Sustainability banner

NTNU Sustainability. Illustration.

Photo green superhero over the city

Green superhero over the city. Photo.

Knowledge for change

Knowledge for change

Overcoming the grand societal challenges of our time will require new thinking and new knowledge. That is our strategy. NTNU Sustainability is one of four strategic research areas at NTNU for the period 2014-2023. The programme brings together the best minds from a range of disciplines to create the knowledge needed by society to understand and change unsustainable patterns of behaviour and development. NTNU Sustainability aims to be an international leader. 

NTNU’s research on sustainable development of society includes environmental, economic and social aspects in the broadest sense. 

Research Strategy

Research Strategy

NTNU Sustainability consists of several core partners from research environments that excel within the field of environmental sustainability. In addition, other actors are affiliated partners on a project basis. Until the end of 2018, the program will focus on four main areas of research. To secure strategic interdisciplinary collaboration, each of these main areas should combine elements of research across three interlinked dimensions:

– Research on innovative, methods solutions and technologies
– Research on modelling, analysis and environmental impact assessment
– Research on behavior and governance for realizing improvement potential

Research areas

Research areas

Changes in land use and consumption of goods and services leads to increasing pressure on biolodiversity and ecosystem services. Climate distruptions, pollution and overharvesting of resources are drivers that increase this pressure. To maintain biodiversity and sustain the ecosystem services our societies depend upon, a well coordinated societal effort is necessary within politics, technology, economics and consumer behavior. NTNU Sustainability will research the effects of anthropogenic effects on biodiversity to contribute to well informed decision making. The target is to understand how political, economic and social change processes and conflict of interest affect nature, and which measures will prevent and stop loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Central research topics are nature-based solutions, methods and technologies for monitoring, valuation and modelling.

Competence areas: Biology, natural history, geography, economics, archeology and cultural history, sosiology and politics, ethics, industrial ecology, architecture, urban planning.

The leader of the research area A is Anders Finstad.

Acknowledging planetary boundaries, circular economy means that all natural resources are re-used so societies can be run over time without waste. Environmental analysis can contribute to show how society’s energy use and material flows affect nature, society and economy, and how this can be balanced with available resources. Material stream analysis, life cycle analysis, information technology and systems thinking can be used to shape solutions in production and consumption and end of product life with a minimal environmental footprint. Methods like modelling, indicators, analysis and strategy can be combined to realize real sustainability measures. Areas like energy production, goods production, metal industry, transport, marine and maritime, waste management and recycling are centrali in this research area.

Competence areas: Low emission technology, material technology, 3D-printing, industry 4.0, life cycle analysis, environmental analysis, economical analysis, indicators, multi criteria analysis related to sustainability.  

The leader of the research area B is Edgar Hertwich

Climate change is one of the largest global challenges of our time. To maintain temperatures below the two degree target, a two-sided approach is necessary. Firstly, emission reduction is necessary to reduce human impact on climate and environment, and secondly adaptation of human habitat to become resilient towards changes following climatic distruptions. The methods to achieve climate change mitigation and adaptation are measures to change consumer behavior and increased efficiency in industry, transport and urban environments. Real emission reduction is important, hence climate action should be taken based on research on actual consumer behavior and decision making. Climate adaptation largely concerns reinforced or adjusted infrastructure to include smarter and nature-based solutions in built environments. Examples can be distributed energy, water management and green roofs and facades.

Competence areas: Industrial ecology, urban planning, urban history and heritage, built environment, transport, information technology, geography, sosiology, politics, social science, pshychology, cultural studies.

The leader of the research area C is Tomas Moe Skjølsvold.

By 2050 it is expected that 70 per cent of the global population will live in cities. The most efficient way to achieve sustainable development will therefore be targeted planning for smart solutions that lead to low emission cities. A common denominator in diverse urban environments will be holostic systems, high quality of life and functionality services, housing and transport for the inhabitants. Growing economies has a particularly large potential for smart solutions, since infrastructure and urban planning can be implemented from an early stage. Since energy consumption and emission levels are largely determined by urban planning, both new built environments and restructuring of old infrastructure will be necessary. A smart cities approach will facilitate sustainable economic growth and social advancement in a broad specter of urban environment profiles.

