A campus geared for sustainable development

The key environmental impacts of campuses are related to energy consumption, transport and recycling. A campus operating in line with the principles of sustainable development is a key part of the University's campus strategy.
Väre ja Kauppakorkeakoulu aurinkopaneelit Kuva: Mikko Raskinen / Aalto-yliopisto
Image: Mikko Raskinen / Aalto-yliopisto

We operate and develop our campus and our other sites in line with the principles of sustainable development. The key environmental impacts of the campus are related to energy consumption, transport and recycling, and we work actively to develop the energy efficiency of our existing property portfolio and to reduce energy consumption in our campuses.

Aalto University campuses actively work to develop the energy efficiency of their present building base and to decrease energy consumption. Aalto University Campus & Real Estate (Aalto CRE), which manages Aalto's properties, makes an effort to produce its own energy in an environmentally-friendly manner. Aalto CRE is responsible for approximately 75 percent of the facilities used by the university. The objective is to achieve a energy self-sufficient Otaniemi by 2030.

Energy efficiency agreements create concrete targets and incentives for energy savings

Aalto CRE is committed to reducing campus energy consumption by 2015 to 10.5% of what it was in 2014. The targets are defined in the national energy efficiency agreement for facilities (TETS), which 38 real estate sector companies have already signed. The TETS energy efficiency agreement is a part of Finland’s comprehensive package of voluntary energy efficiency agreements, which aim to make it possible for Finland to achieve the energy savings targets set for it. 

The intermediate target is a drop of 7% by 2020. This target aims to ensure as great an energy impact as possible early on. The consumption figures for 2014 were 36,155 MWh electricity, 50,465 MWh heat and 150,038 m3 water. The largest implemented renewable energy projects are Dipoli’s geothermal pumps, as well as the solar panels on the roofs of Maarintie 8 and the Computer Science building. For more information on energy efficiency agreements please see the Motiva website.


Energy self-sufficient Otaniemi 2030

The goal of the Energy Self-Sufficient Otaniemi 2030 project is to make the Otaniemi campus energy self-sufficient by 2030. An energy self-sufficient campus requires a comprehensive campus-wide energy system, in which the production, transfer, distribution, storage and consumption of energy support one another. It is essential that consumption can be reduced to reach this goal.

The aim of the project is to define the technical and financial conditions and guidelines for building a comprehensive campus-wide energy system. Energy self-sufficiency ensures, above all, the cost-efficiency of Aalto CRE's energy procurement in the long term. The project will be carried out in phases.

The reference point for the goal set is year 2014 when the Energy Self-Sufficient Otaniemi 2030 project was launched. At the time, nearly all energy consumed in the buildings located on campus and owned by Aalto was produced outside Otaniemi, with Otaniemi having only small-scale production.

Most of the Aalto CRE buildings have been built in the 1960s. The energy efficiency of these buildings can be improved and the functionality of their facilities can be enhanced to correspond to current requirements through renovations.


The combined power consumption of all campus buildings was 33 GWh in 2016. In relation to square metres, their average power consumption was 95 kWh/m2. This consumption is not divided equally between all buildings, as the six most power-hungry buildings consume approximately 50% of all electricity. Even minor energy efficiency improvements in these six buildings are significant considering the total consumption. Electricity for Aalto CRE is acquired via Nord Pool.

Currently, the output of small-scale electricity production is 310.8 MWh in Otaniemi. Electricity is mainly produced by solar panels on roofs, and this figure accounts for 1% of all electricity.

In 2013, some of the electricity procured was certified as renewable energy. In 2014 and 2015, nearly all electricity consumed was covered by certified bio and wind power, in addition to local production. Starting from 2016, all electricity consumed has been covered using renewable forms of energy.  Certified electricity includes a guarantee of origin, i.e. the seller of the electricity must produce at least as much electricity as is indicated in the guarantee using the forms of energy indicated in the guarantee.

Aalto Campus
Image: Mikko Raskinen / Aalto University


Campus buildings are connected to Fortum's district heating network. Their combined consumption of district heating was 46 GWh in 2016. In relation to square metres, the average heat consumption was 130 kWh/m2.

In Espoo, district heating is mainly produced at combined heat and power (CHP) plants that use natural gas and coal. To cover peak heat consumption mainly in the winter time, heat is produced in the Otaniemi district heating plant. The plant uses natural gas and heavy fuel oil. Otakaari 1 uses district heat made from renewable sources. 

According to a survey conducted by the Geological Survey of Finland (GTK), the Otaniemi area has at least good and partly excellent geoenergy potential. As a result of the survey, heat from geoenergy is now used, for example, in Dipoli. Heat from geoenergy is also used in Saha (Konemiehentie 1), Otaranta 4 (Aalto Inn), Väre building (Otaniementie 14) and School of Business' building (Ekonominaukio 1). Currently, the buildings produce approximately 856 MWh of geothermal heat per year, covering 2% of total consumption.

Deep Heat, the geothermal heat plant project of St1, is in progress in Otaniemi. Its aim is to drill deep holes in to the Earths crust for obtaining geothermal heat. It is estimated that the pilot production plant for geothermal heat will be completed in 2019. When completed, the plant is estimated to cover up to 10% of all district heating needed in Espoo.

In addition to heat from geoenergy, 20–25 MWh of heat is produced per year using solar thermal energy in Aalto Inn and Otakaari 5.


In some of the campus buildings, cooling energy is produced mechanically using a compressor-driven cooling unit. Geoenergy systems are also used for cooling in the summer. In addition, some buildings are equipped with air source heat pumps that act as separate cooling units.

As the power consumption of the cooling units is not measured separately, the need for cooling is estimated on the basis of energy reviews and audits conducted in the buildings. The total cooling energy consumption is approximately 1,000 MWh per year.

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'The way we spend our time makes a big difference'

Director of the Creative Sustainability programme Mikko Jalas taks about self-sufficiency and sustainability.
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Research & Art Published:

SUB researchers lead new sustainable textiles consortium

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Research & Art, University Published:

Aalto to coordinate three new SRC consortia

Aalto University received EUR 9.2 million or 18 percent of the funding allocated.
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