Sustainable campuses

The University of Oulu aims to implement its activities efficiently and environmentally friendly in accordance with the principles of sustainable development. Campus development and everyday activities take into account energy efficiency, encouragement of environmentally friendly commuting, and sorting and recycling.

Sustainable and responsible campus life

In the University of Oulu's action plan regarding sustainable and responsible campus life, we focus on measures aimed at reducing our carbon footprint. We have identified key areas for doing so: properties, travel, procurement and restaurant services.

Sustainable development is a goal in all operations of the University of Oulu. Sustainable development refers to ecologically, socially, culturally and economically sustainable development. Acting responsibly and taking responsibility are part of our values. We see responsibility as a comprehensive concept that involves observing the wide-ranging impact of higher education institutions in society. We produce expertise openly and extensively, and by doing so we strengthen our handprint in the development of society.

Our sustainability and responsibility work is guided by the United Nations (UN) Agenda 2030 and the Ministry of Education and Culture's Sustainable Development Guidelines. The University of Oulu is committed to the theses of Sustainable Development and Responsibility by the Universities Finland (UNIFI). The action plan regarding sustainable and responsible campus life, developed together with the Oulu University of Applied Sciences, was published in spring 2021, after which the measures have been monitored and refined in university-specific manner.

In our Action Plan, we are particularly committed to the following UN Sustainable Development Goals:

7 Affordable and Clean Energy
9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
12 Responsible Consumption and Production
13 Climate Action
17 Partnerships for the Goals

Objectives of sustainable campus life

Our campuses offer a sustainable and inspiring environment for working and studying.

Our goal is to reduce our carbon footprint by 50% by 2025, compared to 2019. We commit to implementing various emission reduction measures, and we will monitor the development of our carbon footprint annually. The University of Oulu's carbon footprint working group has been working on the calculation since November 1, 2020. Check out the Carbon Footprint Calculation Project at the University of Oulu and its results.

The most important aspects of reducing our carbon footprint have been identified as properties, travel, procurement and restaurant services.

Monitoring and reporting

Sustainable development is a goal in all of the operations at the University of Oulu. By implementing the action plan for a sustainable and responsible campus, we want to bear our environmental responsibility in the everyday activities of campuses. The diversity and well-being of the environment is the basis for other sustainability activities.

We are monitoring the development of the carbon footprint in total and different areas (properties, travel, procurement and restaurant services). We will monitor the progress of the measures on an annual basis and, if necessary, we will specify our objectives and measures. We will look for new openings to achieve our goals during the action plan period. The Sustainable Campus Life Survey will serve as a tool for engagement and influence and as a part of the monitoring.

Our carbon footprint at 2019

19072 t CO2e

Our carbon footprint at 2023

12665 t CO2e

We have made successful sustainability choices and taken things forward. However, after the pandemic years, the university’s carbon footprint has started to increase. There is still work to be done. In 2023, emissions due to the purchased research and laboratory equipment had the biggest impact on the university's carbon footprint (38%), followed by the impact of business travel (14%) and other procurements (12%). On the other hand, it is through the university's research activities, and international collaboration that require travel that we are responding to and providing solutions to global sustainability challenges. The positive climate impacts, carbon handprint and potential emission reductions of the university's research projects have been assessed in a master’s thesis (in Finnish) completed in 2021 as part of the work of the Carbon Footprint Working Group. The study estimated the value of the research carbon handprint at up to 6.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (Kemppainen 2021).

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