Aalto University hands over chairmanship of Nordic Sustainable Campus Network to KTH

On KTH campus. Image: Meri Löyttyniemi / Aalto University

Aalto University will hand over the chairmanship of the Nordic Sustainable Campus Network (NSCN) to KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. The aim of NSCN is to develop the overall sustainability of Nordic higher education institutions, with particular emphasis on sustainable campus and teaching activities, as well as to enhance their societal impact. 

‘After establishing and leading the Nordic Sustainable Campus Network since 2011, we are pleased to now hand over the chairmanship to the KTH Royal Institute of Technology’, says Aalto University’s Senior Advisor Meri Löyttyniemi, who has founded and steered NSCN since its establishment.

‘We will continue to be actively involved in NSCN, as shaping a sustainable future is at the core of Aalto University’s new strategy. In addition, we will continue our sustainability efforts in the wider Nordic Association of University Administrators NUAS, which NSCN is a part of, and the wider global community’. 

With over 45 member organizations, the Nordic Sustainable Campus Network helps to advance sustainability through sharing of best practices as well as developing joint initiatives. For example, according to Löyttyniemi, an important achievement is the development of a course on sustainable cities, which brings together 25-30 students and faculty annually to tackle sustainability issues concerning urban planning. 

‘NSCN is an excellent network for knowledge exchange and synergy effects among Nordic universities who have similar conditions and objectives within sustainability. Our ambition is to raise the climate issue high on the agenda and focus on how we can work towards UN’s Sustainable Development Goals’, says Sustainability Manager at KTH and new chair of NSCN Kristina von Oelreich.

‘We also see potential in influencing the larger NUAS network to integrate sustainability issues. Another question is how Covid-19 affects the university’s sustainability work’. 

Read more
NUAS – The Nordic Association of University Administrators

Additional information
Kristina Von Oelreich, Sustainability Manager at KTH and new chair of NSCN, tel. +468 790 88 31, krvo@kth.se 

Meri Löyttyniemi, Senior Advisor for Sustainability, Aalto University, tel. +358 50 313 7549, meri.loyttyniemi@aalto.fi

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Introducing NSCN core group: Rodrigo Lozano from University of Gävle, Sweden

Rodrigo Lozano, Professor of Organisational Sustainability at the University of Gävle, Sweden

Hello everyone,

I am Rodrigo Lozano. I am Professor of Organisational Sustainability at the University of Gävle, Sweden. I have been working with Education for Sustainable Development since 2002, when I did my master thesis on the topic at Lund University. Since then I have been researching and working with universities worldwide on the topic through sustainability assessment (e.g. through the Graphical Assessment of Sustainable Universities (GASU) tool, and the Sustainability Tool for Assessing UNiversities Curricula (STAUNCH® tool), declarations and charters, and lately on sustainability competences and pedagogical approaches.

At the University of Gävle, we have been working with sustainability for more than 20 years. My colleague Kaisu Sammalisto has been a driving force by improving campus operations, helping to obtain the ISO 14001 certification, and developing an educate the educators course, amongst other activities. Since I arrived at the university a bit more than three years ago, we have developed a sustainability report, worked with Higher Education Institution’s sustainability impacts with my colleagues at the Vienna University of Economics and Business, and been leading two projects on sustainability competences and pedagogical approaches (one on a European survey and the other on case studies with 15 universities worldwide, which will result in an edited book this year).

As part of NSCN, I would like to exchange experiences on how to better embed sustainability (in its four dimensions: economic, environmental, social, and time) in the higher education system (operations, management, governance, education, research, collaboration, campus experiences, and assessment and reporting) in the Nordic countries, as well as from other parts of the world.

If you are interested in finding more on what we are doing on HESD, feel free do email me at Rodrigo.lozano@hig.se.

Rodrigo in a tuxedo?
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Introducing NSCN core group: Caroline Aggestam Pontoppidan from Copenhagen Business School, Denmark

Caroline Aggestam Pontoppidan from Copenhagen Business School, Denmark

Caroline Aggestam Pontoppidan holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration from Copenhagen Business School (Department of accounting and auditing, 2005) and is currently Academic Director of PRME (Principles of Responsible Management Education) at the Copenhagen Business School (Denmark) as well as an Associate Professor at the Department of Accounting & Auditing. Her research pertaining to responsible management education (RME) takes an interest in questions regarding the governance and Institutionalisation of RME as well as understanding and measuring the effect of RME in different institutional contexts. In addition, she engages in research on the digitalization of RME in HEI embracing both systems and institutional perspectives.

