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Operations management and housing

VU wants to control its environmental impact and be transparent about it. We set high standards in terms of sustainability for energy and CO2, transport and mobility, (waste) water and waste, purchasing and social return, food and drink.

VU Campus is being renewed step by step. This renewal of the campus, partly through replacement, partly through renovation, is necessary because a number of buildings are functionally and technically outdated. We set high sustainability requirements for these improvements.


  • Operations management

    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    Over the next few decades, some outdated buildings will be demolished to make way for new ones, and renovation work will be done on some of them.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 VU Campus
    Watch the video.

    Vision and Environmental Barometer
    VU Amsterdam seeks to control and continuously reduce its environmental burden in a systematic manner and to do so transparently. For this reason, in all of its annual reports, mostly from 2010, we report on the development of the environmental performance on the themes energy and CO2, transportation and mobility, waste water and waste, procurement and social return, and food, sustainable catering and fair trade. Usage statistics, performance indicators and carbon footprint calculations are all included in a report known as the Environmental Barometer Report. With a view to making relevant trends and developments transparent, the data from the past four years also forms part of the VU Amsterdam Environmental Barometer Report.

    Energy and CO2
    VU Amsterdam and VUmc are working hard to become fossil-free by 2035, which means 100% natural gas-free in combination with 100% sustainably generated electricity. When it comes to energy provision, VU Amsterdam’s short and long-term goals are to reduce the demand for energy and to use it as efficiently as possible. In 2017, VU Amsterdam and VUmc joined forces to draw up a 2035 Energy Master Plan. This describes the transition from energy management to a sustainable VU campus. The ambition is to be in the top 3 of universities and university medical centres in the Netherlands in the area of sustainable, affordable and reliable energy within ten years.

    Transport and mobility
    Over the past several years, VU Amsterdam has taken steps to ‘go greener’ when it comes to commuter traffic and transport relating to university business and services. Travelling to and from work by car has dropped dramatically. By moving parking underground the quality of public space is improved and the campus will feature more green areas.

    Waste water and waste
    We have already taken various measures in the area of water consumption reduction and will further expand this in the future. We separate waste into more than 20 different categories. Greater efforts will be made in the future to separate plastics from residual waste. We encourage the drinking of tap water through join the pipe taps on the campus square and in various VU buildings. From 2018, PET water bottles will no longer be sold on campus. 

    Procurement and social return
    We are committed to sustainable purchasing practices. During the process of purchasing goods, work or services, careful consideration is always given to the economic, social and environmental aspects. In the case of tenders, the negative effects on the environment and social aspects are automatically taken into consideration in accordance with the rules of PIANOo, the expertise centre for public procurement at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy. In our procurement we follow the actual product groups from May 2017. For VU Amsterdam, the minimum requirements are limited to the lower limit. For relevant tenders, such as catering and vending, students and staff are involved in drafting the tender requirements and the awarding of the contract.

    Food and drink
    The catering is purchased 100% sustainably, with extra attention for vegetarian options and sustainable animal welfare attributes.

  • Premises

    The VU campus is gradually being upgraded. This modernization of the campus, partially through replacement and renovation, is necessary because a number of buildings have become outdated and inefficient. VU Amsterdam places tough sustainability demands on its premises, using the Dutch Green Building Council BREEAM method for renovations, new buildings and demolitions in order to highlight its aims and performance.

    New buildings
    New buildings are designed and certified as much as possible to meet the BREEAM New Buildings ‘Excellent’ level. The Nieuwe Universiteits-Building has gained an ‘Excellent’ BREAAM certificate for its design. The Onderzoeksgebouw VU (former school garden allotments) is currently in the design stages and we hope we will again obtain a BREEAM certificate for this structure. The W&N-building will be demolished as sustainably as possible. Both projects were reported to the DGBC in 2017, the body that issues the BREEAM certificate. The OnderzoeksgebouwVU will be a Laboratory building that does not fall within the scope of the standard assessment guideline. Together with the DGCB, VU Amsterdam has set up a tailor-made process to arrive at a 'BREEAM Bespoke' assessment guideline.

    Existing buildings
    Existing buildings will be assessed according to BREEAM In Use during the next few years. The OZW-building is the first existing building to have been checked using BREEAM criteria and is certified as ‘very good’ for both Asset and Management, and has Energy Label B. The Initium building was the first education building in the Netherlands to gain a BREEAM NL In Use for Higher Education sustainability certificate. The building has ‘excellent’ scores for Asset, ‘good’ for Management, and ‘very good’ for the Use category. The office part of the ACTA building has been declared ‘very good’ for the Asset category. The Main Building is almost 100,000 m2 large and boasts offices, lecture halls and other facilities. This building received a score of Good in both the Management and Asset categories.

    It is our ambition to obtain BREEAM certifications with a score of at least Good for all of the university’s properties. With this certification, another step has been taken in the development of a sustainable campus, a pleasant place to work and study.

    Building maintenance is required to maintain or restore the value for the primary process. Age and function of the building largely determine the maintenance strategy. With the exception of calamities and failures, maintenance is structured and executed in an integrated manner, using the natural moment as much as possible to add value and quality to the building up to the requested sustainable level. 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 with a longer technical and economic service life and lower operating costs possible and prefers sustainable options. Management based on the TCO is particularly suitable for CRE organizations such as VU Amsterdam that combine ownership, maintenance and use over long periods of time.

    Over the past decade, the VU campus transformation has included the following new construction and replacement construction projects:

    • OZW-building (2006)
    • Campus Café (2008)
    • The ACTA building (Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam) (2010)
    • Initium building (2011)
    • Westflank VUmc (2013)
    • Main Building (2016)
    • O|2 Lab building (2016)

    The following projects are scheduled for completion in the coming years:

    • New University Building (NU.VU; 2019)
    • MF building (2019)
    • VUmc Imaging Center (2019)
    • Research and Diagnostics / ADORE VUmc (2020)
    • VU Research building (2022)
    • Demolition W&N building (W&N) (late 2023)

    Until 2030, the following developments may also take place on the VU campus:

    • New construction for alliances and market participants (location former school garden allotments)
    • New construction project living on campus
    • New construction on location plot C

    In the longer term (2030 and beyond), the transformation process will start to focus on additional construction or the redevelopment of existing buildings including the VU Main Building, the Transitorium and the VUmc/UMC alliance outpatient clinic, or replacement new-build and additional developments by third parties

  • Points of contact

    Clear responsibilities and points of contact

    • Executive Board member Marcel Nollen’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.
    • Franc van Nunen, 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 students assistants, a number of students and employees also volunteer for a large number of Green Office projects and campaigns.