Forum Virium

Insight, service design and app concept development

#insight #servicedesign #digital

How to help people to make carbon neutral choices?

We got a challenge

Climate change has become the centre of the public debate. Especially after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the special report announcing that global warming needs to be limited to 1.5 °C, the topic has been on everyone’s lips.

The city of Helsinki has set its own goals to become carbon neutral by 2035. Forum Virium, the innovation unit within the city organization was searching ways to limit the global warming as part of the EU-wide mySMARTLife Project. They challenged us to imagine how we could help people make carbon neutral choices. Certainly, we accepted the challenge!

“I need more practical tips – not just general recommendations.”

Do we really have something new to offer?

We began the work with our development partner Lucky Few by asking: could a digital service help us achieve these goals and if so, what kind of service should it be? There’s already a plethora of feasible and well-known carbon neutrality apps, services and campaigns. To create something fundamentally novel, we really needed to dig deep.

To define potential user segments and opportunities, we utilized Kuudes’ Informed Consumer tool. By interviewing experts in the field, organizing both external and internal workshops, conducting questionnaires for the public and testing the concept with potential users, we managed to discover more specific needs.

Key insights

#1 Information should be linked to everyday life

Many services provide general information about carbon neutrality but personal data is hard to reach.

#2 The abstract should be made tangible

‘Good’ choices are not always visible in your everyday life, and it’s hard to see how they influence the big picture

#3 Good choices need to be the easiest ones

Many consumption decisions are guided by routines and habits that are not actively reflected upon.

#4 Understand what really motivates the consumer

People are motivated by different matters – carbon neutrality is merely one of them. How can it be linked to other values?

The increase of information around climate change creates more anxiety than relief, we need an app that is empowering and uplifting.


An app that is supportive and solution-oriented

Instead of pointing fingers, our Carbon Ego app encourages the consumer to adopt a climate-friendly lifestyle with a positive and solution-oriented angle. By visualizing data, the app gives an understandable overview of how moving, living, eating and consumption habits produce carbon emissions. The app assists users in improving their daily behaviour by giving tangible, straightforward tips and invitations to challenges. The Carbon Ego character communicates with the user, making the topic more approachable and fun.

In the future vision, the functionalities are built on real-time data and automation. This requires organisations to share their data with the general public. The ‘minimum viable product’ version of the app aims to lower this threshold; it offers organisations an example of creating common good by opening up data sources. Presently, the MVP version is being built and it will be tested with potential users in the near future.

While the level of ambition was raised high, we knew that we’d need help with the service design that shares the ambition and were lucky to have Kuudes involved with the project. The project clearly needed the deep understanding of consumer and the tools to learn more, and the outcome is more than we expected. We can’t wait to show this app to the public!

Timo Ruohomäki
Forum Virium Helsinki

For more information:

Susanna Ollila
Senior Service Designer
+358 40 672 2515