More about CBS Sustainability

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Introducing NSCN core group: Sanchi Maheshwari from Hanken, Finland

Image by: GIBS Business School and UN PRME

Hello Everyone!

As we grapple through strange and uncertain times, the work continues digitally and perhaps will be changed forever. But one thing that has become certain is that we all need to take sustainability more seriously. Well, this can be another blogpost in itself (or many 😉), so for now I will introduce myself and my organisation.

My name is Sanchi Maheshwari and I work at Hanken School of Economics (Finland) as a Social Responsibility Coordinator. I originally hail from India. Previously, I was working as a lawyer in India and as a sustainability analyst in the Netherlands.

However, as destiny would have it, I landed in Finland in 2015 to be with my partner and have been here ever since. As I was grappling with learning Finnish, I ended up at a Swedish speaking business school. This made my life rather easy! 😉 But now, I have been working at Hanken since 2016 January and am still struggling to learn Finnish and Swedish. 😀

As part of my work at Hanken, I am coordinating Hanken’s activities and initiatives related to sustainability and social responsibility. I also recently joined the Nordic Sustainability Campus Network as a core member from Finland. I am excited and honoured to be working closely with my Nordic counterparts.

Hanken has been part of United Nations Principles for Responsible Management Education (UNPRME) since 2008 (first business school in Finland to become a signatory). At the same time, Hanken also became part of WWF’s Green Office Initiative. These two things have been a continuous institutional push in integrating sustainability and social responsibility into school’s strategy, as it’s core value and across all its aspects of operations. Hanken also recently committed to be carbon neutral by 2030.  If you are interested in learning more about Hanken’s Sustainability, feel free to browse through Hanken’s last Sustainability Report 2016-18!

As part of my work, I work closely with faculty, researchers, administration and students to facilitate better integration of sustainability at Hanken. I also liaise with external stakeholders, e.g. other universities and business schools, companies, NGOs and other kinds of organisations.

Hanken also collaborates on projects with other schools, e.g. SDG digital library, out of which our SDG MOOC was born. The first iteration of the MOOC ‘Organising for the Sustainable Development Goals’ was offered on social learning platform Future Learn from mid-February to 1st week of April. More than 2000 people signed up for the course! The second iteration will be offered in autumn 2020.

Through my involvement with NSCN, I wish to learn and exchange knowledge on sustainability implementation on Nordic level. Schools and universities in the Nordic countries are quite similar and operate with similar values, and so I believe there is a lot we can learn from each other and try to scale it up at Nordic level.

In case you are interested in chatting with me or interested to know about anything happening at Hanken within sustainability, please feel free to drop me a line at sanchi.maheshwari@hanken.fi or my linkedIn.

Stay safe, healthy and sane!



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Climate University goes Aalto: Innovations and Creativity in Climate Education 2-3 March 2020

Welcome to Climate University seminar day 1.

Innovations and Creativity in Climate Education seminar was held in Otaniemi, Espoo, Finland 2.-3.3.2020 as a part of the Climate University project. Climate University is a collaborative project of eleven Finnish universities developing open access online courses to foster climate change and sustainability education in universities. The seminar attracted huge interest with 100+ participants gathering to Aalto University´s main building Dipoli.

“Social intrapreneurs” at Aalto University.

During day one, the theme of innovations and creativity was discussed through sustainability & climate-related showcases from Aalto University. For instance, Aalto School of ARTS has already incorporated sustainability issues thoroughly. SDG labels are being introduced to Aalto´s upcoming 2020-22 courses and appr. 10% of ~3000 courses include climate-related content, SDG#13. 

The concept of social intrapreneurship – acting entrepreneurially inside a large organization to achieve social or environmental aims – was easily recognized by many participants.

Participants analyzing their own carbon footprint.

Monday morning at Aalto University included several hands-on workshops. Participants got a safe space to discuss their anxieties related to climate change, or they learned how awareness-based approach can help in empowering us to transform the higher education, or they analyzed the significance of personal climate actions using D-mat’s 1.5 degree puzzle.

Filming climate challenges.

Monday breaks were utilised for Climate Challenges filming as a continuum to the campaign started at Metropolia workshop last fall. We filmed all together 13 challenges for various actors including Aalto Student Union AYY, Aalto University and Aalto Campus and Real Estate. Follow the climate challenge campaign on Twitter or YouTube.

Playing sustainability board games.

During day two participant had the chance to explore climate actions in Otaniemi high school, play sustainability board games and participate in piloting and developing Climate University course materials. Development concentrated on the following courses:

  • Sustainable.now – a Bachelor-level course for sustainable development and climate challenges and solutions
  • Solutions.now – a Master level project course for solving climate and sustainability challenges of companies and organisations
  • SystemsChange.now – a Master-level course on using systems thinking and multidisciplinary approaches to contribute in societal change
  • Climate.now for high schools
A surprise performance by Dominante quartet during dinner.

