Sustainable development at the Viikki Teacher Training School
In recognition of our long-standing work in sustainable development, our school has received the prestigious sustainable development certificate of the OKKA Foundation, a foundation for teaching, education and personal development supporting the educational sector. We first received the sustainable development certificate in summer 2011, but received the OKKA Foundation’s environment certificate even before that, in 2008. Our school also participates in the Green Flag eco-school programme and in the Green Office programme as part of the Viikki Campus.
We promote sustainable development especially through the following three programmes:
1) THE OKKA FOUNDATION’S SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT CERTIFICATE includes five themes, of which some are related to ecological and some to social and cultural sustainable development. In our first certification in 2011, our five themes were 1) water and energy, 2) waste, 3) the prevention of bullying and exclusion, 4) student welfare and other services supporting learning, and 5) the school’s own traditions and collaboration. The certification was renewed in 2014 and 2017.
For more information about the OKKA Foundation’s certificate and its criteria, please visit http://www.koulujaymparisto.fi/sivu.php?id=1820.
2) THE GREEN FLAG is an international sustainable development programme for kindergartens, schools and educational institutions coordinated by the Foundation for Environmental Education in Finland. The programme is part of the international Eco-Schools programme and ties in excellently with the OKKA Foundation’s certification. There are almost 50,000 Eco-Schools worldwide: in almost all European countries, but also in Asia, Africa, the United States and Australia.
Participation is crucial in the Green Flag: the pupil and student councils of our school are the driving forces behind our operations, aided by our staff’s sustainable development team. The flag theme changes every 18 months, with pupils and students deciding the new theme by vote. Our school has thus far carried out the following themes: water (2010), energy (2011), school grounds (2012), climate change (2013–2014) and socially sustainable development (2014–2015). At the moment, our themes are waste and energy (electricity), which we reported on in 2017. In 2016–2017, our special theme was the forest.
For more information about the Green Flag, please visit http://www.ecoschools.global/.
3) GREEN OFFICE is WWF’s environmental system for offices, but it also suits the school world with its computers, lamps and papers. The Viikki Campus of the University of Helsinki, and the Viikki Teacher Training School as part of it, has the Green Office label: the first audit was carried out in spring 2012, the second in autumn 2017.
The Viikki Campus will soon also house one of Finland’s largest solar plants, whose nominal output will be 1.2 megawatts. Some of the solar cells will be installed on our school’s roof in spring 2018. This will guarantee us a renewable, zero-emission energy supply.
For more information about Green Office, please visit https://wwf.fi/en/green-office/.
Our sustainable development work is not limited to these three programmes. Instead, it is part of our everyday life from recycling to teaching – sustainable development is accounted for in every subject. One example is the eco-actions of ninth-graders: the pupils come up with an eco-action that benefits the Earth and that they can carry out themselves. The pupils commit to their idea for an agreed period of time, for example, one week. These eco-actions are simple things, such as reducing water consumption when showering, changing one’s dietary habits or cycling more frequently.