AAU creates green framework for sustainable student life

AAU creates green framework for sustainable student life

Last modified: 11.12.2020

By Maria Trabjerg, Campus Service

At AAU, it is important that we not only create knowledge for the world, but that we also do so in a sustainable way. This means that much is being done to give students an environment where all facilities are as sustainable as possible. From the time you arrive until when you leave, green solutions are the order of the day. Here is an overview of the sustainable practices in day-to-day life at AAU.


Bike to your programme or your workplace. There are bike paths directly to campus in Aalborg, Esbjerg and Copenhagen. All places also provide covered bike parking, and on the Copenhagen campus there is even a bike maintenance station. At least once a year, campaigns encourage more people to bike to their programme and workplace. The entire infrastructure on the Aalborg campus is designed to accommodate bicyclists who can park right outside the door, while cars must park on the periphery of the campus area.

If you live further than biking distance, AAU encourages carpooling and is setting up a partnership with the company NaboGo, a carpooling scheme for commuters. You can also take public transport to campus, and Aalborg is opening a bicycle super highway as well as the bus rapid transit Plusbus – new, fast, environmentally-friendly ways to get through the city.


When you arrive on the main campus in Aalborg, you bike through large recreational areas with substantial biodiversity and small oases where you can exercise or relax. The areas are publicly accessible so everyone can go for a walk and enjoy the campus area. There are outdoor fitness facilities, winding canals that open out into a lake and a total of 75,000 m2 of grass and meadow areas that reflect rewilding principles, creating space for as many plant and animal species as possible. No pesticides are sprayed on university grounds, see (in Danish)


Some of the recreation areas on campus are designated as a community garden. For students who want to grow their own vegetables but do not have access to a piece of land, campus service makes raised plant beds available for free to all. In the community garden there are raised plant beds, running water, tables and benches, as well as a cosy little fire pit. Find fellowship and fresh air for creative thoughts by cultivating the land with your fellow students. Write to if you would like to book a raised plant bed.


When you enter an AAU building, energy-saving measures are everywhere. The buildings have a central control system where the heat is turned down at night and when there is no one in the building. This is partly controlled through booking systems, so if a room is not booked, the heat is kept at a minimum. Each time an area is renovated, state-of-the-art heat control panels are installed so users can turn the heat up and down themselves. In addition, renovation is regularly done with better insulation and windows so as to use as little energy as possible.


As a general rule, active cooling (air conditioning) is not used in university buildings (with the exception of laboratories and other rooms with strict temperature requirements). Instead, the air is constantly replaced through ventilation systems. This is done to create good indoor climate with lots of fresh air, minus the huge amounts of energy an air conditioning system would use. The ventilation systems, like the heat control, intelligently turn off if a room is not being used.


The toilets at AAU are also entirely climate-friendly. Throughout the university there are unisex toilets, and all buildings also have toilets accessible to disabled people. Most toilets have light sensors so the lights turn on and off automatically. The toilet itself is low-flow so about half as much water is used per toilet visit. When you wash your hands you’re also saving water because most faucets are contactless where a sensor turns the water on and off. In addition, sustainable paper towels for hand drying are manufactured to save about a third of paper compared to previous paper towels.


Denmark has some of the cleanest drinking water in the world, and cold drinking water is available free of charge to students throughout the entire university. In many places, there are centrally located drinking water dispensers with free, cold, clean drinking water.


The canteens at AAU focus on sustainable operation. In all AAU canteens, vegetarian dishes are available daily, and the canteens aim for a higher proportion of organic ingredients as well as locally grown foods that are less harmful to the environment. Students and staff are encouraged to use porcelain tableware, and where single-use tableware is used it consists of either biodegradable plastics or bamboo materials. In the longer term, the canteens will completely phase out single-use tableware, and users are already nudged to choose porcelain as there is an additional price for single-use. Another important focus area in the canteens is minimizing food waste. In most places, food is sold cheaper in the last hour before closing time to avoid food ending up in the bin.


As of 2020, at AAU we sort waste into up to 10 fractions. Plastic, bio-waste, residual waste, paper, cardboard, metal, glass, styrofoam and hazardous waste are sorted on a daily basis. In addition, laboratories and workshops sort any specific types of waste. Read more about waste sorting.


Based on circular economy ideas, AAU continuously aims for optimal use of facilities. In short, this means that students are increasingly sharing rooms, and also that the same rooms are designed to be used for different study activities. Specifically, this means that the actual building stock at AAU is decreasing (per student), which is sustainable in the sense that fewer square meters are standing unused a large part of the time.

In recent years, students at AAU have also become accustomed to sharing student workspaces. Common areas are increasingly being used to create spaces for group work. For example, in 2019, all canteens at AAU were upgraded and got a new interior design that supports problem based learning(PBL).