The next steps for the Climate University project community include finalising course materials, piloting courses, and most importantly promoting active integration of courses to current curricula, including lifelong learning for all stakeholders and executive education as well. Hopefully this will proceed as smoothly as the Dominante quartet at Fat Lizard restaurant.

Enjoying vegan breakfast.

The conference organising team was proud about serving fully vegan food at the conference. Besides, food waste was successfully avoided during the conference by informing Aalto students of leftovers through a student held telegram group. 

Participants summary of what they will start doing, stop doing, continue doing and change after the seminar.

To conclude, hopefully the current corona epidemic will improve our behavior and actions drastically to fight the climate crisis as efficiently. Sincere thanks for all participants and colleagues involved in this joint effort!

Speeches from Dipoli auditorium and all seminar materials are available at https://www.aalto.fi/en/events/innovations-and-creativity-in-climate-education

Check out the available Climate University online courses: climate.now, circular.now, Leadership for Sustainable Change.

Read more about the seminar in a more extensive blog post.

Text: Emma Sairanen, Sanna-Liisa Sihto-Nissilä & Meri Löyttyniemi, Aalto University

Photos: Cvijeta Miljak

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ISCN inviting student proposals to 2020 conference

Are you a student or do you know students, who would you be interested in forming part of ISCN 2020’s student-led sessions?

The International Sustainable Campus Network will be hosting its 14th international conference, ISCN 2020: Accelerating Climate Action and Sustainability in Education, in Switzerland on 24-26 June 2020. Since sustainability in education is one of the key topics of the conference, it is truly important to have a strong student representation. Therefore, university students are invite to develop their own sessions for the ISCN Conference. Especially students who have proven records of engagement in sustainability associations are encouraged to apply.

It would be fantastic to have students from NSCN universities to submit their idea for a student-led session!

More information on how students can get involved can be found on the picture below and on the following website: 

Post by:

Dario Siegen, Student Coordinator for ISCN Conference 2020

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Turn up the freezer and turn down the energy

Energy savings of 20-22%, longer service life and fewer expenses on new freezers in the laboratory budget – without negative impacts on research. Just by increasing the freezer temperature by 10 degrees. At the University of Copenhagen some institutes have started to raise the temperature of their Ultra-Low-Temperature Freezers.

Particularly sensitive biochemical samples are stored in Ultra-low temperature freezers (ULT freezers) at minus 80 degrees Celsius, and that’s it! Or so it was at the University of Copenhagen, but this is now changing to save energy and extend the service life of freezers. The Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences is now setting the freezer temperature at minus 70 degrees rather than minus 80 degrees – for the benefit of the environment as well as the bottom line.

Postdoc Nikolaj Lervad Hansen, Assistant professor Allison Heskes and Precision Engineer Flemming Frederiksen

The Section for Plant Biochemistry has taken the consequences and raised the freezer temperature. 

“It all started when we read in a laboratory magazine that many laboratories are raising their freezer temperatures at present,” says Niels Agerbirk, plant biochemist. 

But it was not an easy path to go from a decision in principle to practice, and that is where laboratory coordinator Tilla Engelsted and precision mechanic Flemming Frederiksen played a key role:

“We could find no evidence supporting either minus 70 or minus 80 over the other,” says Tilla Engelsted. 

Minus 80 degrees is an informal scientific standard for the temperature for storing biochemical samples. The standard has arisen because it is possible to produce freezers with gradually lower temperatures. This is how the temperature landed at minus 80 degrees – or in some cases minus 86 degrees. 

“Since there is no scientific reason to choose minus 80 over minus 70 degrees, we might as well choose the energy and climate-friendly option,” says Tilla Engelsted.

Assistant professor Allison Heskes working with one of UCPH’s many ULT freezers

Through tests, the Green Campus departement has documented energy savings of 20-22% by setting freezers at minus 70 rather than minus 80 degrees. But that’s not the only upside. At minus 70 degrees, less energy is needed to cool the freezer rooms, with substantially less pressure on the compressors. As a result, the expensive freezers will last longer.

“The motivation for the change was driven by climate considerations – and long-term financial considerations, because the freezers last longer,” says Tilla Engelsted. 

The faculty footing the energy bill also obtains substantial savings – in terms of carbon emissions and energy costs. When new freezers are purchased, emphasis is now placed on ensuring that they perform well at minus 70 degrees.