Competence areas: Architecture, urban planning, urban history and heritage, built environment, transport, information technology, geography, sosiology, politics, social science, pshychology, cultural studies. 

The leader of the research area D is Annemie Wyckmans.

Core partners

Core partners

The biology cluster at NTNU consists of the following actors:

Center for Biodiversity Dynamics (CBD) is a Centre of Excellence (CoE/SFF) funded by the Research Council of Norway. The goal of CBD is to analyse dynamics of biological systems in time and space, and to identify general patterns which can be used to predict changes in biological diversity. This will lead to better understanding of how human impact, land use changes and climate change affects to biological diversity.

Contact: Ivar Herfindal
More information about CBD

Environmental Toxicology group (ENVITOX) at the Department of Biology. The group’s research focuses on levels and effects of pollutants in organisms, with main focus on ecotoxicology, ie. effects of pollutants on wildlife organisms. Aims for ENVITOX research is to investigate potential ecological relevant effects of pollutants. This is knowledge that is important for ensuring sustainable ecosystems, sustainability of healthy food resources for humans and sustainable production systems. Such insight can secure human health and welfare in both urban and rural environments.

Contact: Bjørn Munro Jenssen
More information about ENVITOX

The Ecology group at the Department of Biology is hosting the largest EU project at NTNU at the moment, AfricanBioServices. There is a close connection between the Ecology group and the above mentioned Centre of Biodiversity Dynamics (CBD). Close collaboration with external research partners makes this a dynamic and interdisciplinar research team. The Ecology group provides research capacity on biodiversity of bryophytes, marine environments, freshwater, tundra and forest ecology.

Contact: Bente Jenssen Graae
More information about the Ecology Group

This research group is connected to the newly established Centre for Service Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Finance Technology, which is hosted by the Department of International Business at NTNU in Ålesund. The main objective of the centre is to conduct research that supports public and private decision makers to promote business innovation. The centre works in close collaboration with the Green Value Creation group at the Department of Industrial Economics and Technology Management and the Network for Green Growth at NTNU Ålesund. Research topics of particular attention are environmental life cycle management; life cycle perspectives and value chains; harmonised reporting systems; product requirements and product documentation and green procurement.

Contact: Hans Solli-Sæther and Annik Magerholm Fet
More about Department of International Business

CeBES is a research centre established by NTNU, SINTEF, NINA and NIBIO, hosted by the University Museum. The main research areas are anthropogenic effects on biodiversity and ecosystem services; Climate change, land and water use; Historical sustainability perspectives; Monitoring, valuation and modelling. Furthermore, the political, economic and social change processes as measures to stop loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services are central to connect these fields. CeBES aims to synthesise science that integrate natural and social perspectives on sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem services. A strong interface with policy makers enables knowledge dissemination to promote the transition to environmental sustainability.

Contact: Reidar Andersen and Anders Finstad
More information about CeBES

CenSES – “Centre for Sustainable Energy Studies” – is a Centre for Environment-friendly Energy Research (CEER/FME) funded by the Research Council of Norway. The main objective of CenSES is to conduct research that supports public and private decision makers in strategic decisions and policies that will promote environmentfriendly energy technologies and lead to a sustainable energy system. Research at CenSES that contributes particularly to environmental sustainability are the cutting-edge research areas ”policy making and transition strategies”, ”energy systems and markets” and ”energy scenario development”. Most of CenSES’ projects are interdisciplinary by nature, hovering in the borderland between disciplines and between social sciences and technology. The research centre has strong connections to industry, public offices and research partners.

