Experiences on judging university and college´ sustainability leaders

Greetings from UK & Ireland Green Gown Awards 2016 at King´s College London

Text and pictures: Meri Löyttyniemi

Green Gown – What it is all about?

The Green Gown Awards recognize the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges across the world. The Awards are organized in the UK by EAUC since 2004. EAUC stands for Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges, uniting UK´s sustainability staff and activities. Nowadays the competition has expanded to Australasia, French-speaking countries and GUPES, the global UN network for universities. All these regions are brought together in the International Green Gown Awards.

About the competition

It was the second time I had the honour to act as a judge in the Green Gown Awards. The Awards have a number of categories, 4 for individuals and 14 for organisations. Each judge focuses typically in one category so the workload is managable. For individuals, the categories include the following: Sustainability Champion, Sustainability Professional, Student Research and Development and a Leadership Award. For organizations, the 14 different categories, like in the Oscars, look into improvement in learning and development, R&D and services & campus.

wp_20160922_15_22_42_proGreen Gown Award Manager Helen Exton (left), Prof. Wyn Morgan, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Learning & Teaching from University of Sheffield and jury member Meri Löyttyniemi, NSCN chair and Aalto University sustainability manager.

EAUC organizes the Awards professionally. Jury members are invited from the hosting country but also international judges and different stakeholders are well presented with over 90 judges taking part. The applications are sent by the institutions and evaluated at the 1st stage by a small member jury in June to select the Finalists. Then, further jury members step in, and they can delve into a restricted amount of excellent candidates in September once finalists have completed a more detailed application. Like in 2015, the stage 2 of the judging was organized at King´s College London, September 2016. Compact and clear materials about the applicants were provided to jury members in advance and they were discussed in the meeting in London. As sustainability needs to be put in practice, also virtual participation by skype was possible. The judging day also included an opening seminar hosted by the EAUC, providing useful insights into current topics within sustainability and a presentation from Mike Barry, Director of Sustainability at Marks & Spencer providing an insight into how industry and education have to work together to achieve real sustainable goals.

A crucial ethos of the Awards are to share and learn from the good practice taking place in the sector and all Finalists prepare a short video and case study and these are publically available at the Sustainability Exchange at sustainabilityexchange.ac.uk/2016x. This includes winners from the UK and Ireland as well as the Australasian, French speaking and GUPES Awards and there are over 500 resources to share from all over the world.

wp_20160922_12_56_28_pro                      EAUC has succeeded in attracting prominent companies to sponsor and contribute to the competition.

Leadership Award category – and how was the winner chosen

In this category, there were four Finalists in the second stage. They all were true champions in their respective organisations so the selection was not easy. Advancing sustainability agenda within higher education has been the red thread throughout their career. The jury analysed their work by dividing the credits into impact and benefits, leadership and engagement and their significance as an individual and for the sector.

In the Leadership Award category, the Green Gown Award 2016 was awarded to Professor and Assistant Vice Chancellor Jim Longhurst from University of the West of England, Bristol (UWE). His achievements within the higher education has been extraordinary and he has succeeded in integrating sustainable development within all the university operations. The competition in this category was tight but the jury´s decision was also unanimous. The winners of all categories were announced on 10 Nov 2016 at a gala Awards Ceremony, this year organized in Leicester, with over 390 guests. More about the Awards Ceremony and all the winners: http://www.greengownawards.org/2016-winners1

wp_20160922_15_47_07_proKing´s College London provided excellent premises for the Green Gown Award judging at stage 2.

Reflections – launching Green Gowns to Nordic countries?

As we all know, sustainability needs inspiring visions, courageous institutions and skilled individuals to turn the visions into action. It´s utterly important to acknowledge the work and celebrate the transformative actions that are so urgently needed. As the chair and founder of Nordic Sustainable Campus Network, I have cherished the thought of launching the Green Gown Awards into Nordic countries. Thus we could celebrate Nordic success stories and furthermore reach international visibility. There are a few issues to be solved in order to make it happen, not least the resources for running the competition. Besides our own home institutions, Nordic Council of Ministers has been our keen support so far. It would be worthwhile to explore these possibilities together?

Meri Löyttyniemi, people.aalto.fi/index.html#meri_loyttyniemi

  • Chair of NUAS Sustainability, Nordic Sustainable Campus Network
  • Aalto University sustainability manager, on a sabbatical and working currently as senior advisor for Miltton Brussels

Green Gown Awards: www.greengownawards.org

green-gown-generic-logo                          nuas_logo                         nscn_logo

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Green efforts save DKK 35 million a year at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Text: Theresa Schaltz

Over the last ten years, the effort to save energy at the University of Copenhagen has paid off, producing both green results and large economic gains. Recent data shows that the university has reduced its CO2 emissions by 48 % in ten years, while energy consumption has been reduced by 32 %.