Blog post by:

Tomas Refslund Poulsen

Head of Energy & Sustainability, University of Copenhagen

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AaltoSDG mobile application available

AaltoSDG mobile application is available for download in App Store and Google Play store.

Monthly themes, weekly actions, sustainable future! AaltoSDG mobile application is now available for download.

AaltoSDG is here to inspire everyone interested to switch towards a more sustainable way of living and working. The application was developed and is being further refined by Aalto University and Geniem. You can download the app already today and start participating in challenges. Have fun!

Download AaltoSDG from:
App Store
Google Play

More information at aalto.fi

Feedback and comments: aaltosdg(a)aalto.fi

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The University of Oslo’s climate march towards 2030

Blog by: Øystein Liverød, Environmental director, University of Oslo

As we all know, our greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut in half within 2030. This, obviously, gives us a period of ten years to, first, decide that we actually are aiming for this goal and implement it into the overall strategy of our university. Second, we need to know what our climate footprint is in order to know how much we need to reduce. Lastly, we need to organize a group with enough resources and a mandate to work on reducing our climate footprint. You could call it a sustainability team, and their job is to handle the myriad of questions and problems that are related to reducing our climate footprint. This setup seems like the most natural thing in the world for an engineer but there are a lot of barriers to overcome within the university sphere in order to make this work. In the following paragraphs I will discuss what we are planning at the University of Oslo (UiO), what we have done so far and what remains to be done.

University of Oslo main building. Photo by OiU/Jarli&Jordan

My colleague Christian, wrote a very good piece about the carbon footprint and the Paris agreement last year (https://nordicsustainablecampusnetwork.wordpress.com/2018/09/28/carbon-footprint-of-university-operations-and-the-paris-agreement/). Our work has been heavily influenced by NTNU’s work and I encourage interested readers to dive into this piece on order to know the fundamentals of this topic.

At the end of 2018 our rector agreed to calculate UiO’s carbon footprint and in the beginning of 2019 a group, consisting of representatives from different administrative departments, began calculating in close collaboration with a consultancy firm. The group worked closely with the consultancy firm over a course of two months and the key takeaway was that the strength of the group was that it consisted of people who quickly could collect the data needed for the calculations (flight traffic, energy consumption, financial records, fuels etc.). Locating the right data when you’re not familiar with where to look in a large organization can be a pain in the ass. UiO’s carbon footprint can be found at https://uio.no/klimaregnskap (only in Norwegian at the moment). The carbon footprint was then presented at an internal meeting where the rector and the top management participated, among students and employees. We also included the group who had lead a petition with the goal of reducing air travels and they delivered their signatories to the rector. Also, one of Norway’s top climate researchers (Bjørn Samset at CICERO) held a presentation and the rector, a student representative and other employees participated in a panel discussion about what to do with our knowledge about our carbon footprint. This gave the presentation of our very first(!) carbon footprint a nice frame and sparked an overall discussion at the university about what we should do with our knew knowledge.

After the summer vacation we continued the work and are now working on creating a sustainability team who can work on all subjects related to reducing our carbon footprint. Hopefully we’ll also decide on an ambitious climate goal before Christmas. Both actions are slow and difficult processes that needs to be discussed by the administration, the faculties, the University board and the top management before reaching a conclusion. We have an exciting journey in front of us and hopefully many universities are in the process of doing the same. We are happy to share our experiences and to learn from others. If this sounds intriguing, don’t hesitate to contact me.

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Decision tree – a helpful tool when deciding whether to fly or not.

Blog by Sigurlaug I. Lövdahl, University of Iceland

The decision tree – Should I fly?

The decision tree is a tool intended to help people determine, whether they should fly to a meeting, event, or whatever it is they are planning to take part in.    

The first question posed is, whether it would be possible to take part in the event online. If so, this is a positive result for the environment.

If the answer is no, the issue becomes more complicated and we ask ourselves whether it is important for us to take part in the event. If the answer is no then we simply abandon the plan.

If the answer is yes, the next step is to ask, whether we could take a train or a bus for at least a part of the journey (remembering that from Iceland, we always need to fly the first leg). At this stage we could also consider whether it would be possible to use the trip for another purpose as well.

If the answer is yes, perhaps we can take one flight instead of two and therefore reduce our carbon emissions. We might also think about whether we should offset our carbon emissions.

If the answer is no, then we should still think about the possibility of offsetting carbon emissions.

After using the tree, we should have received the encouragement we need, to think carefully before taking our next flight.

If this is really going to function, then some fundamental questions need to be answered like: who should pay for carbon offsetting, the employee or the uni? And what needs to be changed in the promotion system of the uni that makes it more attractive to stay at home instead of flying?

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