Taltech rector: We want to be seriously green

Tiit Land
Tiit Land Source: Tallinna Tehnikaülikool

In its activities, Tallinn University of Technology (Taltech) has added a new word to the current coat of arms, Mente et Manu ('With Mind and Hand'): namely 'Green'. But seriously green, the rector of the university Tiit Land said in his speech marking the university's 103th anniversary celebrations.

I see a green race in society. One thought is chasing another. One article won't even appear if another is already in print. All this is complemented by a multitude of opinions, ranging from light green dreams to serious green science.

Tallinn University of Technology wants to be the leader of a real green turn in Estonia. We want the new truth of how we should live and manage today, tomorrow, and certainly the day after tomorrow, to be born.

This is a big change of thought, especially for my generation, who grew up in the midst of other thought patterns, saw success especially when we could do more, penetrate deeper and fly higher.

The days of trying for more are now over. It is important to be more efficient, more economical, to think carefully and to have limits. Unfortunately, "having limits" is very difficult for big thinkers.

Green ideas are flooding in, even at Taltech. Green footprint calculators are already being seen at the entrances, which could add more credits to students who consume less.

It is suggested that a university that turns green should mainly work in spring, summer and autumn, when there is light and heat without lighting and without heating, and rest in winter.

Yes, we can change, some people also want to make fun of these topics. A joke is always welcomed, but not the green laundry that is gaining momentum. At Taltech - as well as at other universities - it seems natural that in the analysis of sustainability, the circular economy, green ideas, we only proceed from a scientific point of view.

After all, there is no point in trying to do what is impossible according to the laws of nature, it is not right to take sincere wishes from the depths of the heart into reality. There is no reason to say that we are doing something well and right when we are not actually doing it.

At Tallinn University of Technology, we want to give a green impetus to green thinking. From September 6, Helen Sooväli-Sepping, Vice-Rector of the Green Revolution, will be in office, whose task is, for example, to integrate the principles of sustainable development into curricula and to develop a circular economy strategy and curriculum.

We have set a goal to make our city carbon neutral by 2035. The newly completed nearly zero-energy building Ehituse Mäemaja, which produces solar energy with a full roof surface and uses many wooden structures to reduce its carbon footprint, can be considered a guide.

We also have an obligation based on internal coercion to participate in the process of a fair transition in Ida-Virumaa, because our Virumaa College is located there. We have compiled a vision and a concrete action plan to help implement the development revolution in Ida-Virumaa by developing green and digital competencies. One of the goals there is a regional innovation center with a supportive educational environment that supports the growth of companies' research capacity.

However, as we develop different ideas, we need to seriously research, conclude and decide what we want and can do. What we are going to change in ourselves, in our campus, in the whole world.

For decades, we have essentially stood at the same place, we have borrowed from tomorrow, without knowing whether we will ever be able to repay.

The behavior of the next generations is crucial, which depends largely on what students learn from the university today and tomorrow. Young people have a desire to do otherwise. We need to add knowledge, the scientific basis to that.

We at the university have to offer all this: both by changing curriculums and adding new ones, as well as by setting an example or at least inspiring students with our own behavior.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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