These results are fueled by Denmark’s, and in particular Copenhagen’s, green transformation to renewable energy sources. Power stations using biomass and wind turbines have contributed to a significant part of the CO2 reduction but the university’s own efforts to use energy more efficiently have also had a significant impact.

“We’re seeing the results of many people’s efforts – from individual employees who remember to close the fume cupboard, to technicians and project managers who make sure that the buildings are becoming more energy-efficient,” says Tomas Refslund Poulsen, Green Campus team leader at the University of Copenhagen.

In this short video you can see an example of the University of Copenhagen’s energy and climate efforts which are given high priority when building new facilities.

Improved ventilation, LED lights, efficient building management and distant cooling are just some of the specific initiatives that contribute to the results.

With the results so far, the university is on its way towards the two most important objectives in the sustainability strategy ‘Green Campus 2020’. The aim is to reduce CO2 emissions by 65 % in 2020 and energy consumption by 50 %, both calculated per full-time equivalent (employee/student). The results at the university contribute to a more sustainable development, while the more efficient use of energy certainly also benefits the organisation’s bottom line. With the efforts to improve energy efficiency, the University of Copenhagen today spends around DKK 35 million less on energy per year. The approximately DKK 110 million which has so far been invested in energy projects are well spent and mean more funds for research and education.

In the years leading up to 2020, the university will maintain a strong focus on energy efficiency, just as work on the other objectives in Green Campus 2020 will continue.

Recycling waste

However, there is also room for improvements in the university’s green effort. Recycling of waste, for example, is an area where more can be done.  The target is that 50 % of the university’s waste is reused. Today, less than 30% of waste is recycled which is far from enough and as such this represents a task to be dealt with.

“In some areas at the University of Copenhagen, employees and students have well-functioning options to sort waste, but there are also several areas where these options are not available. This is something we must work on in the coming years if we are to reach the target,” Tomas Refslund Poulsen says.

The strategy guiding the work on sustainability is called ‘Green Campus 2020’. It was adopted in 2014 and comprises a number of ambitious targets for reducing the environmental impact of the university’s activities up towards 2020. In the sustainability report ‘Green Results’ (in Danish), an account of the University of Copenhagen sustainability for 2015 is presented and according to the report, the University of Copenhagen has:

  • Reduced CO2 emissions by 48% (per full-time equivalent) from 2006-2015
  • Reduced energy consumption by 32% (per full-time equivalent) in the same period
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Press release 14.10 2016: Nordic City Challenge developing Lindholmen area in Gothenburg

Pictures: Janne Wikström

Winners of the multidisciplinary Nordic City Challenge (NCC) -competition 2016 were selected on October the 12th at Jonsered manor, 15 km outside Gothenburg city centre.

Jury selected student team” The Urban Huggers” as winners of the challenge. They describe their proposition “Stepping Stones” in the following way:

“The project aims to bring the Swedish archipelago into the city center and to combine it with the industrial history of Lindholmen. The idea of stepping stones is to create continuity and diversity with green stepping stones that connect the bigger green areas in Gothenburg and with residential and cultural stepping stones which bring activity and liveliness into the area. The Island stepping stone psychologically shortens the distance between the two shores while also functioning as a shelter for the cyclists and pedestrians crossing the bridge via the island. The different programming and functions of the stepping stones combines the team’s disciplinary expertise’s and addresses the issues in Lindholmen holistically. The issue of homogeneous demography is tackled by bottom-up approach that leaves space for the citizens’ own creativity and promotes the idea of alternative living environments as well as green spaces”.

Members of the winning team were:

  • Milla Kallio, Urban Geography, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Caroline Mellberg, Creative Sustainability, architecture, Aalto University, Finland
  • Benjamin Alexander Breitenbauch, Landscape architecture, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Sturla Sigurðarson, Environmental engineering, University of Iceland, Iceland
  • Linus Olausson, Sustainable Power Generation, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden

Their presentation is available at https://nordicsustainablecampusnetwork.wordpress.com/nordic-city-challenge/

Also the other team presentations will be visible on the webpage.

