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The city of Kokkola is the Green Pioneer of the year 2023

Visualization of the Piispanmäki multipurpose building.

MuniFin warmly congratulates the city of Kokkola and the Piispanmäki multipurpose building on winning the Green Pioneer of the Year competition.

Over the course of the autumn 2023, MuniFin has looked at five finalists in the company’s competition for the title of Green Pioneer. Each of them has worked ambitiously to advance climate and environmental goals. Of these five finalists, the city of Kokkola and the city’s Piispanmäki multipurpose building project have now been chosen as the green pioneer of 2023. The multipurpose building, which will serve schoolchildren, daycare children, and city employees, will be completed in Piispanmäki in 2025.

Watch the video to see why Kokkola was awarded and what the prize money will be used for.

Sustainability and change were boldly taken into their own hands in Kokkola

The selection and evaluation of the finalists was the done by the Green Finance Team at MuniFin. Sustainability finance experts saw exemplary characteristics in each of the five finalists and their flagship projects. However, what made Piispanmäki special was how strongly the project showed commitment of the city to the realization of sustainable investment.

In Piispanmäki, achieving environmental goals has been ensured by taking the implementation of the project into their own hands. This has required careful resource allocation, participation, and commitment throughout the organization, the Green Finance Team assesses. This success, in turn, requires an effort to dismantle silos and familiar ways and create new practices. The planning of the project reflects familiarity with the requirements of green financing, such as energy efficiency and renewable self-sufficiency energy. The building will act as a learning environment for sustainable development. These factors made a deep impression on MuniFin’s experts.

“What was impressive was the extent to which sustainable construction has been examined in Kokkola, but also the precise and detailed material that made it easy for the Green Finance Team to assess the project. I would use the power word “ownership”: the city has boldly taken the themes of change into their own hands and preferred to do things themselves rather than buy things from outside. This has resulted in excellent impacts in the Piispanmäki project”, praises Rami Erkkilä, Senior Expert on Sustainable Financing at MuniFin.

The city of Kokkola has followed its strategic goals impressively and the work has been supported by the whole organization. At the same time, valuable learnings are accumulated and can be applied in future projects.

“Kokkola joined the Hinku network in June 2022. The following year, MuniFin chose us as the green pioneer of the year. We are enormously proud of this recognition. This has been a tremendous success story and speaks of the potential of the city in implementing sustainable development projects. The passion and desire of all stakeholders to not only achieve but also exceed the set goals have made this an exceptional experience. Of course, it also challenges and obliges us to continue the same path”, comments Veli-Matti Isoaho, Building Manager of the city of Kokkola, on the victory.

The prize money is used to involve Kokkola’s children and young people in green thinking

The Green Pioneer competition prize is 10,000 euros, which the winner can use freely for a sustainable development project of their choice. In Kokkola, there is already a preliminary idea of the use of the funds.

“We plan to organize a competition for schoolchildren, where the children get to brainstorm competition entries related to nature topics, such as recycling or climate change mitigation. The most creative and idea-rich works of each age group will be rewarded. The environment is a central issue for the happiness of younger generations. That’s why in Kokkola we also believe in the input of children and young people and want them to join in brainstorming a green future”, describes Isoaho.

The Green Pioneer of the Year was awarded for the first time in 2019, when the city of Joensuu won the competition with its “comprehensive approach”.

MuniFin thanks all the finalists of 2023 for their exemplary work on climate and environmental issues and for making these goals a part of everyday life. The other four finalists in the Green Pioneer of the Year competition were the municipality of Siuntio, the municipality of Pirkkala, Y-Säätiö (a foundation providing affordable social housing) and Sivakka (an affordable social housing provider owned by the City of Oulu.

Criteria for Piispanmäki multipurpose building’s victory:

  • In Kokkola, there is an exceptional ownership in the implementation of sustainable development projects. Their own expertise is actively developed.
  • In Kokkola, they have succeeded in an exemplary way in breaking down organizational silos and creating new ways of working.
  • The project is being implemented in accordance with exceptionally comprehensive sustainability goals, which at the same time reflect the best practices of green finance listed in the MuniFin’s Green Bond Framework.
  • Excellent environmental performance is achieved through energy-efficient solutions, but also through materials and certified practices at different stages of construction.
  • The diverse consideration and utilization of the environment as part of teaching and user experience.
  • The significant size of the building and its impacts during construction and use.
  • The building’s position in its environment as a place that brings together different stakeholders, which in part reduces local emissions and reduces the need for errand travel.
  • Social and societal ripple effects, for example, to different hobby and activity groups. The building offers extensive facilities for third sector activities.