In 2016, the university continued to strengthen responsibility and sustainability in its core activities research and education. The key aim in the university’s updated strategy is to respond to the big challenges society is facing, such as climate change and the growing inequality in society.
Sustainable development at Aalto University in 2016
Teaching and research
Aalto University's objective is to integrate responsibility and sustainable development into all teaching and learning. In 2016, the university surveyed how responsibility and sustainable development were evident in the objectives of bachelor’s degree programmes. It was revealed that the objectives are most commonly related to the students' understanding and ability to adapt their learning to the societal and ethical context. In addition, the objectives may be related to the content of a particular field of science: for example, sustainable use and processing of natural resources are the focus areas in terms of content at the School of Chemical Engineering.
In 2016, a total of 487 (2015; 341) peer-reviewed articles and conference papers on the subject of sustainable development were published in the university. This is approximately 15% (2015; 11%) of all the university’s publications. The number of bachelor's theses had decreased from 2015 and the proportion of doctoral dissertations remained fairly constant, whereas there was a slight increase in the number of master's theses. In addition, many of Aalto University’s research projects are indirectly linked to sustainable development via e.g. the utilisation of research results.
Publications related to sustainable development 2016
Number and share of all publications
Through its research and education, the university aims to respond to the big challenges society is facing, such as climate change and the growing inequality in society. The university's multidisciplinarity and strong expertise in fields such as the circular economy support the creation of new understanding and new operating practices. Aalto University participates in the societal discourse through many open seminars and events. Aalto supports academic freedom and free international mobility and, like many universities, it is also a member of the Scholars at Risk network.
Environmental impact of campuses
A campus operating in line with the principles of sustainable development is a key part of the university's campus strategy. The most significant environmental impacts of the campus are related to energy consumption, transport and recycling.
Specific consumption of electricity, heat and water in Aalto University’s properties has evened out. Energy efficiency has been increased by optimising facility use and, for example, by using ecological heating and increasing the number of solar panels in certain buildings. Aalto University Properties Ltd is responsible for about 75 per cent of the facilities used by the university, and the intention is to cover all the facilities of significant scope used by the university in reporting.
Specific consumption of electricity and heat
Aalto University Properties Ltd (kWh/brm²)
Specific consumption of water
Aalto University Properties Ltd (l/brm²)
Aalto University's greenhouse gas emissions continued to fall. Consumption of electricity and heat in the facilities as well as air travel have all decreased from 2015.
Greenhouse gas emissions (tCO₂ eq.)
Reuse of waste at Aalto University has stabilised at an excellent level. Of the waste generated in the facilities, 95 per cent was recovered as material or used as energy in spite of the several relocations that took place on the campus in 2016.
Waste amounts according to handling method 2016
The University has made an effort to decrease paper consumption as part of recognising responsible approaches in the University’s daily activities. The consumption of copy paper continued to fall from previous years.
Copy paper consumption