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Sustainable development

Sustainable development

The principles of sustainable development have been accepted by society as a common goal.

In 2002, the Ministries of Education of the countries in the Baltic region approved the Baltic 21E programme relating to education. The programme will include the principles of sustainable development in the teaching plans in educational institutions as well as in their day to day operations. The goals of the Baltic 21E programme are being furthered through national codes of conduct promoted by the relevant Ministries of Education. The importance of teaching is also emphasised in the UN’s Decade of Education for Sustainable Development which runs from 2005 to 2014.

In 2008, along with 124 art and design universities, the former School of Art and Design signed a declaration, the Kyoto Design Declaration, which committed them to the principles of sustainable development. The member universities of the Cumulus International Association have committed to educate future generations of designers to take responsibility for a sustainable future, and to strengthen the role of design as a builder of a people-centred creative society.

Sub-areas of sustainable development

In order to guarantee sustainable development, all four sub-areas need to be addressed:

  • ecological sustainability:
development is in harmony with natural phenomena and takes the preservation and sufficiency of natural resources into account
  • economic sustainability: production and consumption habits will change to become more efficient – more from less: the economy will grow, but at the same time, the use of natural resources and emissions will be reduced
  • social sustainability:
everyone has equal opportunities for well-being, respect of their fundamental rights and the ability to acquire the basic requirements for their lives
  • cultural sustainability: development is built on the cultural traditions and value system of each nation

Sustainable development in the School of Arts, Design and Architecture

The goal of Aalto University and its School of Arts, Design and Architecture is to promote the themes of sustainable development in accordance with the main areas of strategic emphasis for the University (sustainable use of energy and natural resources, human-oriented living environment) both in its research and teaching.

Aalto University's School of Arts, Design and Architecture, as both a school of art, design and architecture and as an educator of future product designers, has a central role in promoting environmental science and the principles of sustainable development.

The School of Arts, Design and Architecture's general principles of sustainable development

  • We regard environmental, health and safety considerations, limiting harm and observing the relevant legislation and regulations as an important and inseparable part of our operations.
  • We educate, guide and support students, all of our staff and our cooperation partners to act in a responsible manner with regard to the environment, health and safety.
  • We evaluate our operations continuously to identify and reduce environmental, health and safety risks and we commit ourselves to make continuous improvements in the following sub-areas: increasing and developing environmental awareness, development of occupational safety, thrifty use of energy and water, improving the treatment of waste and reducing the quantity produced.
  • We will develop environmental research in the field of art and design and we will make efforts to secure funding for environmental research.
  • In the transfer of technology to recipient parties, we will investigate what measures are required to protect the environment and health and to ensure safety.
  • We expect our cooperation and contractual partners to observe the appropriate parts of these principles.

Sustainable development in teaching

The degree to which sustainable development is taken note of in the design sector is variable and students arriving at the School of Arts, Design and Architertures can have very different levels of knowledge in this area. A common goal is to include life cycle philosophy, environmental aspects and the principles of sustainable development in teaching. Life cycle philosophy considers environmental aspects related to the product, raw materials, manufacture, use and final disposal. The goal is that students also master the concepts associated with environmental aspects and find the environmental information necessary for the design process.

In the autumn of 2010, Aalto University launched a joint and multi-disciplinary Master’s Degree in Creative Sustainability.

Sustainable development in production and research

As well as work placements, the School of Arts, Design and Architecture is involved in research, products, product concepts and other production for companies and other external parties. In the workshops we try to increase knowledge about environmentally friendly materials and promote their availability. The environmental impact of the School’s production can be significant when the multiplier effect is taken into account, such as the number of people involved in production and use or affected by it, as well as the example set by operations to other operators in the same field. The environmental impact of production is largely made up of the teaching of environmental values and on the other hand, the appropriate treatment of waste from our School’s premises and production facilities.

Moving to a culture of sustainable products requires the application of the life cycle philosophy. In production the aim is to minimise the negative environmental impact of designed products and services throughout their life cycles.

Waste management

The basic goal of waste management is that as small a proportion as possible of waste ends up in landfill, with no productive use made of it, and that as large a proportion as possible is exploited as efficiently as possible.

Environmental programme

The School of Arts, Design and Architecture has its own environmental programme. The environmental programme emphasises the principles of sustainable development and the application of product lifecycle philosophy in its teaching. Topics related to sustainable development are also part of the induction programme for new students.

The School has had its own environmental guide since the autumn of 2008 and you can address enquiries about it to the studio supervisor for your department.

Environmental development work in the School of Arts, Design and Architecture

The goal of the School of Arts, Design and Architecture’s environmental development work is to integrate environmental issues into all of the School’s operations; its administration, day to day operations and teaching. The role of the administration is to enable the development of environmental issues, and day to day operations aim to be organised so that they place as little burden as possible on the natural world. In the development of teaching, we try to pay more and more attention to the principles of sustainable development.

The implementation of the environmental programme in day to day operations is coordinated by the Infrastructure Services unit and people appointed in the departments and for specific degree programmes. Teaching development is coordinated by the Student Services. Departmental training managers also help students to find information about environmental issues and sustainable development.

Environmental development work in the former School of Art and Design was started in 1997 by mapping the School’s environmental aspects and drawing up an initial environmental programme. Since 1999, environmental development work as been done by adapting the ISO 14000 standard.

The School of Arts, Design and Architecture's environmental aspects

To implement the environmental programme, the organisation has to select what are the most important environmental aspects that it can monitor and which it can be expected to be able to influence. The identification of environmental aspects is a continuous process which defines the opportunities, both positive and negative, for the organisation to have an impact on the environment.

In 1999, the former School of Art and Design selected what it saw as the most significant environmental aspects. In order of priority they are

1. environmental awareness
2. chemicals
3. fire safety
4. waste
5. use of natural resources (energy and water).

Improvements have been made in many of these aspects.

With the creation of Aalto University, the focus has been expanded to the university level. At the School level, the concentration has been particularly on the development of environmental awareness and improving the sorting of waste.

Page content by: verkkotoimitus [at] aalto [dot] fi | Last updated: 15.12.2014.