25 Jan 2023

More than loans: battling the energy crisis at NIB

One does not necessarily have to be an energy expert to see how Russia’s war in Ukraine brought an energy crisis to Europe. Similarly, we don’t always need to go to great lengths to battle against it. While we all agree that ensuring the green transition is the clear way to come out of this crisis for good, small actions can have big results in mitigating its short-term impact.

Energy efficiency has long been one of the main drivers of NIB’s business model – both in terms of our lending activities and organising the way we work.

NIB’s BREEAM Excellent certified headquarters in Helsinki has been part of the WWF (World Wildlife Fund for Nature) Green Office network since 2010. At the end of last year, our building passed the network’s latest inspection and received the Green Office certificate for the fifth consecutive time.

While the WWF Green Office programme has helped NIB to improve its in-house environmental management immensely over the years, 2022 came with new challenges. Russia’s war in Ukraine and the energy crisis that followed have pushed us to once again seek additional energy efficiency solutions to complement our financing.

One degree for the better good

As many other organisations operating in Finland, NIB signed up for the nationwide ‘Down a degree’ campaign that aims to permanently lower energy consumption and reduce electricity consumption peaks.

Since mid-October last year, the thermostats at our premises have been lowered by 1 °C. According to estimates by the European Commission, this small action alone can save around 7% of the energy used for heating. Combine this with the relatively warmer winter that we had Helsinki, and the results for NIB are even more substantial.

“By lowering our indoor temperature we have managed to decrease our energy consumption for district heating considerably last year. Compared to 2021 figures, it has dropped by 8% in November and almost 22% in December”, says Elina Mustonen, Head of Office Services & Facilities at NIB.

Everyone can play their part

To go beyond the office walls, NIB’s Internal Sustainability Council invited Helen Ltd to share their insights on the current energy environment, its impact on Helsinki’s green transition and everyone’s individual role with the Bank’s staff. Helen is one of the largest utility companies in Finland and NIB’s long-term client, which has recently linked its science-based climate targets with our financing through a sustainability-linked loan.

Kimmo Malin, Helen’s Public Affairs Manager, says that the energy crisis has not stopped the company’s push towards climate neutrality: “We are sticking to our carbon-neutral energy production plans and schedules. As a result of stopping coal powered energy generation at Hanasaari and Salmisaari power plants, Finland’s CO2 emissions will be reduced by around 5%.”

Although difficult to compare with impact of this scale, we can all play our part in mitigating the short-term effects of the crisis in our own homes. According to Malin, small actions such as reducing underfloor heating, taking shorter showers, or moving laundry times to later in the evening can reduce the pressures both on energy demand and our wallets.

Knowing how to use digital tools efficiently

Digitalisation is often described as yet another low hanging fruit to decrease energy usage. Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, even the most conservative of us have realised that remote work and online calls are a smart way to limit unnecessary commuting or face-to-face meetings wherever possible.

However, simply turning everything digital is not a panacea. Every email we send, every document we create and every data request we process needs computing power, which also requires energy. For this reason, last year NIB outsourced its in-house data storage to a centralised data centre with higher environmental performance and energy efficiency to further reduce energy consumption.

Read more about how we manage our operations in our annual report coming out on 28 February and on our website.