Sustainability in campus operations
The sustainability of the campuses of the University of Helsinki and their operations is increased by providing the facilities and services needed for teaching and research with as low emissions and as high material efficiency as possible.

Practices and procedures observed on campuses are socially, ecologically, culturally and financially responsible. A sustainability and responsibility committee established by the rector carries the responsibility for the development, monitoring and reporting of campus sustainability and responsibility.

Aim­ing for sustainability in cam­pus op­er­a­tions

Our central goals are the reduction of energy consumption and related emissions, as well as the increased efficiency of facility use. The use of sustainable energy is promoted by the continuous improvement of the energy efficiency of buildings, as well as the independent and renewable production of part of the energy consumed by the University.

A programme of sustainable transport reduces the carbon footprint originating in the commute of the University staff and promotes occupational wellbeing. Bike racks have been installed in the vicinity of all University buildings, while shower and equipment storage facilities have been developed. An inter-campus biking competition has been organised annually.

Since 2011, Viikki Campus has held a Green Office certificate. Part of the energy consumed by the campus is produced on location by its own solar power plant. In 2019 all electricity used in Viikki will be renewable – in addition to the self-produced solar energy, the campus is purchasing green hydroelectricity.

Only Fairtrade coffee and tea are served at the University’s official events and meetings of the Student Union. Fairtrade products are available in the cafés and restaurants located in the University buildings. The University has been a Fairtrade university since 2013.

New solutions that promote sustainability were introduced in the renovation of Think Corner, which opened its doors in the autumn of 2017. From the start, the goal has been to assemble all dimensions of sustainability into a functional whole. The University’s former administration building was redesigned as an open multipurpose space where presentations and workshops relating to scientific themes are organised. The facilities support collaborative learning, creative discourse and co-working. The events and facilities are open to all.

In the solutions implemented in the Think Corner building, sustainability is manifested, for example, in the following aspects:

  • A total of 95 solar panels with a maximum production of 25 kWp were installed on the roof.
  • The service water is partly heated with the heat lost by the building’s transforming station, while district cooling is employed to keep it cool.
  • Apart from the UniSport facilities that belong to class C, the building’s energy efficiency class is B.
  • The entrance recesses are covered with PEFC certified wooden slats, while the floors in the first and second floor are made of wooden blocks.
  • All facilities are equipped with waste recycling bins and the restrooms have cloth hand towels.

Many events focused on sustainability are organised at Think Corner. In the events under the Hope for Globe theme, new research perspectives related to the environment, climate change and sustainable development were introduced, as were tools for making sustainable choices with the help of top experts.

Since 2011, Viikki Campus has held a Green Office certificate granted by the World Wildlife Foundation. A WWF auditor visits the campus every three years to ascertain that its operations fulfil the Green Office criteria.

Green Office is aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the ecological footprint of the campus. In 2019, all electricity used on Viikki will be renewable – in addition to the self-produced solar energy, the campus is purchasing green hydroelectricity.

Practical measures taken include experiments with utilising lost heat, improved waste sorting, recharging points for electric cars, flower meadows and campus farming, shared equipment and facility use, as well as environmental events. In 2018 all parking spaces on Viikki Campus were made subject to a fee.

The University of Helsinki has decided to use shared funds to compensate for the emissions generated by its employees’ air travel in 2018. The University will pay as compensation a sum that is equivalent to approximately one per cent of its airline ticket purchases. In 2018 the total amount of kilometres flown with tickets purchased from CWT, the University’s partner travel agency, was 52.3 million, which generated 4,503 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

These air travel emissions have been compensated by supporting the Simba Hills Improved Cookstoves project carried out in Kenya, aimed at purchasing efficient stoves for Kenyan families. The new stoves will halve the consumption of firewood, leaving more time for other household work as well as childcare and education instead of gathering wood.

Among the University’s pledges is the increased use of self-produced energy. In 2017, the solar panels at the Viikki Information Centre and the City Centre Campus, as well as the wood chips power station at the Lammi Biological Station altogether produced 1,900 MWh of energy, the equivalent of about one per cent of the energy consumed by the University’s properties. In 2018, the solar energy plant on the Viikki Campus will be expanded to the roofs of the buildings along Latokartanonkaari and Koetilantie, increasing the production of solar energy.

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