Poop-powered horse show at forefront of sustainability efforts

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Helsinki International Horse Show's Jumps Green initiative was a great success, generating enough sustainable energy to power its own event, and more.
Helsinki International Horse Show’s Jumps Green initiative was a great success, generating enough sustainable energy to power its own event, and more. © Satu Pirinen

Generating electricity from horse manure produced at an international show is one of the success stories of sustainability in horse sport.

Not only did last month’s Helsinki International Horse Show (HIHS) generate enough energy to power its own event, it also produced a surplus of 36 MWh – enough energy to propel an electric car 288,000km or heat 36 Finnish apartments for a month.

And it was all down to dung.

Finnish company Fortum HorsePower – partner of the HIHS since 2015 – provided almost 600 bales of shavings for bedding for all 235 horses competing at this year’s show. In return, the animals produced 112 tons of manure, which was transformed into 168MWh of energy at local plant, Fortum Jarvenpaa.

It wasn’t the only “green” initiative at the show; as part of its ‘HIHS Jumps Green’ project, the organising committee reduced overall paper usage by an impressive 64%, employed electric and bicycle-powered transport wherever possible, significantly increased recycling and reuse efforts across the venue and massively reduced food waste and single-use plastics.

© Eeva Vaahtera / Helsinki International Horse Show

Equestrian sport fans – and there were more than 50,000 of them across the five-day event – got involved, too, posting their best environmentally friendly initiatives on the event’s social media platforms. One lucky participant received free tickets for the 2019 show, which will feature a Green Partner project with Fortum.

The FEI, horse sport’s governing body, is aiming to lead the way in ensuring sustainability is at the heart of horse sport, by helping implement equestrian-specific reporting indexes and creating a comprehensive guide book for event organisers world-wide.

On the day the International Federation (IF) Sustainability Forum was held in Lausanne, Switzerland, the FEI was already working behind the scenes on sustainability initiatives, including its adoption earlier this year of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), and is now well on the way to adapting each of the GRI indicators to fit the unique world of equestrian sport.

Crucially, this will allow equestrian event organisers across the globe to effectively implement and measure the impact of their sustainability initiatives. And sustainability has been a part of the equestrian sport’s landscape for some time.

Feedback from the Helsinki International Horse Show is being incorporated into an updated version of the FEI’s flagship Sustainability Handbook.

The 36-page guide, originally published in 2014 and now being updated in line with the GRI, serves to aid and encourage event organisers to implement sustainability initiatives that will create positive social and economic legacies while reducing negative environmental impacts.

FEI Headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland is a Minergie certified building - a Swiss standard indicating low energy use.
FEI Headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland is a Minergie certified building – a Swiss standard indicating low energy use.

Like all good leaders, the governing body knows the hard work must start at home. So the FEI’s headquarters in the Olympic Capital of Lausanne have become the centre of a Green Office project.

Although the HQ of horse sport is already a Minergie certified building – a Swiss standard indicating low energy use – the FEI is asking more of itself. Following an external audit, employees from top to bottom are reducing the organisation and building’s environmental impact still further by such actions as eliminating disposable cutlery and cups, improving recycling efforts through increased segregation, and avoiding waste types by eliminating their sources.

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