The route towards making campuses carbon negative will be defined by specifying the carbon balance
LUT University's goal is to make its campuses carbon negative by 2024. The carbon balance of operations will be defined incrementally, using a data platform built for more accurate data collection and data mining.
At the end of 2019, LUT University began its journey towards an ambitious goal of making its campuses in Lappeenranta and Lahti carbon negative. In the initial project phase, concrete measures towards the goal included building a data platform that combines current and future measurement data on the various activities of the Lappeenranta campus.
"The first round of determining the carbon balance of our operations has now been completed. Virtually all existing, easily accessible measurement data has now been compiled. Now we can determine what new knowledge and information we need," describes Mika Luoranen from the sustainability science research group.
The aim is to use the data to reduce all consumption and the resulting emissions. This is achieved by combining historical data with forecasts and intelligent real-time control.
"Increasing real-time intelligence is important in curbing emissions. We are currently working to ensure that all measurements from our building services can be run on the data platform. The data platform and measurement data analysis enable us to develop new algorithms for managing energy use and indoor air quality. We can then offer these to the property owner Suomen Yliopistokiinteistöt Oy (SYK) as tools for the day-to-day management of the properties," Luoranen says.
The mobility of members of the university community, students and staff, is an example of an area for which there is currently only indicative information.
"We can see exactly how many parking spaces are used, but it is only part of the whole picture. The daily movements of people have to be investigated in a variety of ways, and in order to obtain more information, we are carrying out a survey in the community," Luoranen says as an example of the project team's future measures.
A new researcher joins the team
Luoranen, Professor Risto Soukka and the Project Director, Professor Mika Horttanainen, got a new member in their project team in the early spring. Aleksandra Woszczek from Poland, who moved to Lappeenranta just before the corona crisis, has been involved in a similar campus project in Trondheim, Norway.
Woszczek completed her master's degree at Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, and got the topic for her master's thesis from a project to develop sustainability and energy efficiency on university campuses.
"It was interesting. NTNU has many campuses and at that time one completely new campus was under construction. My work was related to how both the old and new campuses were going to be made to be energy efficient," Woszczek says.
In addition to Norway, Woszczek, who is fond of the Nordic nature and landscapes, has previously worked in Finland as a seasonal worker in Ylläs. Woszczek is starting her career as a researcher and plans to stay in Lappeenranta for a long time. She hopes to be able to complete a doctoral study on sustainable development of the university.
"I worked in the private business sector for a while but have now started to actively pursue a career as a researcher. I am fascinated by a certain freedom in doing research, and the major role universities play in sustainability change."
Many of the new measures to gather information mentioned earlier by Luoranen are now Woszczek's tasks. At the same time, the first year of working in the research group will be used to prepare for doctoral studies, and to increase the prerequisite knowledge required for them.
"For my part, I help refine the measurements for the carbon balance, and I also deal a lot with economic data, which helps to understand total emissions. I hope that LUT achieves its goals, and I myself develop as a researcher so that I can complete my doctoral thesis at LUT," Woszczek concludes.