Asuntoyhtymä’s new head of sustainability: “Lofty words aren’t enough – we need action.”
Antti Niskanen (MSc) has been appointed as Asuntoyhtymä’s head of sustainability. Niskanen, who started in his role in mid-August, is in charge of Asuntoyhtymä’s sustainability work, while going through all the group’s operations to make them as sustainable as possible.
“The concept of sustainable development inspires me. It puts me in a visionary mindset and gives me new ideas about a company’s existence in the longest possible term," Niskanen sanoo.
Niskanen is involved in Asuntoyhtymä’s daily assessment and decision making processes. The practical issues he deals with include, for example, the building materials and energy sources for future properties. Niskanen hopes to clarify the meaning of sustainable development throughout the organisation.
Asuntoyhtymä was already drafting its strategy for sustainable development prior to Niskanen’s arrival, but the plans will now be crystallised and fine-tuned to perfection with his help. Sustainability, however, has always played a part in Asuntoyhtymä’s decision-making. This year the last of the company’s fully-owned properties that weren’t yet using renewable energy have begun to do so. Energy class A for highest energy efficiency is the target for every new development. Niskanen has been enthusiastically welcomed by his colleagues.
“Putting sustainable development and social responsibility into practice requires dedicated expertise and time. Appointing a head of sustainability for Asuntoyhtymä was crucially important, as to make a real difference, you must put in the effort, too,” says Jaakko Niskanen, the CEO of Asuntoyhtymä.
Sports background helps Niskanen aim high
Niskanen has graduated from Aalto University with an MSc in Production Economics. His Bachelor’s and Master’s theses have focused on sustainable business and development. Until last spring, however, he had a career playing professional basketball.
“The benefit of the sports background in my current role is that I’m used to taking full responsibility for my own work and always doing my absolute best. You must aim as high as you can, both in basketball and in continuous organisational development,” Niskanen says.
After his first month in the new job, Niskanen feels content. He is happy to have the chance to drive Asuntoyhtymä’s sustainability and enthusiastic about looking at the company’s operations through the lens of sustainable development. This means safeguarding the ongoing existence of not just the company but also the entire industry and the modern society.
“In the end, sustainability is a key issue for the entire building and property industry as well as our society. The current system isn’t sustainable, so we need changes,” Niskanen claims.
Success depends on social responsibility
Besides environmental sustainability, Asuntoyhtymä focuses heavily on the holistic well-being of its tenants as well as on social responsibility. To prevent loneliness, the company provides tenants opportunities to meet their neighbours and spend time together. Asuntoyhtymä’s Joo Kodit apartment complexes are designed to have communal spaces, and the residents of its Kirkkonummen Manhattan apartments are offered a regular shift to exercise in the new Joo.Arena sports centre.
“Social responsibility is a crucial part of business. For a company to be as successful as possible, it must ensure the happiness of all its stakeholders. In our case that means everyone from employees to our properties’ residents,” Niskanen says.
Next up, Niskanen will collaborate with Asuntoyhtymä employees to discover ways to further improve the wellbeing of everyone connected to the company.
Niskanen will share his thoughts about Asuntoyhtymä’s sustainability journey in the company’s blog. He plans to first open up the concept of sustainable development and to showcase the sustainability thinking at Asuntoyhtymä in more detail. In the future, he wants to focus on the practical actions the company is taking to make its operations ever more sustainable.
His first major objective in his role will be to specify and express the company’s sustainability programme in writing. At the same time, he will push small concrete steps from solar panels to eco-friendly floor materials. Niskanen is up for the challenge.
“The lofty words of a head of sustainability aren’t enough. That’s why I’m ready to work my fingers to the bone.”
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