Karelia University of Applied Sciences

Karelia

Karelia University of Applied Sciences in Joensuu has started a new project “Communicative Energy” in North Karelia. The idea is to promote the carbon neutrality of digital services. This is a joint project of students and companies, with the purpose of diving deeply into the creation, collection and utilization of life cycle indicators for digital service providers and web-based companies.

TOWARDS WIDE PARTICIPATION

The aim is to actively involve entrepreneurs in the preparation of analyzes and interpretation of results seen from a business perspective, as well as to create transparency in the pursuit of carbon neutrality. According to senior teacher Lasse Okkonen, it would be difficult to implement the project without SimaPro software. The activities of this polytechnic project are aimed at the entire North Karelia region in Eastern Finland. So far, the school has sought cooperation with small and medium-sized enterprises, for example by mentoring the use of renewable energy in rural areas. Software created for SimaPro’s educational purpose has supported the teaching of energy and environmental technology for ten years in Karelia. Thus the school has a long and solid experience in integrating sustainable development and market thinking into education, but now is the right time to develop its activities even further; from the perspective of the communality and regional development of rural enterprises.

– In the past, companies have been providers of information to us and users of the results produced
by students. SimaPro has been used to create a wide range of life cycle analyzes and assessments. Now we want to go further and develop the operating model so that business partners play a more active role. We want to learn together how to bring sustainable development know-how even more strongly into business development, Lasse Okkonen says.
Previous projects have focused on energy management and renewable energy solutions. The trainings have promoted cooperation between rural companies in the production and use of renewable energy. Improving energy self-sufficiency has been targeted as part of the financial profitability of companies and new business operations, regional development benefits, better security of supply and environmental benefits. Karelia has received good experiences with this approach, and SimaPro has been involved in a variety of ways in bringing indicators to the assessment and supporting the calculations.
 
What is new on the horizon now is the development of scientific research.
– The intention is now to move from impact assessment in learning projects to applied research as well. In our new project, companies will also be given a new kind of partner role, where life cycle analyzes and assessments will be carried out together with students and entrepreneurs. This allows entrepreneurs to use the data strategically, as well as understand what is missing from the analyzes. For that reason, we acquired a new and more efficient version of SimaPro, Okkonen explains.

DIGITALITY AND CARBON NEUTRALITY AT THE CENTER

What we are experiencing now is a shift towards deeper data processing, learning, insights and active communication. The school is already conducting the first case studies supporting the ability of small businesses in North Karelia to map their indicators and interpret the results of life cycle impact assessments. In particular, companies whose business idea is based on digital and online production are examined. They want to be given a new strategic grip on the road to carbon neutrality. – It is not always remembered that cloud functions and digital solutions create large new energy needs at the same time as server capacity increases. We also want to use life cycle analysis to teach our students and small entrepreneurs that solving one problem may well create new challenges that need to be prepared for. A web-based society creates efficiency and transparency, but in some spots it increases the need for energy, which in turn can prolong the journey to carbon neutrality. That, too, must be taken into account, Okkonen reminds.

Karelia Vocational School has come to the conclusion that with the help of SimaPro’s tools, this research and development can be implemented smoothly and transparency will increase. In the end of 2021 it is also planned to share information with other school institutions on how the co-operation project with co-operation companies is progressing.

Text: Johanna Parikka Altenstedt

Karelia University of Applied Sciences Communicative Energy is a project to develop local energy communities, carbon-neutral online services and promote sustainability as a strategic choice for companies. Business Joensuu, the Ely Center, and the EU are also involved.
Karelia University

FACTS:

Contact: Lasse Okkonen

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