We have already taken measures to reduce water consumption:
- During renovations to toilet and shower facilities, we always select water-saving fittings.
- The drinking of tap water is being encouraged by placing more Join the Pipe drinking water points.
- A sedum green roof has been built on the O|2 Lab Building, which absorbs water and provides insulation.
- A litre for a litre - Made Blue is an organization that creates clean drinking water in developing countries. It does so by building water points, filter systems and pipelines, so that clean drinking water can be transported from the mountains to lower-lying villages. The supplier of our vending machines helps by making a donation to Made Blue for every litre of water that comes out of the vending machines, thereby making the same number of litres available to developing countries.
- Because of the development of the VU campus in the Zuidas Knowledge District and the construction of the VUmc Imaging Center, the related creation of hard surfaces and the absorption of surface water are threatening to cause a shortfall in water storage capacity in the future. It is against this background that VU Amsterdam and VU Medical Center have concluded a water covenant with Waternet. Sufficient water storage capacity must remain available in order to cope with peaks in water levels, and thereby prevent flooding. The reduction in the amount of water storage capacity must be compensated by the creation of the equivalent surface area of water or of alternative water storage systems within the campus. Examples include the construction of the Buitenveldertsegracht and the 1,100 m2 green roof on the New University building. This sustainable water retention roof system serves as a buffer for the temporary storage of excess rainwater and then discharges the water into the sewers. This system is a way for us to contribute to water drainage at Zuidas in a sustainable way in order to prevent or limit future flooding.
In the meantime, the greenery will be maintained as much as possible in areas where no building is planned for the immediate future. The Zuidas Botanical Gardens, for example, have been renovated and will continue to be used until at least 2023. It means that the special collection of plants will remain intact. VU Amsterdam and VU University Medical Center Amsterdam employees were able to keep their vegetable gardens in the De Boeletuin garden on the site of the former school garden allotments until 2017.
Part of the roof garden is used as a test facility for research and part has been planted with sedum succulent plants, trees and shrubs from the Zuidas Botanical Gardens. The possibilities for improving the water balance through water retention using green and blues roofs and through the layout and design of sites are currently being examined.
PET water bottle free
We have the ambition to be a PET water bottle-free university by 2018. To make this possible, there will be a ban on the sale of single-use plastic water bottles (Spa, Chaudfontaine, Evian, etc). The next step is a PET-free campus, so also with regard to soft drinks.
Separation of waste products
We separate waste into more than 20 different categories. Greater efforts will be made in the future to separate plastics from residual waste and to better dispose of e-waste. The university continues to reduce waste by requiring suppliers to take back packaging after delivery and by insisting on the use of sustainable packaging materials, thereby contributing to the circular economy.
Some concrete examples include:
- Students and staff can dispose of empty plastic PET bottles in one of the large, bottle-shaped recycling containers located at various points around the VU campus
- The separation of plastic foil at the goods delivery and central warehouse
- Placing waste containers for three flows in strategic locations
- Recycling furniture and books
- Requirements for e-waste in the purchase of network equipment