Sustainability in AYY in 2019
Sustainable development in AYY in 2019
AYY’s updated strategy came into force in 2019, which encourages the Student Union to lead the way in environmental issues. In connection with the strategy, AYY assessed its carbon footprint for the first time and approved new guidelines for sustainable development. The guidelines provide information on how to consider sustainability in all activities and how to reduce environmental impact of procurement, events and travel.
Carbon footprint of activities
In 2019, emissions from energy consumption in AYY’s properties accounted for 97.8% of AYY’s total greenhouse gas emissions. The share is relatively large due to AYY’s extensive property stock. Emissions of 86.9 tonnes of CO2 from travel, events and procurement were mainly from air and passenger car travel, food and beverage catering at events and larger purchases of equipment and furnishings. The carbon footprint of the entire year, 4,068 tCO2eq, is equivalent to about 400 hectares of young, well-growing forest or 342 trips around the world by plane, for example.
Commitments and campaigns
Sustainability themes are an integral part of AYY’s advocacy work. In the spring of 2019, AYY committed to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and promotes sustainability goals both in the academic community and in society at large.
In 2019, AYY participated in the Ilmastoveivi2019 campaign and signed a climate emergency declaration with thousands of other higher education communities, which was distributed at the COP25 climate conference in Madrid to representatives of national governments and the media. In 2019, AYY’s anniversary gift to associations and other student unions was mainly a donation to the Finnish Crisis Management Initiative CMI, which prevents and resolves violent conflicts through informal dialogue and mediation.
More sustainable student housing
Campus and housing are AYY’s most important development targets on its way to a low-carbon and ecological society. In 2019, the total energy consumption in AYY’s properties was 2,058 MWh. 78% of the consumption consisted of district heating with fossil fuels, 6% of fossil electricity and 16% of carbon-neutral electricity. There is no energy production in AYY’s properties. During 2020, AYY will switch to carbon-neutral energy.
In the spring of 2019, AYY started plastic collection on campus and brought plastic collection containers to Teekkari Village. At the same time, sorting opportunities and instructions were developed for apartments and rental facilities. AYY promoted circular economy on Otaniemi Campus by supporting Reuse & Rescue pilot, which aims to enable the recycling, rental and reuse of campus goods and to reduce the ecological footprint of temporary student housing.
AYY’s apartments have been built to be durable, and efforts have been made to choose water-saving fittings and materials that are resistant to wear and tear. In the future, the ecology and sustainability of the life cycle of new student housing will be considered as a key part of the project planning phase and AYY’s planning guidelines.
Towards the sustainable 2020s
In AYY, the environmental impact of travel, procurement and events will be guided by sustainable development guidelines. During 2020, AYY will switch to carbon-neutral energy, which will significantly reduce the Student Union’s carbon footprint. Other environmental effects are reduced by preferring rail transport, using consideration before making purchases and by preferring vegetarian food. The remaining emissions from travel, procurement and events that are difficult to reduce will be offset from 2020 onwards.
The strategy will be updated in 2020 and it will specify AYY’s next steps for sustainable development. With the update of the strategy, AYY will have the opportunity to define new and concrete goals for sustainable development in terms of carbon neutrality, circular economy, responsible investments and social and cultural sustainability. In the current decade, we will make decisions to build a sustainable, fair and resilient future.