organization, The United Nations







The photo was taken with solar powered camera. Photo: Okko Meinilä

I have been following Climate Street since the spring 2016. My first thought when I found out about the project was: “This is interesting.” I was curious to see the residents and businesses of the street named as climate street trying out new things that aimed towards positively affecting both the living and working conditions of people as well as bringing forth ideas to fight climate change in the future. We at Global Senses were also thinking about participating in the Climate Street agile pilot competition last year but did not have enough time at that point. And of course, I was rooting for the project because I like to follow climate-friendly things happening in my city.

Climate Street is a project that aims towards climate change adapted low carbon city. The project was realised in Helsinki and Vantaa. Since I live in Helsinki, Iso Roobertinkatu street which was the climate street in Helsinki, made me curious. I wanted to find out what kind of collaborations, new ideas and events were taking place.

Both the residents and businesses at Iso Roobertinkatu street seem to have had interesting experiences. Climate Street organised a competition for agile pilot projects and then funded three projects which were realised in 2016. The residents of the street also got to try out appliances that saved energy and/or water in their homes. Apartment blocks got energy audits to find out the energy-saving possibilities of an apartment building. Real estate companies and housing co-operatives on the street monitored the buildings’ emissions and one apartment block even installed a solar power plant on their roof. In Climate Street bootcamp, businesses searched for ideas on how to move their businesses towards low carbon direction.

The residents of one building at Iso Roobertinkatu street generated ideas about cosier living conditions in Happy Housing Cooperatives Workshop organised by Dodo, a Finnish environmental organisation. Some of the better living conditions described by the residents were “empty cellar space turned into a wine cellar, cosy sitting area in the garden, beautiful and energy-efficient lighting systems” (Climate Street). Who wouldn’t want something like that for their living quarters?

Two of the three Climate Street funded agile pilots were concentrated on food. Zero Food Waste fought against food waste at supermarkets whereas Sustainable Meal helped restaurants and event planners to create and sell sustainable meals. The third pilot was Resource Efficient Existing Buildings (REEB) that aimed to develop new digital tools in order to help increase the space utilisation rate and advance the sharing of spaces, resource effectiveness and circular economy in the existing building stock.

In 2017, the project organised a competition for an ecologically efficient terrace. Helsinki city was looking for ways to lengthen the the restaurants’ and bars’ short summer terrace season here in the north and invited businesses, organisations, designers, engineers, architects and students to participate. The aim was to build the world’s first ecologically efficient terrace in Helsinki during the summer 2017.

What intrigued me the most of all in Climate Street were the energy saving devices and servives that the people living or working on Iso Roobertinkatu street got to test. I used to be wary of smart devices, and IoT (Internet of Things) is still a concept I am trying to grasp. But if I could control my home when I am away, for example, to see if my coffee maker or stove is on or off, I would have a lot more peace of mind. This is what Cozify does. It is a wireless smart home hub with which you can control your (smart) devices, safety of the house and lighting among other things. The other tested service that I found interesting was Fourdeg Smart Heating Cloud Service which maintains the desired temperatures in the rooms of an apartment with the help of smart thermostats. This kind of system would have been great to have back in my student days when I lived in apartments where you had to adjust the temperatures again and again with thermostats that did not want to co-operate.

The project is coming to an end this summer. The latests news from Climate Street tells us that the winners of the eco terrace competition have been chosen. While I wait for the ecologically efficient terraces to rise up in the city, I can go back to all those ideas that have taken root while I was following the project. Maybe I will try energy saving devices in my own home, explore what it’s like to control your coffee maker from afar or do my part in reducing food waste.

Written for Global Senses
Text by Tiina Junno

Sources: Climate Street, City of Helsinki