Contact: Asgeir Tomasgard
More information about CenSES

This research cluster has close collaboration with the similar cluster in Social sciences and Economics, and contains the following actors:

Programme for Applied Ethics (PAE) is a cross-facultary programme funded with support from the Research Council of Norway. PAE aims to contribute to the development of competence in applied ethics in both research and education. The programme will prioritize the research topics related to environmental ethics, democratic governance of natural resources, global justice and future generations, and responsible research and innovation (RRI). Affiliated partners of PAE are the research areas ”Environmental history” and ”Media, the environment, and climate change”. The first area gathers researchers from both the Department of Historical Studies and the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture, while the latter is the topic of ongoing research at the Department of Art and Media Studies.

Contact: May Thorseth
More information about PA

Centre for Energy, Environment and Climate (CEEC) at the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture was established to coordinate the growing research activity within energy consumption, environmental governance and behavior. The centre collaborates with other social sciences (like psychology, economy and political science), humanities (philosophy and applied ethics), architecture and engineering. The centre specializes in research topics related to sustainable consumption and user practices; user engagement and climate policies; public perceptions of and engagement with climate change and sustainable energy; as well as smart and sustainable cities.

Contact: Marianne Ryghaug and Marius Korsnes
More information about CEEC

This research cluster has close collaboration with the similar cluster in Social sciences and Economics, and contains the following actors

Consumption, Environment and Traffic group (CET) at the Department of Psychology conducts research on complex consumer decisions and behavior in the context of physical/ technological, social and governance structures. Resource consumption, energy use, natural and biological systems, transport, investments, environmental communication and behavior change processses are central topics. The CET group merges competencies from social sciences, humanities, natural science and engineering. CET also participates in the European Energy Research Alliance (EERA).

Contact: Christian A. Klöckner
More information about CET

Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development group (EESD) at the Department of Sociology and Political Science targets research on governance, institutions, management and public policy as tools to achieve sustainable development. Researchers at EESD are especially strong in the field of energy politics and policy at both national and international levels. The group specializes in renewable energy, carbon capture and storage (CCS), energy security, sustainable marine fisheries and aquaculture. It is also strong in linking climate distruptions with civil war and conflict, with historically strong ties to the Peace Research Institute in Oslo.

Contact: Jennifer L. Bailey
More information about EESD

Deptartment of Geography at the Faculty of social sciences and technology management explores the interface between nature and society, and covers a wide range of fields across human and physical geography. Department of geography engages in debates on central problems and specializes in research concerning environmental sustainability. In particular, strategic research areas are climate, vulnerability, adaptation and mitigation; environment, resources and management; and mobility, transnationalism and inequality.

Contact: Karoline Daugstad
More information about department of Geography

Department of Economics and NTNU Business School explore economic and ecological interactions, combining economic theory with sustainable cultivation of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Fields of speciality related to environmental sustainability are bioeconomics, natural resource economics, environmental economics and microeconomics. Researchers in these departments actively persue public debate, and a number of the staff members act as advisors to Norwegian policy makers.  

Contact: Anders Skonhoft (Dept of Economics) and Jon Olaf Olaussen (NTNU Business School)
More information about Department of Economics and NTNU Business School


The Inustrial Ecology Programme at the Department of Energy and Process engineering has facilitated interdisciplinary research and education on environmental sustainability at NTNU since the late nineties. IndEcol is an internationally established research group with scientists that contribute actively to major global initiatives like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Strong focus on methodological advancements and applied outcomes, as well as strong national and international networks, has made IndEcol a highly successful contributor in research projects that apply environmental sustainability analysis in a wide range of topis, from resource extraction and recycling, to energy systems, built environment, ecosystem management, lifestyle and governance. The Research Council of Norway recently ranked IndEcol as one of the top three technology research groups in Norway.

Contact: Anders Hammer Strømman
More information about IndEcol

NMRC is located at the Department of  Manufacturing and Civil Engineering at NTNU in Gjøvik. This interdisciplinary research centre synergizes research, education and industries with the aim to improve the competence of Norwegian production systems. NMRC uses environmental, economic, social and technological perspectives in complex manufacturing systems. The research on data-driven optimized solutions to improve efficiency and reduce side effects gives added value to the Norwegian manufacturing sector. Selected research topics are especially important in connection with environmental sustainability. Systematic modelling of production systems (e.g. additive manufacturing process, 3D printing) and interactions between the production system, built environment and ecosystems is important.

