Biodiversity must be taken into account in urban development in order to create environments that benefit everyone. There are several methods and operating models for this.
City dwellers prefer to live in a district or neighbourhood that is close to nature and services and offers excellent traffic connections. This is revealed by the Sustainable urban environments 2020 barometer that was conducted by YIT.
“The more natural the environment, the more important it feels to the residents, and this is also true for city dwellers,” Jari Niemelä, Professor for urban ecology at the University of Helsinki sums up.
Niemelä says that compared to rural environments, cities can actually have a rich variety of species. In the case of plant species, for example, this is explained by the large number of invasive plants. A good example of the richness of urban nature is the growing Siberian flying squirrel population in the capital region. If Siberian flying squirrels are found in an area, it must be protected, which can prevent the implementation of planned construction projects.
“When this happens, both the flying squirrels and people get beautiful forests, but there might be a shortage of apartments,” Niemelä says.
When cities grow and become denser, we need practical tools for ensuring a variety of green spaces in street areas, parks and on plots. The green factor tool (in Finnish) is one of the methods commonly used by cities.
“The green factor tool covers, for example, the planting and preserving of vegetation, rainwater management, and the building of green roofs and walls on the surfaces of structures,” says Linda Wiksten, Urban Design Manager at YIT.
The green factor target level is specified in the local detailed plan, and the designers of the construction project ensure that the target is met with the help of calculations.
YIT has implemented the operating model for sustainable environmental construction (in Finnish), which guides the planning and construction of green spaces. The aim of sustainable environmental construction is to plan, construct and maintain the environment so that the harmful effects of construction are mitigated, prevented or even compensated for.
“The key thing is to plan the green network in parallel with the built environment. This allows us to focus densely populated areas in places that have good transport connections and maintain a reasonable green network that offers recreational and environmental values,” Wiksten says.
Shared objectives for sustainable towns and cities
Sustainable urbanisation is based on the Sustainable Development Goals (Agenda 2030) that are agreed on by the UN members and signed also by Finland. YIT is committed to the SDG’s with regard to sustainable cities and communities and, for example, climate actions. A comprehensive approach to sustainability comprises ecological, social, and economic sustainability, and growing cities must meet all of these criteria.
“From the point of view of ecological sustainability, mitigating the climate crisis is one of the most important questions. In other words, how can we reduce carbon dioxide emissions, increase carbon-neutral solutions, and take into account the adaptation to climate change,” Wiksten points out.
Urban diversity and sustainability through green spaces
Johanna Savolainen, Communications Manager, YIT Corporation, tel. +358 (0)44 305 4594, firstname.lastname@example.org
YIT is the largest Finnish and a significant North European urban developer and construction company. We create more sustainable, functional and attractive cities and living environments. We develop and build apartments, business premises and entire areas. We also specialise in demanding infrastructure construction. We own properties together with our partners, which supports the implementation of our significant development projects. We also provide our customers with services that increase the value of properties. We employ about 7,400 professionals in 10 countries: Finland, Russia, Sweden, Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland. In 2020, our revenue amounted to approximately EUR 3.1 billion. YIT Corporation’s share is listed on Nasdaq Helsinki Oy. www.yitgroup.com