The sustainability model of Politecnico di Torino

Politecnico di Torino's award-winning Green Team engages the entire campus community to achieve long-term change and positively affect campus life.
16th November 2021
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For Politecnico di Torino (PoliTo), sustainability is about ‘futurity’, critical and value thinking and long-term environmentally and social responsiveness. It represents an extraordinary journey and an opportunity to develop a strategy for disseminating environmental responsiveness and sustainability culture across society.

Sustainability is part of PoliTo's Statutory Declaration and Strategic Plan since 2012, and currently it is included in the Academic Action Plan 2018-2024 with reference to the UN 2030 Agenda. In order to speed up the achievement of these objectives, PoliTo is adopting a new strategy to work on the themes, based on an interdisciplinary and inclusive approach.

The PoliTo Green Team

In 2015, PoliTo formed a working group made up of six professors called Green Team with the aim of working on sustainability issues. To accelerate the achievement of more sustainability objectives and to make them structural, it was clear how crucial the participation of the entire campus community would have been in the initial phase of the policy-making process. The Green Team thus became a wider project that involves all representatives of the entire campus community.

The new Community ‘Green Team' (CGT) counts about 60 people, from 18 different administrative areas and 11 academic departments, as well as board members and representatives of student associations. This group discusses solutions, plans actions and supports the mission towards the achievement of sustainability goals on campus and in the regional context. The driving force behind the project is the idea that by involving all stakeholders early in the decision-making process, change will last a long time and positively affect campus life.

Whole system approach

The CGT is completely integrated into the institutional system of the university governance, and this is the peculiarity that makes this initiative so interesting and unique. The CGT members are called to be active in sharing their expertise and ideas to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the 2030 Agenda.

The activity of the CGT is structured in small thematic boards in which the members work on specific sustainability issues. The working groups include: energy and climate, mobility, resources, education, social inclusion and public awareness. These propose policies, promote actions, define a budget and a calendar of activities.

The results of the thematic commissions are reported to regular plenary meetings and to the Administrative Board of the university for approval. Moreover, members of the CGT are also part of a wider community of the Italian University network for Sustainable development (RUS); the collaboration with the national network, coordinated by POLITO, is mutually enriching and encourages a stronger impact of sustainable actions.

The innovative approach to university sustainability of the CGT initiative lies in having shifted the focus on the possibility of becoming an active part of the change. The involvement of the entire university community in the policy making process increases the participation and sensibleness of the people who will be asked to work actively to actually implement the policies. Furthermore, the opportunity to openly discuss new policies allows the CGT to quickly outline possible critical issues and to find shared solutions that speed up the achievement of results.

Main achievements

Many results have already been achieved so far, including the promotion of a wider soft skill and innovative educational approach concerning environmental and social issues; an interdisciplinary ‘Great Challenges’ lesson for the entire community of students and a transversal PhD course on the SDG in collaboration with the Joint Research Centre. It oversaw the implementation of awareness activities of the 2030 Agenda that led to a ‘behavioural change’ on campus. It is working to maximise movements in and out of the campus through soft mobility. It is eliminating the purchases of single-use plastic in the vending machines and canteens with the consequent saving of waste. It is working on the action plan towards a carbon-neutral campus. Thanks to synergistic awareness raising actions, the local community, which increasingly participates in the events, acquires awareness of environmental protection.

Awards and acknowledgments

The Green Team’s initiatives have been largely appreciated and received numerous awards, including the Premio PA Sostenibile 2018 (the Sustainable Public Administration Award 2018). In the 2018 it has been acknowledged in the ISCN 2018 WEF-ISCN Report: Educating with Purpose and, recently, in the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Green Charter - Guidance Material by the European Commission.

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