Sustainable development is at the core of YIT’s new strategy

YIT Corporation News October 25, 2019 at 07.00 a.m. 

Kestävä kehitys YIT
Kestävä kehitys YIT

Sustainable living and sustainable actions are high priorities for cities striving to reach their climate targets as well as investors and consumers. 

The target set in the Government Programme is for Finland to be carbon neutral in 2035 and carbon negative possibly as soon as 2040. For Finnish society to have any chance of achieving these targets, the construction industry must be fully engaged in the climate effort.  

The use and construction of the built environment account for about half of the world’s consumption of natural resources and approximately 40 per cent of the total consumption of energy. A third of all greenhouse gas emissions arise from the use and construction of buildings. The construction industry has a major impact on the climate, but it has not been very widely discussed to date. Air travel, consumption habits and the food we eat have received a lot of deserved attention in the climate discussion, but it is likely that the focus will soon shift to construction and housing.  

Accordingly, many construction industry operators have begun taking active measures on this front, and YIT is no exception, says YIT’s Head of Sustainability Mia Ranta-aho. 

“YIT has set long-term climate targets for the next 10 years. The targets support the short-term targets we have previously set for sustainable development.” 

YIT’s long-term targets are as follows: halving the CO2 emissions arising from the Group’s own operations and YIT’s self-developed projects by 2030, using 2019 as the baseline; striving to build properties that are carbon neutral during their use; and starting to report property-specific CO2 indicators for self-developed projects from 2020 onwards.   

“The recent report by the World Green Building Council, for example, sets a target for the construction industry of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide embodied in materials by 40 per cent by 2030. Our target, which is a 50 per cent reduction, exceeds the WorldGBC target,” Ranta-aho points out. 

Sustainable development is one of the cornerstones of YIT’s strategy. To expedite efforts in this area, YIT has established the Green Growth development programme, which is divided into the development of the Group’s own operations and new business opportunities.  

Better calculation capacity guides the transformation 

There is no easy solution for achieving the targets. Halving CO2 emissions requires, among other things, improving operational efficiency and reducing waste, implementing new circular economy solutions and making broader use of renewable energy. 

“We can’t do it all on our own. Much of the effort to halve CO2 emissions depends on increasing our cooperation with suppliers. This calls for strong partnerships,” Ranta-aho says. 

Achieving the long-term climate targets also involves moves into new areas. For example, YIT intends to expand its service offering to include the customers’ use of their apartments by becoming a provider of renewable energy, such as geothermal heat.  

“In order for us to take more responsibility for reducing emissions, we need to be involved in the full life cycle of housing and the use of properties.” 

Developing the Group’s calculation capacity is a key aspect of achieving the climate targets. 

“CO2 calculations will be genuinely incorporated into decision-making for us and our partners. Calculations are helpful not only in construction operations but also in reporting and transparency,” Ranta-aho explains. 

Sustainability to emerge as a key criterion alongside price in the housing market of the future  

Over the past two years, global warming has reached an unprecedented level of public attention. States, businesses and individuals have had to challenge their previous choices and notions, as the scientific community has repeatedly published worrying figures. “We have 11 years,” was the widely quoted message from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last autumn.  

“We must achieve a well-functioning circular economy in the construction sector; otherwise, the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius will be next to impossible. Our planet’s carrying capacity simply cannot sustain the current increase in material consumption,” said Krista Mikkonen, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, at a World Green Building Council event organised in New York in late September.  

According to Ranta-aho, sustainable living and sustainable actions are high priorities for cities striving to reach their climate targets as well as investors and consumers. For example, it is not at all unlikely that the participants in the housing market of the future will make the same kinds of comparisons as today’s consumers when they are shopping for groceries or planning an overseas trip: the eco-friendly qualities of an apartment will emerge as a significant buying criterion alongside price. 

“People will no longer simply focus on square metres. Instead, they will have a better understanding of the factors that contribute to the climate impacts of living and housing. How you live will emerge as a key issue alongside the question of where your apartment is located,” Ranta-aho concludes. 

For further information, please contact:
Juha Kostiainen, Senior Vice President, Sustainable Urban Development, YIT Corporation, tel. +358 400 721 475,
Mia Ranta-aho, Head of Sustainability, YIT Corporation, tel. +358 50 383 9490,
Hanna Malmivaara, Senior Vice President, Group Communications, YIT Corporation, tel. +358 40 561 6568,  

YIT is the largest Finnish and significant North European construction company. We develop and build apartments and living services, business premises and entire areas. We are also specialised in demanding infrastructure construction and paving. Together with our customers, our nearly 10,000 professionals are creating more functional, attractive and sustainable cities and environments. We work in 11 countries: Finland, Russia, Scandinavia, Baltic Countries, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland. The new YIT was born when over 100-year-old YIT Corporation and Lemminkäinen Corporation merged on February 1, 2018. Our restated pro forma revenue for 2018 was approximately EUR 3.2 billion. YIT Corporation's share is listed on Nasdaq Helsinki Oy.