RUG’s efforts for green campus
The importance of the issue regarding environmental sustainability surfaced in RUG in 1969 as the university began collecting all the figures related to the field such as energy, waste and water. The measurements and numbers allow the university to keep track of its work and see if it is doing a good job. For instance, while the number of students grew 62 percent compared to 1969, the energy usage increased less than 30 percent, showing good management in terms of energy consumption.
RUG has numerous environment-friendly facilities on campus as well. The university separates its waste into 28 different categories, uses energy-saving LED lights and utilizes sustainable methods when cooling or heating buildings.
“Six years ago we started a project to save warmth at the underground of the building,” explained Dick Jager, an environmentalist who manages sustainability in RUG. “We drill a hole underground and pump up cold water to cool the building in the summer. The water is heated in the building so we pump it back in to the ground and later use it in the winter to warm up the building again. We found out that we saved 52 thousand tons of Carbon Dioxide as a result of this project. We saved about 50 percent of the energy as well.”
Moreover, there is an organization in RUG named “Sustainable Society” which serves as a focal point for interdisciplinary work within RUG. The organization is dedicated to developing university-wide research on the topic of environmental sustainability in society.
“The universities build the environment to study long-term scenarios and to have the ability to look back and reflect on what has already been done,” remarked Sharon Smit, the Managing Director of Sustainable Society. “So it is a very important aspect in our Sustainable Society program that we really have interdisciplinary research agenda in order to have a better balance to know a bit more on how to solve this complex issue.”
When discussing sustainability on campus, RUG not only cares about the nature and environment but also the people.
“We also consider the people part about sustainability,” Jager said. “We try to keep our employees healthy and we have special programs for people to keep healthy. They can check up on their health and we also provide them with lots of sports.”