Sustainable HAMK - Häme University of applied sciences
Sustainable HAMK
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woman working at a vegetable garden

Sustainable HAMK

Many paths to greater sustainability

Principles of sustainable development have long been part of the leadership and operational management of Häme University of Applied Sciences, from the strategic policies right through to the school’s everyday operations.

Our Sustainable Development Programme, which guides all our activities, takes into account the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. In this way, the knowledge and skills for building a sustainable future are present in all our education and research and all aspects of everyday campus life. 

Through our RDI activities, we generate solutions to local and global sustainability challenges together with our partners. HAMK has been working to solve intractable problems since its establishment in 1995. Development cooperation as well as education, research and development projects that promote well-being, the bioeconomy and sustainable design have been a central part of our teaching and RDI activities. 

Our sustainable development measures are monitored in a comprehensive manner using both national indicators (e.g. the joint carbon footprint indicator for universities of applied sciences) and international indicators (e.g. GreenMetric World University rankings), and development measures are constantly being implemented. 

HAMK has taken sustainable development into account in its procurements and public calls for tenders, such as tendering for restaurant services, office supplies and construction contracts. We aim to find suppliers that are developing their operations to become more sustainable.

HAMK works actively with the regional joint procurement unit Sarastia Oy and aims to promote sustainable development in competitive tendering. 

Sustainable education at HAMK

Our sustainable development goals are present in all our education and training. Since 2019, for example, students on all our courses have been required to consider the results of their thesis also from the sustainability perspective.

In addition, HAMK has three degree programmes that are closely related to sustainable development:

Sustainable development: In this programme, the students familiarise themselves with the many different facets of sustainable development, including environmental technology, official activities and the different environmental monitoring tools and operating models for environmental restoration. Graduates from the course acquire work in various coordination and specialist roles in organisations such as municipalities, regional organisations, associations or companies. This programme also makes its training available to the entire higher education community.

Bioeconomy engineer: The training provides the necessary IT skills for developing technical solutions and products for the bioeconomy and circular economy. Graduates from the programme acquire work as IT professionals specialised in the bioeconomy and circular economy within industry or engineering and design agencies, in public bodies, or as independent entrepreneurs.

Smart and sustainable design: Students on this programme learn to understand environmental values, circular economy challenges and the application of the latest technology in the fields of footwear, clothing and ceramics design.

Naturally, all HAMK education dealing with natural resources also highlights sustainability issues in different ways. For example, in horticulture and built environment education, sustainability is considered in all study modules.

Horticulture studies, for instance, involve consideration of different energy forms, the utilisation and recycling of side flows and waste, sustainable plant protection, organic farming, the environmental impacts of nutrients and the necessary conditions for environmental support. Experimental activities are carried out using compost mixtures, recycled fertilisers and moss-based growing media. The advanced studies focus on topics such as preservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services, social and economic issues in horticultural production and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The students learn about topics such as reducing nutrient leaching, the use of biocarbon, algae fertilisers and ecologically sustainable and renewable growing media.

Built environment studies involve subjects such as life cycle thinking for materials, principles of storm water management and the importance of the domestic production of materials for garden construction. The perspectives and norms of sustainable development are included in the study of planning, construction, property development, maintenance and administration. For example, cooperation between the orderer and the contractor is particularly important for achieving sustainable development goals. The studies focus on topics such as foundations of ecology, landscape ecology, biodiversity and rare habitats. Attention is also paid to social sustainability, such as interactive planning and the accessibility of the built environment to different user groups.

In studies of rural industries, the students familiarise themselves with sustainability in agricultural production processes, for example from the perspective of the livestock industry and crop production.

The studies in early childhood education and care that are part of the Social Services Degree Programme address the principles and themes of a sustainable lifestyle as part of the operating culture of early childhood education and care. According to the national curriculum for early childhood education and care (2018, 32), all activities in early childhood education and care take into account the necessity of a lifestyle that is ecologically, socially, culturally and economically sustainable.

A new curriculum will be introduced for the Degree Programme in Social Services in autumn 2020. Within this new curriculum, the students will familiarise themselves with the principles of a sustainable lifestyle during their 10-week internship and find out how the principles are presented and implemented in practice within the context of social work or early childhood education and care.