The organizers invited 20 students from five Nordic countries to participate in thepressrelease1-2 multidisciplinary course in urban planning. The participants in the Nordic City Challenge were invited by leading professors in the field and the students represented for example the following academic disciplines: urban planning, architecture, landscape architecture, geography, sustainable energy engineering, global health and social sciences.

The project brought together students, teachers, professors, practitioners and leading experts from Nordic countries to work on a real-life planning case. The case this year was Lindholmen area in Gothenburg, a residential, business and campus area in Gothenburg. Lindholmen is situated by the Göta

älv, 1,5 km from the central railway station in Gothenburg. The intensive days were held October 9-12, 2016 in facilities by the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology, and in Jonsered manor, a facility administered by the University of Gothenburg.

The course highlighted the social-ecological approach of urban planning. During the course, the student teams created a plan to develop Lindholmen, and the Älvstaden concept, The River city project run by the City of Gothenburg. In the proposals, the students were reflecting if it is possible to build a dense city district with a human scale environment. The program included input from The Gothenburg City Planning Office as well as representatives from both local universities.

The group work was facilitated by experienced researchers with different orientations around urban planning. The course work also included a written pre-assignment before the intensive course as well as a written report after the course on the learning experiences and case outcomes. On the final day the student teams presented their solutions to the other teams and a jury. Jury evaluated the results and gave feedback.

Nordic City Challenge academic tutors:pressrelease2-2

  • Salla Jokela, post doc-researcher, Kaupunkiakatemia, Helsingin yliopisto Salla Jokela, researcher, Urban Academy, University of Helsinki
  • Meeri Karvinen, researcher, Nordic Sustainable Campus Network, Aalto University
  • Katri-Liisa Pulkkinen, researcher, Land Use Planning and Urban Studies Group, Aalto university
  • Rawaf al Rawaf, SERSD Stockholm Resilience Centre

Nordic City Challenge jury members:

  • Emma Anderberg, Gothenburg city planning office
  • Jonas Bäckström, Gothenburg city planning office
  • Joaquim Tarrasó, architect, senior lecturer in urban design, Chalmers Univ. of Technology
  • Eva Tenow, planning architect, Gothenburg city planning office

The project is administrated by Hanaholmen cooperation centre for Sweden and Finland. Organizers included also Urban Academy, University of Helsinki, Aalto University and Nordic Sustainable Campus Network (NSCN). The course is financially covered by Nordplus Horizontal and the project continues 2017 and 2018. The Nordic City Challenge 2017 is held in the newly renovated Hanaholmen facilities in Espoo, Finland.

Warm thanks for collaborators and congratulations for the successful teams!

About Nordic Case Competition 2016: https://nordicsustainablecampusnetwork.wordpress.com/course-details-2016/

Contact persons:

  • Jonna Similä, programme coordinator, , jonna.simila@hanaholmen.fi, +358 40 6495454
  • Janne Wikström, project coordinator, HanaAcademy, Hanaholmen Cooperation cente for Sweden and Finland, janne.wikstom@hanaholmen.fi, +358 40 6207626
  • Meeri Karvinen, researcher, coordinator of the NSCN, Aalto University, meeri.karvinen@aalto.fi, +358 50 407 1884, aalto.fi/nscn
  • Katri-Liisa Pulkkinen, researcher, Land Use Planning and Urban Studies Group, Aalto university School of Engineering
  • Salla Jokela, post doc-researcher, Urban Academy salla.jokela@helsinki.fi,+358 50 448 9190, http://www.urbanacademy.fi

 

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Share your experiences on sustainability in NSCN blog!

There are many readers interested in case examples and peer experiences on sustainability in higher education! We invite You to contribute to the NSCN Blog!

Who is able to contribute and what?

You are able to contribute if you have something to do with Nordic universities’ sustainability. Every contribution is welcomed – students, staff members, professors, researchers or even stakeholders influencing universities’ sustainability. If you are uncertain about your eligibility, NSCN coordinator is happy to answer your questions!

Write a short story on your university’s present activities, best practices, courses, innovations, events or suggestions related to sustainable development. If you have a picture or a video concerning the activity, please attach it, too!

How and when to proceed?

If you feel you have  experiences or activities you want to share, write your story shortly and send it to NSCN coordinator meeri.karvinen@aalto.fi by 30.9.2016. The core group of NSCN will then choose the most appropriate texts, which will be published in the NSCN webpages in the following months.

Welcome to the interactive NSCN Blog!

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Nordic Sustainable Universities Conference 2016

Nordic Sustainable Universities Conference “From campus planning to learning outcomes” was held in 27.-28.10.2016 at the University of the Faroe Islands.

