Sustainability reports

The core impact of our operations is related to high-quality teaching and education, enabling solutions for pressing sustainability challenges. Developing a sustainable campus is also a key part of our strategy.
An Aalto pen lying on the page of a study book, students working in the background / photo by Aalto University, Aino Huovio

Sustainable development at Aalto University in 2019

Sustainable development acquired more prominence at Aalto University in 2019 through the work of preparing the new Aalto strategy. With the adoption of the new strategy, the whole university community commits to building a sustainable future. Aalto University was the first Finnish university to endorse the UN Sustainable Development Goals Accord, which it signed in February 2018.

Teaching and research

  • Science and art help us make sense of our complex world and, at the same time, challenge our own ways of thinking. Together they bring new knowledge and perspectives, which we need more than ever to solve global grand challenges. Aalto University’s research covers broadly and innovatively different disciplines and contributes strongly to sustainable development in a multitude of areas.
  • Sustainable development was the topic of 11% of all publications at Aalto in 2019.
  • Nine master’s degree programmes at Aalto focus on sustainable development in the 2019–2020 academic year. The Financial Times placed Aalto University’s Master’s Programme in Creative Sustainability on its ranking list of best practices in business education at the end of 2019.
  • In 2019, Aalto University introduced a new Curriculum Planner tool for Bachelor´s and Master´s programmes. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were also included in the new curriculum tool.
  • Last year saw the launching of a host of sustainable development research projects. The quality of Aalto University’s research is shown in the funding received: a total of 9.2 million euros, or 18% of the overall disbursement awarded by the Academy of Finland Strategic Research Council went to three Aalto-coordinated consortiums.
  • Aalto University’s active engagement in sustainable development networks in Finland and abroad continues apace. A well-attended seminar series on circular economies was organised and Aalto also participated in the World Circular Economy Forum in Helsinki.
  • In May, the Sustainability Science Days conference was organised together with Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS).
  • In November, the university published Aalto Sustainability Stories. The publication presents research and teaching projects on sustainable development and circular economy.
Aalto University publications on sustainable development 2019

Publications related to sustainable development 2019

Number and share of all publications

Societal impact

  • 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.
  • Aalto University is an active member in a number of sustainable development university networks in Finland and abroad.
  • The worldwide Times Higher Education Impact ranking assessed for the first time how well universities perform in advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Aalto placed 19th in the overall ranking, and 5th in the category of Partnerships for the goals.
  • In 2019, a call for tenders was put out to find an innovation partner tasked with providing digital solutions to support Aalto University in its work to reach the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A result of the competition was AaltoSDG, a mobile application to inspire Aalto students, employees and partners to make sustainable choices in their daily lives.
UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) applied in Aalto University courses

UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) applied in Aalto University courses 2020-2022

Aalto University courses with SDG content

Environmental impact of campuses

  • Campuses operating in line with the principles of sustainable development are a key part of the university's campus strategy. The most significant environmental impacts of the campuses are related to energy consumption, transport and recycling.
  • Investing in energy efficiency is an important part of campus planning. The use of geothermal heat and solar power is being incrementally expanded on a continual basis.
  • The new main building of the School of Business was inaugurated in February 2019. The School of Business building, the shopping centre A Bloc, and the Väre building, the School of Arts, Design and Architecture’s building, form a building complex. The aim of the complex is to achieve energy class A, and its heating system uses district heating only for the share of domestic water. The building complex has 90% self-sufficiency in heating and cooling, and the solar panels installed on its roof cover part of its energy requirements.
  • Aalto University’s heat, power and water consumption have decreased within the past five years. The volume of greenhouse gas emissions has kept declining. In addition to maintaining a high recycling rate, the university aims to decrease the generation of waste.
  • In 2019, Aalto University commissioned a survey of the natural capital and ecosystem services of the Otaniemi campus. The purpose was to identify and describe the effects of the campus’s natural capital on the monetary value of the buildings and the wellbeing of people in the area.
Specific consumption of electricity and heat 2019

Specific consumption of electricity and heat

Aalto University Campus & Real Estate (kWh/brm²)

Specific consumption of water 2019

Specific consumption of water

Aalto University Campus & Real Estate (l/brm2)

Greenhouse gas emissions 2019

Greenhouse gas emissions (tCO₂ eq.)

Waste amounts according to handling method 2019

Waste amounts according to handling method 2019

Copy paper consumption 2019

Copy paper consumption

Five students standing in the rain. One has a bike and two have a red umbrella.

Key figures of 2019 and reports

Year 2019 was Aalto University's tenth year of operations. Academic results have developed strongly in the university's key areas.

Aalto University
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