VU Amsterdam has a clear vision and a clear set of ambitions when it comes to sustainability. Sustainability is an integral part of teaching and research, operations management and the buildings at the VU campus. Our core values are stewardship, responsibility and consideration for future generations. VU Amsterdam strives to maintain its position amongst the top 10 most sustainable universities worldwide. In 2017, VU Amsterdam ranked fourth in the Environmental Studies section of The Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) overview, and also fourth in the SustainaBul rankings, a ‘Studenten voor Morgen’ initiative to judge educational institutions based on the integration of sustainability in their education, research, operations and accommodation.
|Sustainable development involves achieving an ideal balance between economic interests (profit), ecology (planet) and social concerns (people). This is not just of concern in the here and now, but also in the ‘there’ and ‘later’, with relevance abroad (particularly in developing countries) and for future generations. We aim to exercise good stewardship in all facets of the university community: research, education, operations management and accommodation. We strive to translate its sustainability vision into a force for positive change for society by forging close ties with the community.|
Science for Sustainability: Teaching and Research
The destruction of the climate and of nature is the greatest challenge facing humanity. However, our ecosystem is so complex that it is unclear at what point the damage will become irreversible. The VU Amsterdam Science for Sustainability theme brings together all the disciplines that could help to secure the welfare of our planet and save its inhabitants. From biology to economics. From social sciences to natural sciences. Only by combining all these disciplines can we find answers to the biggest questions of our time.
Sustainable Campus: Operations Management and Accommodation
We seek to control and continuously reduce our environmental burden in a systematic manner and to do so transparently. It has set high sustainability demands in relation to energy management and CO2, transport and mobility, water, wastewater and waste products, procurement and social return, food and drink.
Over the next few decades, some outdated buildings will be demolished to make way for new ones, and renovation work will be done on some of them. VU Amsterdam places tough sustainability demands on its premises, using the Dutch Green Building Council BREEAM method for renovations, new buildings and demolitions. Sustainability is also an important criterion for standard building maintenance. The feasibility of the investments is assessed on the basis of the integrated accommodation expenses, the so-called Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). TCO makes investments possible with a longer technical and economic service life and lower operating costs and favours sustainable options.
Green Office VU
We believe it is important to involve students and staff in their learning and working environment. Green Office VU, which was established in 2014, is VU Amsterdam’s sustainability platform for students and university staff. The office is run by students. It is concerned with sustainability projects within four portfolios (campus, community, education and research), and organizes events, campaigns, lectures and information days. The Student Consultancy Hub (started in 2017) was established to help with sustainability issues within the university and external organizations and thus facilitates the transition towards greater sustainability. These community services help link VU Amsterdam with society, with academic knowledge flowing back into society.
Q&A lunch for older residents
In 2017, older residents were able to enjoy a spectacular view of Amsterdam from the top of the OZW building during a Q&A lunch. The lunches serve to introduce older residents to Zuidas companies and organizations. Visitors were matched with VU Amsterdam and Green Office VU employees for lunch and a pleasant chat. Many elderly people are lonely and it was no coincidence that this lunch was scheduled in the Week to End Loneliness.
Green Business Club Zuidas
The Green Business Club Zuidas is where local businesses, local authorities and social organizations meet in order to initiate and carry out sustainable and social projects in Zuidas. VU Amsterdam is an active participant in the GBC, which has been based in the VU Amsterdam Main Building since 2017. With the addition of GBC Zuidas opposite Green Office VU, the area now has a green hub that brings together teaching and research (Science for Sustainability) and the world of business. In 2017 for example, we hosted the GBC Zuidas CEO breakfast, to discuss the fulfilment of agreements and ideas included in the 2015-2020 Zuidas Ambition Statement, signed by 25 organizations.
Clear responsibilities and points of contact
- Executive Board member Marjolein Jansen’s responsibilities include sustainability.
- Dean of Sciences Guus Schreiber is responsible for teaching and research in creating the VU profile theme Science for Sustainability. Pieter van Beukering is the driving force behind sustainable education and Phillipp Pattberg does the same for research.
- Josja van der Veer, Director of the Corporate Real Estate and Facilities department, is responsible for Sustainable Campus: operations and housing. Willem Verduyn manages the sustainability portfolio for the Corporate Real Estate and Facilities Management Team.
- Peter van Kesteren is the VU Environmental Coordinator for the HRM department and Occupational Health, Safety and the Environment and chairman of the Sustainability Programme Team.
- Rooske Gaal, Energy Coordinator at the CCE Energy Coordination Center, which runs the joint VU Amsterdam/VUmc energy centre, is responsible for the MJA Long-term Energy Agreement. This long-term plan aims to realize 2% energy savings per year between 2017-2020.
- The Sustainability Programme Team handles the coordination and integral approach for Science for Sustainability and Sustainable Campus. The Programme Team discusses and fine-tunes activities in the area of sustainability between VU service departments, faculties, research institutes and Green Office VU.
- Green Office VU is the point of contact for students and employees who wish to actively contribute to more sustainability at the university. In addition to an average of seven paid student assistants, a number of students and employees also volunteer for a large number of Green Office projects and campaigns.