  • The report from the conference HERE!
  • Detaled plans on the renovation of Linberg’s hus by Evan Alexander HERE!

 

Original conference call below:

Save the date for this year’s Nordic conference on sustainability in universities! The University of the Faroe Islands will host the conference. which will concentrate specifically around these two themes:

  1. Creating a new campus area
  2. Student engagement and learning outcomes

The University of the Faroe Islands is in the planning phase of a new big campus building, so the focus will be specifically in learning and sharing about Nordic experiences and exploring the connections between the built environment, teaching and learning outcomes.

Join us to share how to create a new campus that is socially and ecologically sustainable! How to influence students’ learning outcomes on sustainability? What opportunities can be found when universities collaborate with municipalities and companies?

Program

Thursday 27 October 2016 (Venue: University Hall)

  • 08:30 Registration and coffee
  • 09:00 Welcome and introduction to the University of the Faroe Islands, by Sigurð í Jákupsstovu, Rector of the University of the Faroe Islands
  • 09:30 Introduction to the Sustainability Literacy Test (Sulitest), by Meeri Karvinen, Network Coordinator, Aalto University
  • 09.45 Part 1: Lessons from Nordic universities
  • 12.00 Lunch
  • 13.00 Part 2: Workshops
  • 15.30 Plenary: What is a sustainable campus?
  • 16.30 Optional city walk in Tórshavn
  • 19.00 Conference dinner

 

Friday 28 October 2017 (Venue: The Green Student-House, Tórshavn)

  • 09.00 Part 3: Introduction to the Green Student-House project by Lau Blaxekjær and Martin Mohr Olsen, University of the Faroe Islands
  • 09.30 Presentation and discussion of student projects by students
  • 11.00 New collaboration and future network of Green Student-Houses
  • 13.00 Lunch
  • 14.00 Sulitest project partners’ meeting (by invitation only)

Accommodation

We have booked some rooms from Hotel Torshavn www.hoteltorshavn.fo . the hotel is located in downtown, walking distance from the bus terminal. To and from airport taxi costs 200 DKK and a bus 90 DKK (one way).

15 rooms have been reserved, from which 10 in double rooms (if  travelling with a partner) Accommodation period with conference special prizes is 26 – 30 October 2016.

Prices (with discount) are:

  • Small single rooms – 650 DKK/night
  • Medium rooms – single use 795 DKK/night and double use 945 DKK/night.
  • Medium rooms with view of the harbour – single use 945 DKK/night and double use 1095 DKK/night.

All rooms including breakfast and free WIFI.

To book one of these rooms with discount prices, send an email to Jóhanna Rasmussen johanna@hoteltorshavn.fo with this reservation code: “314658 SULITE conference”

Registration

Link to registration here.

In the registration form, you’ll find also details on conference fee payment. The conference fee is 1.000,00 DKK, covering two full days, 2 x lunch and official conference dinner.

Further information:

  • Lau Blaxekjær, University of the Faroe Islands: laub(at)setur.fo
  • Meeri Karvinen, Aalto University: meeri.karvinen(at)aalto.fi
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Student excursion to Banglandesh

Text: Students from the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg

In less than two weeks, 15 students from the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg are traveling to the world’s eighth most populated country, Bangladesh. The trip aims to get a better understanding and knowledge of Bangladesh’s textile industry, which accounts for a large percentage of the country’s exports. The purpose is to cover issues regarding economic, social and environmental sustainability within the textile industry.

The student association Handel’s Students for Sustainability, HaSS, is arranging the trip, with support from HRHU, Handels Råd för Hållbar Utveckling. The students  travelling to Bangladesh have different backgrounds and are studying economics, business, law, logistics or environmental studies.

The group of students will arrive in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, the 8th of June. Just a few hours after landing, the first meeting will be conducted, the Embassy of Sweden in Dhaka being the host. During the following two weeks the students will visit Swedish companies’ factories and meet with production offices. A trip to the one of the most polluted areas in the world, Hazaribagh, is also on the agenda, where tanneries and families live together in a small area. In addition, meetings with several NGOs working with women’s rights and working conditions, as well as visit to a university are scheduled.

Gothenburg_BlogPost2016_BangadeshReady to go!

In order to get a holistic view and include all the academia at the School of Business, Economics and Law, the group of students have together been in contact with companies and organizations working within the textile industry. The preparations were launched early this spring, with the workshop Change Your Shoes, referring to the shoe industry in Bangladesh. Lectures and seminars regarding sustainable supply chains, as well as Bangladesh economy and politics, have been a part of the preparations. The last part was an introduction to Bengali culture, including a basic language course.

