Sustainable development is at the heart of our operations
Aalto University is committed to building a society based on sustainable development and entrepreneurship. We are focused on providing solutions to the major challenges facing society by combining groundbreaking science with design expertise and economic thinking. Sustainable development also plays a key role in campus development.
We offer our students courses and packages on sustainable development perspectives across the university, including nine Master's programs focusing on sustainable development.
Aalto's expertise encompasses three interdisciplinary themes that focus on developing advanced energy solutions and human-centered built environments, and increasing health and well-being.
'Sustainable development and environmental problems are central to our strategy. The sustainable use of materials; ICT and digitalisation; art & design; and international business know-how all play a key role in our academic research and teaching. Sustainable development also guides our campus development and other activities as a university', says Ossi Naukkarinen, Aalto University Vice President for Research.
Aalto University has signed the commitment of the Universities to Sustainable Development Goals as the first university in Finland. Aalto is also a partner of Espoo in the UN's Sustainable Development Leadership Program together with Palo Alto (USA, Stanford University), England's Cambridge, Heidelberg (Germany) and Noida (India). The program aims to achieve the UN's Sustainable Development Goals by 2025.
In 2017 Aalto – together with six other organisations – set up a water responsibility commitment that challenges Finnish companies to identify water risks in their value chains, and to develop sustainable water use. Aalto also combats the negative effects of climate change in cooperation with companies as a member of Climate Leadership Coalition (CLC). The first centre of the UN Sustainable Development Network operates at Aalto Campus.
Recently, Aalto signed the Ilmastoveivi2019 climate petition, calling for the EU to commit itself to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees by 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality in 2040.
Sustainable Development is coordinated by Aalto Sustainability Hub, which brings together researchers from different disciplines, helps to integrate sustainable development perspectives into university education, and broadly promotes sustainable development as part of university activities.
Sustainable campus development
The environmental impacts of the Aalto University campus are energy consumption, mobility, and waste management. Sustainability is central in the university's campus strategy.
Aalto University Properties is committed by 2025 to have reduced campus energy consumption to 10.5% of its 2014 level. The savings targets are defined in the National Energy Performance of Buildings Agreement, which has already been signed by 38 real estate companies. It is part of a comprehensive set of energy-efficiency agreements aimed at achieving the energy saving targets set for Finland.
The interim target is to save 7% by 2020, and the aim is to maximise the savings effect as soon as possible. In 2014, the campus energy consumption figures were 36 155 MWh of electricity; 50 465 MWh of heat; and 150 038 m3 of water. The largest renewable energy projects implemented are the Dipoli ground source heat pumps; the solar panels on the roofs of Maarintie 8 and Information Technology House; and the solar panels and ground heat pumps of the School of Business.
The most recent example is the new block of Otaniemi campus which consists of the A Bloc shopping centre, the School of Arts, Design and Architecture, and the School of Business. A total of about 47 500 square meters of floor space is 90% self-sufficient in heating and cooling. It is powered by solar panels on the roof of the block, and geo-energy drilled wells under the building complex.
Aalto University Sustainability Report
Examples of sustainable development research:
Examples of sustainable development study programmes:
Vice President, research
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