Sustainability

University of Akureyri (Mynd: Auðunn Níelsson)

Committed to growing a green campus

Environmental affairs are a priority at the University of Akureyri. We aim high and our objective is to be fully carbon neutral by 2023.

The University of Akureyri is the first university in Iceland to achieve the Green Flag certification.

We at UNAK are implementing the Green Steps programme to reduce environmental impact from our daily operations. We have now completed the first four steps of the programme and are the first university in Iceland to reach that milestone.

We look forward to strengthening still further the environmental work of the university!

We recycle

Students, teachers and other staff members at the University are exemplary in regard to the environment. Everyone sorts their garbage and places it in specially marked trash bins.

There are seven categories:

  1. Paper and non-corrugated cardboard
  2. Returnable containers
  3. Plastic
  4. Cartons and paper cups
  5. General household refuse
  6. Organic household refuse
  7. Glass and metal

There are no trash bins in classrooms and meeting rooms. You simply take your garbage with you and dispose of it at the next sorting station.

The Green Flag certification

The University of Akureyri is the first university in Iceland to achieve the Green Flag certification, which is awarded for good environmental awareness. It was granted to the University at a formal ceremony on 16 September 2013. The University was awarded the Green Flag certification for the second time in 2017.

The aims of the Green Flag certification scheme are the following:

  • Improve the environment of the University and reduce waste and use of water and energy
  • Enhance public spirit within the University
  • Increase environmental awareness through education and projects inside and outside the classroom
  • Strengthen democratic work methods in the management of the University when decisions are made in relation to students
  • Provide students with education and skills to address environmental affairs
  • Enhance international solidarity and language skills
  • Connect the University to its community, businesses and the public

Green Steps

Green Steps logo

We at UNAK began preparation for taking part in the Green Steps programme in 2019. A year later, we fulfilled all requirements for being recognised as having completed step 2 and now we only have the fifth step left.

Objectives and categories of the programme

The programme focuses on reducing environmental impact from the operations of the University and strengthening the environmental awareness of employees.
By participating in the Green Steps programme, we have the opportunity to carry out active environmental work in a systematic way. The programme is divided into five steps. Each step consists in around 20–40 measures that institutions must implement.

Objectives:

  • Reduce environmental impact
  • Strengthen environmental awareness of employees
  • Increase wellbeing of employees and improve their work environment
  • Reduce operating costs

Categories:

  • Electricity and heating
  • Transportation
  • Waste sorting and waste reduction
  • Procurement
  • Meetings and events
  • Communication and management

Green Teaching Award

The award is given to teachers who have integrated environmental protection into their courses.

Brynhildur Bjarnadóttir, Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education

Brynhildur receives the award for her course Natural Science in Learning and Play. The course focuses on the concept of sustainability in a wide context. Students learn about the Earth’s ecosystem, sustainable ways of living and the impact they have on their environment. Through working on a project, students analyse their own attitudes, values and behaviour, in addition to examining their own consumer habits. Students also learn how to calculate their ecological and carbon footprint, work on ways of improvement and present ideas on changes to their own consumer habits to address the environmental and climate problems of the future. At the same time as they analyse their own lifestyle, students relate these subjects to educational work in preschools and primary schools and look at ways to work with the concepts at other educational levels.

Rachael Lorna Johnstone, Professor in the Faculty of Law

Rachael receives the award for the courses Introduction to Circumpolar Studies and Model Arctic Council. The course Introduction to Circumpolar Studies introduces students in Polar Law to various tools and methods to address the challenges of the Arctic, including climate change, pollution, biological diversity, tourism, use of natural resources and shipping. In the course Model Arctic Council, students communicate with other students in the Arctic on meetings of the Arctic Council and in simulated work, they, for example, negotiate collaborative measures to tackle environmental problems in the Arctic. The discussions this year were on marine plastic and protected areas.

Sean Michael Shully, adjunct in the Department of Natural Resource Sciences

Sean Michael Scully was awarded for his course Microbial Biotechnology (LÍÖ1106200). Sean is an adjunct within the Department of Natural Resource Sciences. His work mostly centers around the use of microorganisms and their enzymes for producing useful molecules from renewable materials.  Microbial biotechnology is a third year undergraduate course that Sean co-teaches with Jóhann Örlygsson as a part of the Biotechnology study line. This course covers a wide-range of sustainability topics related to the use of microorganisms to produce molecules ranging from antibiotics, modified proteins, and industrial chemicals such as biofuels, and active pharmaceutical ingredients. A major topic within the class is the sustainable utilization of biomass as a raw material for cultivating microorganisms and as a starting material from which to make bio-based end products. As part of the course, students are required to undertake a project in which they convert a natural resource (such as grass, seaweed, or waste) into a useful biomolecule using microorganisms or enzyme systems.

Sólveig Zophoníasdóttir and co-applicants Áskell Örn Kárason, Bjarni Jónasson and Brynhildur Bjarnadóttir

Sólveig, Áskell Örn, Bjarni and Brynhildur receive awards for the courses Learning and work with information technology, Science in learning and play, Ethics, ideas and schools and Development theories, students and learning. In the study sessions of student teachers in the first year of teacher education, work is based on the theme of sustainability in all courses and the students work together in groups on projects related to sustainability under the guidance of teachers.

Green Thesis Award

Umhverfisráð and Kennslumiðstöð want to increase the amount of green research among students. We want to honor students who include sustainability as a topic in their final theses. By conducting research in a sustainable way or even by incorporating sustainability topics into theses, we can make a difference.

2022

Ásta G. Birgisdóttir

Ásta receives an award for the thesis SAD in the Summer

Ivan Nikonov

Ivan receives an award for the thesis Using macroalgal cultivation system in wastewater bioremediation: a case study of Bolungarvík, Iceland

Lisa Wrogemann

Lisa receives an award for the thesis Production of biodegradable Bioplastic based on PHA produced by bacteria isolates from Iceland

Oddur Einarsson

Oddur receives an award for the thesis Greining á kolefnisspori uppsjávarafurða

Pálína Björg Snorradóttir

Pálína Björg receives an award for the thesis Þjónustuupplifun Olís - uppfærsla vörumerkis og innleiðing

Salvör Káradóttir

Salvör fær receives an award for the thesis Biomass to carboxylic acids: A better route to sustainable chemical building blocks

Silja Hrönn Hlynsdóttir

Silja Hrönn receives an award for the thesis Microbial Production of Enantiomerically Pure 1,2-Propanediol

Særún Anna Brynjarsdóttir

Særún Anna receives an award for the thesis Rafrænt eftirlit - Innleiðing rafræns eftirlits í fiskveiðiflotann á Íslandi

Torfi Agnar Jónsson

Torfi Agnar receives an award for the thesis Þjónustuupplifun Olís - uppfærsla vörumerkis og innleiðing

Sustainability workshop at the University of Akureyri

The annual sustainability workshop at the University of Akureyri provides a forum for researchers and experts to exchange results, knowledge, and ideas on environmental research. A special emphasis lies on bringing together international partners, forging networks for future collaboration, and increasing interest among students by encouraging their active or passive participation.

The conference is held annually and is advertised in the university's calendar here on the web.