We are now packing our bags for the big adventure, which will be a trip that we will remember for the rest of our lives. Bangladesh is one of the most exposed countries in the world, suffering from poverty and climate change. Bangladesh is only a few meters above sea level and a continuing rising sea level would be disastrous for the country. We will visit the country in an interesting period; June is usually the beginning of the rainy season and this year Ramadan starts in beginning of June. We are all looking forward to gaining new knowledge to share with other students back in Sweden.

 

 

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Strengthening sustainability in Finnish Universities

Text: Saana Raatikainen, University of Tampere

The higher education institutions in Tampere have started a process that aims merging the universities into one university in the beginning of 2018. Promoting sustainability is an important value in these universities and cooperation in sustainability has already started. Nevertheless, sustainability work needs more weight and coverage. Therefore, Tampere University of Technology (TUT), Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) and the University of Tampere (UTA) decided to organize a meeting for the Finnish Sustainable Development Forum in Higher Education. On 6th April about 30 participants from Finnish higher education institutions participated in the Forum that was organized in Kampusareena (TUT), the new university building built according to the BREEAM certificate.

Implementation of sustainable development in national level

The Forum started with the presentation by Annika Lindblom who is Secretary General in the Finnish National Commission of Sustainable Development. The Commission is responsible for coordinating the implementation of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in Finland. Annika Lindblom presented the Agenda 2030 implementation process in Finland, which includes Finnish innovation called Society´s Commitment to Sustainable Development. It is a tool for the whole society – organizations, companies and individuals – to commit to promote sustainable development. Today from the universities of Tampere only TAMK has made commitment to efficiently use energy and resources and educate professionals who commit to promote sustainability.

Senior Officer Riina Vuorento from the Ministry of Education opened up the higher education steering mechanisms and the sustainability aspects they could include. The funding mechanism of the higher education in Finland will be renewed in 2017 and the new mechanism will include some indicators evaluating the societal impacts of universities. The indicators for sustainability and social responsibility were discussed in more detail in the workshop. Participants agreed that finding indicators that demonstrate societal impacts is not easy. Besides, knowing university´s energy consumption or waste amounts is not enough, but there is a need for goals and targets as well as comparing results with other universities. TAMK is testing an indicator that compares energy consumption per year against finished credits per year.

SD_Forum_2016Annika Lindblom, the Secretary General in the Finnish National Commission of Sustainable Development presentting the Agenda 2030 implementation process in Finland.

Case examples from Tampere and the Nordic countries

In the afternoon session, three cases from the universities of Tampere were presented. University Researcher Tapio Katko from the Tampere University of Technology told about capacity development in water and environment services. The research has long history in the university and in the cooperation with developing countries in Africa. Clean water and sanitation are necessities that have links to many of the seventeen sustainable development goals.

Lecturer Pirkko Pihlajamaa from TAMK presented a project that combined energy management of university buildings and education. In the special course, students looked for the most cost-effective solutions to save energy and use more renewables at the campus. During the course students learned energy management and the university got information to fulfill its obligations of the National Energy Saving Program.

Professor Anneli Milén from UTA raised up the challenges in global health and development as the world now moves from Millenium Goals to Sustainable Development Goals. Important questions concern for example health marketing and antimicrobial resistance. According to research, the good news is that countries with low economic status can still get improved social development and health.

NSCN coordinator Meeri Karvinen presented the key results from the Rio +20 project: In the Nordic HEIs, 1) sustainable development is integrated better in campus development than in teaching, 2) cooperation and student projects support promoting sustainability, 3) economic drivers from the ministry or from outside stakeholders would support universities to allocate resources to sustainability work. In Sweden legislation and management systems have resulted in systematic sustainability work in the universities.

SD_Forum_WorkshopSustainability in the Finnish higher education institutions was discussed in more detail in small groups.

All the presentations were discussed more deeply in the workshops in the afternoon. The workshops resulted in the following conclusions:

  1. Role of the Finnish Sustainable Development Forum in Higher Education needs to be strengthened which could be supported by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).
  2. Universities need relevant sustainable development and social responsibility indicators and the University Properties of Finland can support universities in the work concerning the campus development and buildings.
  3. More effort is needed to raise up the research that promotes sustainability and especially SD Goals. A joint list of key words could help universities in the follow-up.
  4. A question was raised about the universities role in integrating the asylum seekers and immigrants into the society as well as in development cooperation.

 

 

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