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Sustainable development services provide added value to customers of shopping centre

Commissioned by Hertsi shopping centre, students developed solutions in a joint 3AMK course.

Shopping centre Hertsi in Herttoniemi, Helsinki.

Ecological aspects and sustainable consumption are key principles for an increasing number of people. What kinds of services can shopping centres offer to meet both their own and their customers’ needs and also comply with the principles of sustainable development? A joint course of the 3AMK institutions, focused on the circular economy, sought to find solutions to this question. The course was provided in cooperation with Hertsi shopping centre.

Hertsi, opened in the Herttoniemi district of Helsinki in March, offers shopping and restaurant services as well as many other daily amenities, such as a library and youth facilities. Since the premises also house a daycare centre and a nursing facility, the shopping centre is also known as a neighbourhood service centre.

Hertsi commissioned the students to develop the shopping centre’s services, making them more sustainable and ecological, as well as to devise ways to make this visible to customers. The goal was to primarily develop services for the shopping centre as a whole, not just for the individual entrepreneurs.

Hertsi wanted the services to be based on two circular economy-style business models, aiming at longer product life cycles or resource efficiency and recycling.

- The circular economy, green values and sustainable development are aspects in which Hertsi wants to stand out. Students have the boldness to think in new ways, and these were the kinds of ideas that we wished to get from them in this project, says Hanna Feodorov, Shopping Centre Manager, describing the starting point for the project.

Study path in the circular economy offered as 3AMK cooperation

The study unit was a part of the English-language study path, Circular Economy for Sustainable Growth, jointly offered by the 3AMK alliance formed by the Haaga-Helia, Laurea and Metropolia universities of applied sciences. The 15-credit module, offered in the spring term, comprised three parts, which approached the circular economy and sustainable development from different perspectives.

The part focusing on circular-economy business models and service design was provided in cooperation by Haaga-Helia and Laurea. Students from the different higher education institutions and fields formed teams in which they began developing solutions for Hertsi’s assignment, applying service design methods.

The exceptional circumstances this spring also had an impact on the project, preventing students from interviewing the shopping centre’s customers on site. Instead, they decided to use various ethnographic research methods online, including an extensive survey conducted through the area’s Facebook community and interviews done in online meetings.

The study unit concluded at the end of May, when each student team presented their service concepts remotely. The students had approached the assignment from very different perspectives, and their solutions included, among other things, sustainable development events, clothes recycling and activities implemented using VR technology.

“Incredibly diverse ideas”

Hanna Feodorov, Shopping Centre Manager, listened with great interest to the students’ presentations of their final service concepts:

- The students came up with ideas that the shopping centre sector would not immediately think of. These brand new ideas are very valuable for us, she says.
- I was also pleased to see how thoroughly the students had gone into the project. The final ideas were of such quality that any one of them could be offered as a service at Hertsi.

Feodorov had the chance to comment on the student teams’ ideas during the project, and she noticed early on that they approached the challenge from very different perspectives.

- Having a diverse group of students from different fields was an important factor in our getting such a varied range of ideas, Feodorov continues.


Read more about studies in the circular economy project during this exceptional spring in the article written by Maria Lantermino, Anni Pärssinen and Anu Henttonen, who participated in the study path.