Department of Design

NODUS Research Projects

This page contains information on the projects NODUS researchers are currently part of.

NorDark – Unconventional Methods to Inform Sustainable Design: Mediating the Needs of People and Nature in Nordic After-dark Environments (2021-2024) 

Urban developments are growing, and related design has evolved by putting human needs and interests first. In order to develop in a sustainable way, we urgently need to balance our needs with the needs of nature. Education and policymaking play crucial roles to provide balance for responsible practices, however, concrete data and knowledge is necessary to inform policy development. In this broader context, one focus area particularly relevant in Nordic countries is the use of electric light in after-dark outdoor environments, and the impact it has on flora, fauna, and energy use, as well as human behaviour and wellbeing. Our project strives to develop new knowledge crucial to design for sustainability in the urban after-dark. To achieve this aim we bring relevant disciplines together with representatives from design, technology, psychology and ecology.

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Team Leader:

PAUL Cities: Pilot Application in Urban Landscapes – Towards Integrated City Observatories for Greenhouse Gases (2021-2024)

PAUL Cities is a large project with 31 partners funded by the EU Horizon 2020 instrument’s Green Deal call. The project aims to support the European Green Deal by solving specific scientific and technological problems related to the observation and verification of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from densely populated urban landscapes. These are fossil fuel emissions hotspots and are therefore at the heart of emission reduction efforts globally. This project will open the door for multiple services towards cities that support sophisticated climate action-related decisions and investments. The role of the NODUS team is to benchmark existing services and develop new service prototypes for the end users of observational emission data such as city administrators.

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ICOS Cities logo and images of cities

Team Leader:

Post-doctoral Researcher:

 Tatu Marttila

Tatu Marttila

Postdoctoral Researcher

ORSI Research Consortium (2019-2023)

ORSI investigates fair and robust methods to make Finland environmentally sustainable, by ORCHESTRATING TOGETHER with decision makers, citizens and businesses.

In the Aalto team, we investigate how private consumption needs to change, focusing on the development and use of indicators and tools such as footprint calculators. Our goal is to broaden the use of footprint data in the development products and services, for supporting changes in everyday life. In concrete terms, we examine carbon footprint calculators and personal carbon budgeting tools such as Sitoumus2050 and experiments that promote everyday changes such as the international Sustainable Lifestyles Accelerator project. We also develop new tools for governing sustainable consumption.

Links to video presentations of our recent research:

ORSI (2019-2022/25) is a research consortium funded by the Strategic Research Council at the Academy of Finland, grant# 13327771. Our website,

A table stating how welfare states have to move towards a less unsustainable eco-welfare state

Aalto Group Project Leader:

 Mikko Jalas

Mikko Jalas

Senior University Lecturer

Post-doctoral Researchers:

​​Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance - Biosolids to Biochar (2022)

The Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance (CNCA) is focused on achieving carbon neutrality in leading urban hubs all over the globe. Their mission centres on ambitious environmental targets in GHG reduction and carbon drawdown solutions for the urban environment. The current Biosolids to Biochar project is a collaboration between Aalto University and four CNCA cities, Helsinki, Stockholm, Boulder, and Minneapolis. It aims to assess the feedstock and application possibilities of biochar in the City of Helsinki. Additionally, the project is intended to raise awareness of biochar opportunities in the collaborating cities by delivering a guide to practitioners. The work in Aalto University has its roots in several past projects on biochar applications in urban green areas. The Urban Carbon Sinks (2019) andCarbon Lane (2020)  have both been part of an EIT Climate KIC funded project on carbon drawdown initiatives in the urban areas.

    Biochar and wood it was made of

    Photocredit: Valeria Azovskaya

    Jätkäsaari future park

    Photocredit: VSU Architects

    NONTOX: Removing Hazardous Substances to Increase Recycling Rates of WEEE, ELV and CDW Plastics (2019-2022)

    NONTOX project is developing a combination of technologies to recycle hazardous plastic waste generated from Waste Electrical and Electronics Equipment (WEEE), End of Life Vehicles (ELV) and Construction and Demolition Waste (CDW). The project has eight work-packages, each focusing on unique parts of the NONTOX area of interest, from the gathering of reliable statistics to novel pretreatment methods, and from developing new innovative approaches to valorise the recycled materials to the communication of design considerations. The role of Aalto team in the project is to be involved with material testing and design ideation, as well as in the communication eco-design considerations and recommendations to designers, researchers, and other actors.

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    nontox table

    Project Researcher:

     Tatu Marttila (D.A.)

    Tatu Marttila (D.A.)

    Researcher, lecturer / Aalto ARTS Design

    2021–2022 Post Docs in Companies Project Seeks Radically People-centered Approaches for Increased Local Renewable Energy Utilization in Finland

    In this PoDoCo project with Helsinki-based energy consultancy VaasaETT (Vaasa Energy Think Tank) and NODUS, we aim to research innovative but impactful ways to boost local renewable energy utilization and related energy business in Finland through radically people-centered approaches. In practice, we will design and develop ideas and solutions that will increase the general understanding of people on practical energy issues in terms that are meaningful for them. We believe that energy facts are simple, and that people are ready for the information: they just need to be presented with relevant facts in appropriate contexts and meaningful ways, including understandable units. The project will result in recommendations for policy and businesses e.g. in the building sector. This is a Post Docs in Companies (PoDoCo) programme project, funded by Tekniikan Edistämissäätiö.

    A temporal picture for the NODUS researchers who haven't provided their profile photos

    Project Contact:

     Sini Numminen

    Sini Numminen

    Postdoctoral researcher

    NODUS – Sustainable Design Research Group

    NODUS Sustainable Design Research Group undertakes transdisciplinary design research for sustainable futures.

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