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Students make recommendations for more sustainable university

Leiden University is working on sustainability and should give its efforts more publicity. This is the conclusion of Industrial Ecology master’s students who investigated the extent to which Leiden University is green and sustainable.

Growing number of sustainable initiatives

In their report ‘Master Key: Making Leiden University Sustainable’, the five students assert that the University is making good efforts on several fronts. It has committed to various agreements involving targets for sustainability, and it supports green initiatives. New buildings, such as the future Science Campus, are based on sustainable design principles. And a growing number of study programmes and research groups have a strong focus on sustainability.

More publicity needed

However, the report concludes that these good examples are not sufficiently publicised. ‘Most students and staff simply don’t know what kind of green initiatives are taking place, because there’s not enough communication about them,’ says Miranda Verboon, one of the report’s authors. The University is currently working on a new Environmental Policy Plan.

Recommendations of the report

Together with Green Keys, a student-run foundation aimed at making the University greener, they recently presented their results at a symposium on sustainability. The students make a variety of other recommendations. Anna Schwarz, chair of Green Keys: ‘The University should be able to develop an even more specific sustainability policy. A new sustainability officer could be a good driving force for this.’

Green Office

The students also argue for a Green Office, a visible and attractive contact point that encourages green initiatives and helps to implement them. Several other universities already have one. Schwarz: ‘A Green Office can be run by a member of staff and students who use it as their internship. They can do research and look at, for instance, how canteens can be made even more sustainable and how energy consumption can be further reduced.’ Verboon adds: ‘A Green Office is an investment, but it will also save money in the long run, as the University becomes more sustainable. It also ensures greater continuity.’

Climate neutral in 2050

Another plea made by the students is a drastic reduction in CO2 emissions: by 2050 the University should be climate neutral, having reduced its energy consumption by 2 percent each year. To achieve these targets, good instructions must be given to the buildings’ users, both staff and students.

Concrete tips for a more sustainable university

In addition, the students offer various concrete tips:

  • The computers in most University buildings switch off automatically between 0.00 and 7.00; they should switch off or go into sleep mode earlier than this, when they are not being used.
  • Provide waste bins with three openings, so that plastic, food and other waste can be separated.
  • Create green roofs from moss, which will have an insulating effect.
  • At present, only Plexus has solar panels; they should be installed on more buildings.

Solar panels on student houses

Green Keys aims to encourage more sustainable behaviour not only in the University but also in students themselves. Tips are given via posters, digital screens in University buildings, a monthly newsletter, Facebook and Twitter. These tips range from meat-free days to shorter showers. And Schwarz also has another dream: ‘Every student house should have solar panels on the roof.’

Read more

•  Report Master Key: Making Leiden University sustainable

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