Living within the planetary boundaries at the University

We wish to operate within the carrying capacity of our planet and establish preconditions for an ecologically sustainable way of living at the University. We aim for carbon neutrality by 2030, invest in the circular economy and actively promote biodiversity on our campuses.
Towards a carbon neutral University

In its strategic plan, the University has set the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030. We are committed to responding to the global climate crisis in all our operations. We carry out extensive collaboration to achieve the climate goals on the local, national and international levels.

The roadmap for a carbon neutral University by 2030 includes steps to reach the University’s related goals. We promote ecological sustainability by reducing the carbon footprint of our operations through investment in smart energy solutions, low-emission travel and transport as well as sustainable eating habits and procurement. At the same time, we will serve as a pioneer and leader in creating new knowledge and preconditions for mitigating climate change and biodiversity loss through our research and teaching.

Sustainable buildings and facilities

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.

Contributing to practical implementation are Helsinki University Properties Ltd and University of Helsinki Property Services Ltd HY247.

Smart energy solutions

The University of Helsinki invests in the reduction of energy consumption and the use of renewable energy. By 2030 the goal is that 10% of the energy consumed will be generated on site from renewable sources. At the moment, systems that produce renewable energy are in use in 17 buildings.

Examples of investments in renewable energy:

  • The annual output of the solar power plants on Viikki Campus amounts to 4–5% of the electricity consumed by the entire campus. On clear spring and summer days, the panels can generate as much as 20% of the electricity used on the campus.
  • Geothermal heat is available in the Info Centre and the apartments of the research farm in Viikki, as well as in the student building of the Tvärminne Zoological Station.
  • The Lammi Biological Station is heated with wood pellets.
  • More solar power and geothermal heat solutions are coming, for example, to the Hyytiälä Forestry Field Station and the new buildings to be completed on Kumpula Campus in 2023.

A range of measures to reduce energy consumption are continuously being developed, and the University community is encouraged to conserve energy, for example, through energy-saving campaigns and other communications.

Think Corner – Sustainable and open to all

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 was to assemble dimensions of sustainability into a whole. At Think Corner, sustainability manifests, for example, in the 95 solar panels installed on its roof and in the utilisation of waste heat in the heating of water for public use and district cooling in keeping the building cool. In addition, waste sorting bins are available in all facilities, while toilet facilities are equipped with cloth towels.

A variety of events and workshops are organised at Think Corner. The facilities support collaborative learning, creative discourse and co-working. The events and facilities are open to all.

Promotion of the circular economy

Investment in the circular economy is made by continually developing waste sorting and recycling. The waste sorting model and sorting containers have been redesigned, and the opportunities for sorting plastic have been increased.

New solutions are being developed for the reuse and recycling of furniture. Furniture that is no longer needed is sold through the Kiertonet service.

Since 2019, the University’s IT Centre has operated a centralised recycling service for the responsible recycling and disposal of IT equipment and devices.

Laptop Lender is a laptop library available to degree students and staff where they can borrow laptops.

Sustainable travel and transport

Identifying increasingly sustainable modes of transport and travel and encouraging their use for commuting and work-related travel is an integral element of the University’s efforts for carbon neutrality and the climate. As part of these efforts, the University of Helsinki will revise its travel guidelines in 2023. The goal is to reduce emissions by reducing air travel and enabling alternative forms of travel.

In recent years, the University of Helsinki has also created better conditions for cycling. The University supports cycling as follows:

  • Staff and students are offered bike racks, shower facilities and lockers for storing cycling gear.
  • Bike racks are located close to all University buildings, while frame-locking stands have been added wherever possible on the campuses.
  • We also promote the installation of city bike stations in connection with the campuses, with a total of five stations already available on our campuses. We have participated in the Kilometrikisa bike-a-thon since 2016.
  • Car parking on University premises has been subject to a fee since 2017.
Responsible procurement

Our goal is to set an example in responsible procurement.

We take the environmental, social and economic aspects related to responsibility into consideration as broadly as possible in competitive tendering and framework agreements. All of our contract suppliers must undertake to comply with the relevant minimum responsibility criteria.

In order to develop the responsibility of our procurement processes, we utilise an emissions report to examine the carbon footprint of University purchases.

Increasingly sustainable eating habits

We aim to spur and encourage members of the University community in the transition towards increasingly sustainable eating habits. The University has decided that only vegan food will be served at the receptions and celebrations organised by the University. This addresses most religious, ethical and cultural dietary restrictions, also reducing food waste and the carbon footprint.

The lunch cafeterias operating on our premises are investing in increasingly sustainable and responsible food. You can read more about the sustainability actions taken by the cafeterias on the websites of the businesses that operate them.


Promoting biodiversity

We prevent biodiversity loss and promote biodiversity in our everyday activities.

Survey on campus ecosystem services and natural capital

As part of the sustainability and responsibility plan for the period 2022–2024, we will survey ecosystem services and natural capital on the four campuses in Helsinki. Besides surveying their biomes and ecosystem services, the goal is to draw up an implementation plan to promote and safeguard the biodiversity of the campuses in the future. The survey is to be completed in 2024.

Campus meadow experiments

In summer 2022, a meadow experiment was launched on Viikki Campus to create more diverse and pleasant green spaces on the campuses in collaboration with the University community and various local operators, to improve the biodiversity of the campus environment, to increase the recreational use of the green spaces on the campuses, and to identify new ways to utilise such spaces in research and teaching.

In the future, the goal is to expand the meadow experiment and diversify the activities.

Further information on ongoing and upcoming measures to transform the green campus spaces into meadows or other diversity hotspots as well as on how to get involved in the activities can be obtained from University Lecturer Johanna Kolehmainen (johanna.kolehmainen[at], Academy of Finland Research Fellow Anne Duplouy (anne.duplouy[at] and Campus Architect Suvi Nenonen (suvi.nenonen[at]


Campus gardening on all of our campuses

The University provides all students and staff with the opportunity to participate in campus gardening.

The inspiration for gardening originates in students, and the first grow bags were placed in the courtyards of the Snellmania and Topelia buildings at the City Centre Campus in 2013.

Nature Positive Universities

The University of Helsinki is a founding member of the international Nature Positive Universities network. The network encourages universities and members of the academic community around the world to take measures to promote and safeguard biodiversity and slow down climate change.

Three pledges under Society’s Commitment to Sustainable Development

Under the Society’s Commitment to Sustainable Development scheme, the University has pledged in 2015 to

  • Reduce the energy and water consumption of University buildings by 10%
  • Use renewable resources to produce on site by 2025 at least 5% of all energy consumed
  • Promote low-emission and healthy commuting, including the following measures:
    • Increased use of independently produced solar power
    • Construction of bicycle parks
    • Deployment of software that facilitates telecommuting