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Clean energy, water and air are life-giving resources for which LUT University seeks solutions with its expertise in technology and business by means of education and science. The university aims to achieve carbon negativity during the year 2024. The first milestone on the journey is carbon neutrality. The university is currently drafting a Climate Action Plan that will help to reach the ultimate goal.
"Our action plan aims to reduce our emissions as much as possible. As a responsible actor, our university has included measures for emissions that we cannot fully control. such as commuting between the home and the campus and meals on campus", LUT Universities' Sustainability Manager Kati Koikkalainen relates.
Together with other Finnish universities and universities of applied sciences, LUT seeks ways to compensate for emissions that cannot be fully eliminated.
Carbon negativity is LUT's strategic target, and the Climate Action Plan will be incorporated into the university's management system. The university's sustainability science team is guiding the preparation of the plan. LUT's staff and students have been engaged in the planning of the actions in workshops and an online survey.
"Reducing our carbon footprint requires ideas and investments. We have come up with solutions that encourage carpooling, riding bikes and using public transportation. We have also thought about whether the university needs to own cars and what kinds of cars they should be. We will encourage reducing business travel and making more ecological travel choices," Koikkalainen says.
LUT reduced its carbon footprint and its employees' mobility emissions
Transport modes for commuting between the home and the office were one of the main contributors to LUT's carbon footprint. They composed the largest emissions source in LUT's 2020 carbon footprint, which was 1593 tons CO2eq. The share of mobility was 51.4 per cent. The third largest emission source was food, amounting to 18.6 percent.
According to the sustainability working group, LUT's employees drive private cars more than expected. Individuals make their own choices regarding mobility and meals, but LUT aims to influence them.
The environmental impacts of food consumption may be addressed by increasing people's awareness of the positive effects of vegetarian food. Also scales that measure and show the amount of biowaste in campus restaurants in real time are a tested and functional way to reduce the carbon footprint of food.
In 2019, LUT's carbon footprint was larger: 2054 tons CO2eq. The years 2019 and 2020 are not fully comparable because of arrangements related to COVID-19. LUT's carbon footprint is calculated on the basis of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.
"In the future, we will further specify what we will include in our carbon footprint calculation and how we will report about our carbon footprint to our stakeholders," Kati Koikkalainen says.
Impacts reported and globally assessed
LUT University's most recent sustainability report explains the main points of sustainability promotion in research, education, societal interaction and other LUT activities.
The sustainability report and the impact of the university's sustainability promotion are assessed by, for instance, the highly regarded Times Higher Education (THE) panel. In the 2021 THE Impact Ranking, LUT is in the top 200 most impactful universities out of 1115. LUT is in the world's top 10 in terms of its climate action impacts (SDG 13). In Finland, LUT shares the first place with Aalto University.
Research on clean water, air and energy and sustainable business and the award-winning LUT Junior University concept are examples of LUT's impact.
"In addition, 80 per cent of our degree programmes have sustainability-related learning outcomes, and the employment rate of LUT graduates is 97 per cent. We promote sustainability in local and global networks which include businesses, municipal actors, and international research and education institutes," Kati Koikkalainen lists.