What does it take to become a Green City?
In the parliamentary election campaign in spring 2011, there was a candidate whose advertisement declared him to be “Better than his Reputation”. The same goes for a city located 100 km to the north-east from the Finnish capital. In 1990’s, this city gained the notorious nick-name “the Chicago of Finland”. By the year 2010, however, criminality rates of various Finnish cities had easily surpassed the comparative figures of this Finnish Cleantech cluster hometown.Now, the living city of 102 000 inhabitants is on its way to become the Finnish Green City. But what does it mean? How does a city become “officially green”?There are some undeniable facts to support this status: efficient waste sorting and recycling, compact urban structure, energy waste usage as a fuel, important cleantech sales performance, and the most ambitious CO2 emission reduction target in Finland. Even excellent railway connections to Helsinki as well as to the closest giant city, St Petersburg, are arguments that grant Green City status to the city of Lahti.By investing in the new generation waste power plant KYVO II (www.roskatenergiaksi.fi), the city of Lahti is a for-runner in replacing coal by sorted energy waste as a fuel. The new power plant, starting this year, will use 250 000 tons of waste, and supply energy into the city heating network, as well as electricity.How could we improve the visibility of the Green City status of Lahti?Neither the inhabitants, nor the visitors know much about green projects and achievements in Lahti. Maybe we need something concrete and big, something that people can easily see and relate to environmental thinking. A couple of – or even a dozen – wind energy plants, “wind mills”, close enough to the highway and the railway, would allow thousands of people see daily, how we focus in renewable energy and sustainable development . Another step to be taken is the one into a bus run by clean electricity – let it be bio-waste or wind generated. These buses should then be painted blue and green – to match the beauty of the lake Vesijärvi and the forests surrounding the Salpausselkä ridges.Which reminds me: Welcome to the skiing marathon Finlandia and to the world cup event, Lahti Ski Games!