Sustainable development at the heart of VTT
We take account of the principles of sustainable development in research and development and in our internal operations. Our reporting on corporate responsibility follows GRI guidelines. We describe examples of corporate responsibility in this review, and publish a report of selected GRI indicators on the VTT website (Read more on VTT's Corporate responsibility page).
The focus areas of VTT's research – bioeconomy, low-carbon energy, digitalisation, cleantech, resource-efficient production, and health and well-being solutions – target a better living environment and a sustainable economy. Our spearhead and innovation programmes realise the goals of our research focus areas. Our research activity produces a stream of totally new, sustainable solutions to the major challenges facing society. According to studies, the utilisation rate of our research results is extremely high, which means that VTT has a highly important impact in promoting sustainable development. Our research results and experts are also widely called upon as a basis for public decision-making on the journey to a society founded on sustainable development.
Responsibility for our own personnel
Together with the pension insurance company and occupational health care, VTT engaged in well-being at work projects, to improve employee well-being and the organisation's productivity. Various new projects with this aim will begin in 2017.
Systematic competence development and training, and work-based learning, form a key element of our responsibility for our own employees.
Calculated using the Zero Accidents forum method, the frequency of accidents in the parent company rose slightly compared to the previous year, at 2.12 per million working hours. The accident frequency rate throughout VTT Group was 2.19, which was somewhat higher than last year. One
occupational accident resulted in a longer absence. It occurred when an employee twisted an ankle, after stumbling while walking in a laboratory (51 days of sick leave). Because only one accident, and no serious ones, occurred in the parent company, the gravity of accidents fell markedly compared to the previous year (8.9 days of sick leave per single accident).
An electronic system has been introduced for collecting, processing and reporting on safety observations made on rescue procedures, and occupational, fire and environmental safety. Operational training began in early 2016. In recent years, a large proportion of accidents have occurred due to slipping and tripping over while walking. This led VTT and accident insurance company IF to offer staff non-slip grippers for shoes. Almost half of the employees took up the offer. In addition, IF trained managers in accident and incident investigation.
We implemented the 2016 projects of the three-year plan for 2015–2017, developing environmental and occupational health and safety according to plan. The themes were the occupational health and safety culture and its development, strengthening the supervisory chain as QEHS actors, the common workplace, and cleanliness and order. Supervisors diligently engaged in occupational health and safety tours throughout our organisations.
Responsibility for the environment
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd has ISO9001 and ISO 14001 quality management systems in place, certified by DNV GL Business Assurance Finland Oy Ab.
There was a gap year in spot checks required by the Energy Efficiency Act. Electricity consumption was, by and large, at the same level as 2015 (-0.8%), despite the mid-year addition of the Centre for Nuclear Safety and the Vakola office of VTT Expert Services Ltd.
VTT bought and cancelled a quantity of emission allowances from its EU emissions trading quota; these were equivalent to the CO2 emissions (86 tonnes) of VTT's car fleet in 2015. VTT used an electric car in 2016, which was driven a total of 9,335 kilometres or just under 2% of the kilometres driven in VTT cars.
The number of flights continued to decline in line with the target, with a reduction of 3% in comparison to 2015.
A markedly higher reduction in CO2 emissions was achieved: almost 19%. The use of private cars has grown over the last five years, despite the fact that we encourage the use of VTT's own and rental vehicles, most of which are under three years old and therefore lower-emission than the car stock on average.
There was no further reduction in the amount of paper bought although, for 2016, this estimate is based on consumption early in the year. The previous fall in the number of printouts gave way to a rise of just over one percent from last year's minimal level. White paper disposal volumes returned to their normal quantities, despite the fact that several employees moved out of a few addresses. Eco products account for just under a quarter of purchase volumes of office equipment and around a third of unit volumes.
VTT does not operate in ground water areas, but in Espoo it does operate close to the Laajalahti Natura Nature Reserve. Monitoring of the oil spill from the Otaniemi metro building site revealed very small contaminant concentrations in wastewater sewers, at 1.5% of the threshold values given in the permit decision. It is proposed that the number of samples taken in 2017 be reduced to two from the previous three. In 2016, Environmental Deed of the Year 2015 was awarded for the switch to recyclable printer cartridges.
Responsibility for research ethics
In February 2016, the media ran stories of suspected research misconduct relating to a scientific article on diabetes research and concerning the Human Metabolomics Research Group. VTT commissioned five external rapporteurs to investigate the matter. No evidence was found of misconduct or the violation of good scientific practices. The researchers in question lodged a complaint, with the Council for Mass Media, about the Helsingin Sanomat articles which had raised the suspicions. The Council upheld the complaints against the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper on two counts.