In addition, teaching on sustainable development is part of the further education and continuing education on offer, with the subjects covered varying from year to year.
HAMK it is also contributing to implementing the City of Hämeenlinna’s strategy by participating in the development and implementation of a sustainable lifestyle study path.

Sustainable research at HAMK

Our RDI activities are strongly oriented towards the goals of sustainable development. Ecological sustainability is promoted, for example, through circular economy projects and through water and biodiversity research. Our most important research partners are the Natural Resources Institute, the University of Helsinki, Aalto University and the Finnish Environment Institute. 

HAMK’s natural resource sector campuses in Mustiala, Evo and Lepaa promote biodiversity in production environments. When selecting production processes, consideration is always given to the impacts on the ecosystems and species in the area. The research methods include traditional species surveys combined with new production-supporting technologies. 

The teaching and research forests at Evo include both commercial forests that have been managed in different ways as well as different categories of protected areas. Forest management measures take into account the potential impacts on both species and the landscape. 

The Lepaa campus serves as a test platform for planning green areas in modern cities. The aim is to find new ways to increase biodiversity and the abundance of species in the built environment. Cross-sectoral planning can be used to create species-rich environments that promote adaptation to climate change. 

The teaching and research farm at Mustiala shifted to completely organic production in 2020. The impact of organic production on the abundance of species in the farming environment is studied annually for both vertebrates and invertebrates. 

The preservation and promotion of biodiversity in campuses does not extend only to natural ecosystems. These ecosystems also serve as storage locations for native varieties and as genetic pools, which play a key role in the adaptation of primary production to climate change. 

Socio-cultural sustainability is also promoted by measures such as encouraging the participation of marginal groups. Vocational training and education systems in developing countries have been the core focus of several projects. 

Sustainable campuses at HAMK

All of our seven campuses are continuously operating in accordance with sustainable development principles in areas such as recycling, resource efficiency and catering.  The campuses are constantly being developed towards becoming prime examples of the operating environments of the future.

Of central importance in this is the commitment of the entire higher education community to sustainable development – both staff and students alike. Effective sustainable development solutions are disseminated through both internal and external communications. 

Examples of sustainable development measures on campuses: 

  • Campususers have the opportunity to charge electric hybrid cars by using the eParking system.  
  • Areas with the HAMK campuses at Evo, Lepaa and Mustiala have been left or actively established as suitable habitats for pollinators. In addition, pollinator surveys have been carried out in Mustiala for several summers in a row. 
  • The Evo, Lepaa and Mustiala campuses produce heat within their own wood chip heating plants. In this respect, the production of thermal energy is completely renewable. 
  • Lepaa Park is Finland’s first Green Flag certified park. 

HAMK sustainability in numbers

  • Sustainable development education started at HAMK in 2008. About 30 sustainable development graduate from the school each year. 
  • HAMK’s carbon sinks consist of both HAMK’s own forests and its concession forests, with a total area of 3 400 hectares. These forests absorb a total of 7 600 tonnes of Co2-eq (tonnes equivalent). 
  • Approximately 15 000 to 25 000 new trees are planted each year in HAMK forests. 
  • We use 100% renewable energy (water and wind). 
  • The fuelwood collected through our own forest management produced 1 206 Mwh of thermal energy. 
  • Our largest emission sources in 2019 were campus heating (approx. 1 125 Ton CO2-eq), HAMK cars (approx. 52 Ton CO2 eq), the use of private cars for travel during working days (approx. 90 Ton CO2-eq) and flights (approx. 208 Ton CO2-eq). 

Materials and publications

The sustainable development perspective is given broad consideration in the vocational- and working life -oriented material and scientific material acquired for the HAMK library. The printed material relating to sustainable development is mainly located at the Forssa campus library. The online material obtained by the library also contains a lot of interesting reading from the field of sustainable development, including e-books and e-journals. You can browse the sustainable development materials of the HAMK library on this page. Materials from the HAMK library can also be borrowed by people other than students and staff members. 

Sustainable development in higher education – research at HAMK between 2017 and 2020: