Leiden University, with its 60 locations in Leiden and The Hague, more than 7,000 members of staff, over 32,000 students and a large number of visitors, is a dynamic community. Every day thousands of movements take place from, to and between the different University buildings.
Students go from their room to lectures, or to the library, or they travel abroad to study. Staff commute from home to work and from their workplace they make business trips by bicycle, car, public transport or plane. Besides these movements, the University also transports items between the different locations. In 2019 these forms of transport were responsible for 24 percent of Leiden University’s gross CO2 footprint (before part of this was compensated for by investing in greening projects).
Environmentally friendly travel
There are a number of regulations for staff that encourage the use of bicycles and public transport. In addition, most University premises are easily accessible by public transport and bicycle, which makes environmentally friendly travel an easy option. The University also maintains good contacts with local municipalities and housing corporations to makew sure that future accommodation for students and PhD candidates is at easily accessible locations.
In total, the University's CO2 footprint shows that in 2019 8.1 per cent of the CO2 emissions are due to commuting between home and work and home and study location.
Home to work commuting
Leiden University carried out a study in 2017 of how staff travel to and from the University. More than half of all staff members come to work by bicycle. A third of staff members use public transport. Staff at Leiden University use environmentally friendly means of travel relatively more than other universities.
The University has made its relocation regulations more environmentally friendly: it is now easier for employees to apply for a relocation allowance if they move closer to their work. Staff can also enjoy tax benefits when purchasing a bike or e-bike or when paying for bicycle maintenance.
Home to study commuting
Students at Leiden University use relatively environmentally friendly means of transport. Around 90 per cent travel by bicycle or public transport. Most University locations are in the centre of the city and are easily accessible by public transport. In Leiden, all the University's premises are within 15 minutes walking distance of Leiden Central station. The municipality and the province are planning to improve transport connections to and from the Science Park, where the Science Campus is also located. In The Hague, all the University's buildings are in the city centre, within 10 minutes walking distance of The Hague Central Station. The Wijnhaven complex is next door to the station.
Staff at Leiden University go on business trips to meetings and conferences in the Netherlands and abroad. Business travel accounts for 16 per cent of the total CO2 emissions of the University. Almost all of these emissions come from air travel. Since 2018 we have been compensating for our CO2 emissions from air travel by purchasing green certificates. From 2021 all staff members who book a flight will see the CO2 emissions this produces as well as the extra fee that is charged for this on top of the ticket price.
Reducing flight emissions is much more important. Staff should therefore use public transport for business trips of six hours or less. In 2019, 4.5 percent of the flights booked were well within this six-hour limit and could therefore have been taken by train. Before we start applying sanctions and suchlike, we first want to make it easier to book international train journeys through our service provider and to improve the communication on this.
At the start of 2020 we replaced most of our company fleet with vehicles that are 100 percent electric and do not emit any CO2. This has made the transport of goods between our different sites and other business travel much greener. This amounts to a saving of 10 tonnes of CO2 per year.
The introduction of our distribution hub has reduced our transport movements considerably, resulting in a 65 percent CO2 reduction (28 tonnes per year). This hub, which is also the base of our internal distributor (Post & Transport), has sufficient storage space. Suppliers deliver to the hub, and orders are then delivered during the postal journeys that are already being made. This saves CO2 emissions and means less traffic in the city centres.
There are various provisions at Leiden University for working at a distance, for example a remote workplace, online data-sharing and the digital University Library catalogue. There are also facilities for electronic meetings. Most staff use Microsoft Teams for this, which is installed as a standard programme on all work computers. The University can also arrange webcams and headsets upon request and provide other supported tools for participating in meetings from home.
Home to work commuting
Leiden University is working on improving the regulations to make the use of bicycles and public transport even more attractive. The regulation on the fiscal benefits of purchasing a bike or an electric bike has been improved, as has the relocation regulation. The University is also investing in provisions for electric transport: Dual charging stations have been installed in the car parks at Sylvius, Gorlaeus and the Maliebaan. By now 26 charging points for electric transport are available.
Home to study commuting
Leiden University believes it is important for students to be able to reach University premises easily by bicycle and public transport. Most of the University's locations are in the centre of the city and are already easily accessible. The Science Campus is an exception. The municipality and the province are planning to improve the public transport connections to and from the Science Park, where the Science Campus is located. The University is also looking at the possibilities for good and environmentally friendly access to the Science Campus.
The largest proportion of the CO2 emissions for business travel comes from air travel. Attention is therefore focused primarily on reducing or compensating for these emissions. For short trips the University stipulates the use of public transport. Besides these measures, Leiden University is also exploring the opportunities for distance working. Business travel will always be necessary for Leiden as a prominent international research university to maintain contacts at home and internationally. Responsible and environmentally sustainable travel is one of the guiding principles here. The situation was examined in 2006 to determine which destinations people travel to frequently, and what form of transport they use.