Following this, it models environmental impacts of the activities of production systems with life cycle perspectives in an ESG context. Another core topic is digitalization of the production process cross supply chain (e.g. automobile component production) to enhance the efficiency of the production process and information for decision making. Lastly, Big Data driven optimization of the technology solutions (e.g. zero fail production, new materials and processes) for multi objectives decision making for sustainability is central.

Contact: Lizhen Huang
More information about NMRC

This cluster includes leading actors from a number of faculties and departments, as well as systematic collaboration with Trondheim Kommune and other partners. The cluster consists of the following actors:

NTNU Smart Sustainable Cities at the Faculty of Architecture and Design was initially formed to increase the success rate of high level EU project proposals with extensive international collaboration requirements. In 2017 – 2018, the group will develop a new programme for smart urban transformation and co-creation, connecting ambitious environmental targets with high quality life and stakeholder participation. SSC has developed leading roles in EU fora and initiatives.  

More information about Smart Sustainable Cities

Zero Emission Neighborhoods in Smart Cities (ZEN) is a Centre for Environment-friendly Energy Research (CEER/FME) funded by the Research Council of Norway. ZEN builds on the experiences of the previous centre Zero Emission Buildings (ZEB), now expanded to district level and with more interdisciplinary issues. ZEB / ZEN is already collaborating with Smart Cities NTNU and the Building Protection Center at NTNU.

More information about FME ZEN

NTNU Wood is a recently established knowledge centre initiated by NTNU and TreSenteret. The centre aims to strengthen the bonds between education and research within wood-based built materials at NTNU with industries within wood and forestry. It also coordinates contributions to ARENA Skog Innovation Centre and the Leadership group on Norwegian Wood Industry.

More information about NTNU Wood

Research Centre for Architectural Conservation and Transformation was established in 2016 to become a knowledge resource for the conservation and development of protected built environments for education, management and construction industry. The centre cooperates with private and public sector, other universities and research communities nationally and internationally with expertise in the sustainable use of built cultural heritage.

More information about the Centre

The urban planning environment at the Faculty of Architecture and Design is represented by the Urban, Physical Planning and Urban Ecological Planning areas. These are relevant contributors to achieve inclusive, safe and sustainable cities and settlements.

Contact: Annemie Wyckmans

Mini calevent portlet


FUTURUM - An exhibition about the future

FUTURUM - An exhibition about the future

Forum of Young Scholars in Sustainability

Forum of Young Scholars in Sustainability

The Forum of Young Scholars in Sustainability (FYSS) is an interdisciplinary network for young researchers at NTNU. The purpose of FYSS is to promote the concept of sustainable development by sharing ideas, engaging in activities, and developing projects in collaboration with both internal and external stakeholders.
Visit the FYSS website

Strategic Research Areas

Strategic Research Areas

Illustration Health Health                Illustration energy Energy

Illustration oceans Oceans               Illustration sustainability Sustainability



New series of 9 videos about Climate Change and the transition to a zero-emission society

Tree. Illustration.

This series of videos, which is based on 6 public seminars given by Andrea Tilche at UiT, during the winter and spring of 2019, endeavours to open a broader discussion on this very subject. 

Ecology professor Sandra Myrna Díaz is the winner of the 2019 Gunnerus Award in Sustainability Science. The Gunnerus Award in Sustainability Science is conferred by the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters (DKNVS) and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU).

NTNU Sustainability PhD-student at the Science Museum, Anders Lorentzen Kolstad, came second in the Researchers Grand Prix on 27 September 2018.

Seminar "Biodiversity-from-knowledge-to-policy?" with Sir Bob Watson took place the 7th of February 2018. Edited video stream from the seminar is now available. 

Carl Folke wins the Gunnerus Sustainability Science Award 2017

Check out the Starmus climArt Pollution Pods
TreFokus chosen as a sustainable building solution for the Nordic Bioeconomy cases