Marimekko wants to be on the frontline as the textile industry becomes more low carbon. The industry is known for its large environmental impact.
“We constantly have to find better low-carbon solutions. The energy overhaul in our Herttoniemi property is one concrete step towards that,” says Marimekko’s Sustainability Manager Saara Azbel.
Marimekko wants to develop its own operations in such a way that its impact on the climate is as small as possible. Last week the company published its 2021–2025 sustainability programme. One of the central objectives is to reduce emissions from its own operations by 40 per cent by 2025. It’s an ambitious goal in the industry.
In addition to its head office, the property located in Herttoniemi, Helsinki, houses Marimekko’s textile printing factory and two retail outlets.
The energy overhaul carried out in the property has cut its carbon footprint by 47 per cent in comparison to 2016. The annual reduction in CO2 is equivalent to the average carbon footprint of 21 Finns. As a result of the projects implemented over three years the property’s district heating usage has dropped by 47 per cent and electricity usage by 31 per cent.
“The results are really great. Energy efficiency is usually perceived as a slow drip of gradual improvements, but the impacts can be really big,” Azbel says.
Instead of one overhaul we should talk about many overhauls because almost 30 different stages were involved. The long-term plan included complete renovations, changes in the use of spaces, and energy investments. The completed energy investments included modernising ventilation, lighting and the building services technology, as well as renewing the chilled water station and the waste water heat recovery in the printing washing machine. Energy efficiency is taken into consideration in everything.
“It was very natural to do everything together. The project demanded very careful planning and coordination due to the fact that there were three projects being carried out at the same time,” says Property Manager Matti Puromäki from OP Property Management Ltd. OP Property Management bought the property from Marimekko in 2018 where they remain as a business tenant.
The planning and implementation of the overhaul was the responsibility of LeaseGreen, a company specialised in the energy efficiency of large properties. The joint objectives were to ensure comfortable, safe and stable indoor air conditions for the almost 200 employees at Marimekko, and to achieve this using the least amount of energy. According to Puromäki, LeaseGreen’s know-how in this area was of paramount importance.
“In terms of the entire project, the clear vision we got from LeaseGreen’s experts on what to do and what not to do was extremely valuable. We do not have the same deep level of understanding of energy efficiency issues.”
The Marimekko building covers an area of roughly 11 000 m2. The building houses a textile printing machine that has been in use since the 1970s, Marimekko’s head office and two retail outlets.
“We want to bring joy to people’s lives with colours and patterns. The textile printing factory in Herttoniemi also functions as an idea incubator and test laboratory where we try out everything new and creative,” Marimekko’s Saara Azbel says.
Tougher demands, tougher goals
The increased consumer and stakeholder interest in sustainability has been noticed at Marimekko too. The pandemic has accelerated change even more, even though the opposite was feared. Investors in turn are following closely what kind of sustainability goals companies set for themselves and how they report on them.
“This year is the first time that we compensated for the carbon footprint of our own operations. That’s why we are carbon neutral at Herttoniemi and in our other operative areas,” says Sustainability Manager Azbel.
Azbel is not able to say when there will be information about the carbon footprint on the famous Marimekko striped shirts and other Marimekko products. For the time being, Marimekko is monitoring its operative carbon footprint.
“We still have a lot of work to do. Marimekko’s long-term vision is that one day our products will have a zero net effect also in terms of emissions.”
Increasing the lifespan of the products is one area that Marimekko is investing in. The impact on the climate would be huge if we all used the clothes we already have a little longer. This seems like a contradictory idea to a clothes manufacturer. According to Azbel, it’s not.
“We advise customers on how to take care of our products so that they remain in good condition for a long time – or that the clothes do not need to be washed after every use. We also work to make sure that our products are as easy as possible to recycle and repair.”
The coming years are significant for the entire clothing industry. The industry needs new technologies and new systems to ensure more sustainable operations. Marimekko’s Azbel is happy that there are so many good things happening at the moment.
“For example, the production of recyclable materials is being developed in leaps, the quality is improving, and as a result the products are more durable. For this reason we will need less brand new material in the future.”
The Herttoniemi textile printing factory enables material development and supports innovation.
“Many manufacturers do not have their own production at all. Our own printing facility offers a unique opportunity for experimentation and innovation. And now it can take place earlier and more energy efficiently,” Azbel says.
Sustainability Manager Saara Azbel, Marimekko
+358 40 5335 119
Property Manager Matti Puromäki, OP Property Management Ltd.
+358 40 838 1037
CEO Thomas Luther, LeaseGreen
+358 40 534 4256