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2. The Sustainable Campus

In 2020, the Campus & Facilities division further honed its ambitions for a more sustainable campus. In the restaurants, sustainably produced food is the starting point, without food waste. Furthermore, the university strives for an overall reduction of paper and rubbish, clean and safe transport, smart and innovative use of space, healthy and vital staff and students, energy-neutral operations and a green campus that is rich in biodiversity.

Sustainable and Healthy Selection

The Campus & Facilities division’s work group on sustainability published a memorandum in 2020 that also looked at food. The proportion of vegetarian and vegan products will grow to at least 80% in the coming years. The meat supply will become sustainable, which also entails a step-by-step reduction. The catering business will use a vegetarian (vegan) range as its starting point.

Work group member Vincent Barendregt points out that the university is a role model. “Through our choices and our range of products, we want to make students and staff members aware of the environmental impact of our current selection. We strive to offer the most sustainable products possible, taking into account people and the environment.” Together with students, a study was also started to investigate the difference between a vegetarian and a ‘normal’ hamburger (as sold in the Refter). A comparative study of disposable and porcelain dishes is in the works.

‘We strive to offer the most sustainable products possible in our restaurants’

- Vincent Barendregt

A Green and Car-Free Campus

The ‘Sustainable accessibility to Heyendaal’ project group has outlined the framework for a better traffic flow. The idea of the advisory report prepared by Goudappel Coffeng is as follows: no car traffic on Heyendaalseweg from the Huygens building on, and car traffic on Erasmuslaan only between the St. Annastraat and the Grotius building (as the entrance to the parking garage). The rest of the street is intended for cyclists, buses and emergency services. In the next few years, car use around campus during rush hours must be reduced by 20%.

The question of whether to have buses run in one or two directions on Erasmuslaan is still under consideration. “The less asphalt there is, the more green we get,” says Carlo Buise of the Department of Occupational Health and Safety and Environmental Service. “Ideally, we’d like to have a park that a bus runs through.”

Flexible parking tariffs, encouraging the use of (electric) bicycles and working more often from home should also contribute to reducing car use. Since the beginning of 2020, a pilot project has been running with employees of the university and Radboud university medical center. Participants are using MaaS, an app for planning, booking and paying for business trips. Shared cars are also provided for business trips to destinations that are difficult to reach by public transport or e-bike.

In line with these plans, Radboud University, in its role as a ‘cycling ambassador’, initiated the ‘Higher Education Cycling Mission’ at the end of 2020. In the presence of State Secretary Stientje van Veldhoven and administrators from 14 higher education institutions, the university expressed the ambition to have 10% more staff members cycling after the pandemic than before.

In 2020, we started to create more space for nature and biodiversity on campus. The biodiversity focus group has done years of preliminary work, with participation from scientists, students, staff members and local residents. The aim is that the restoration of biodiversity will guide the development and management of the campus over the next ten years.

Mode of transport (commuting)

2020

2016

2009

Only by car

15%

17%

22%

Bus

4%

2%

4%

Bicycle*

64%

61%

56%

Walking

3%

2%

2%

Motorcycle

0.1%

1%

1%

Carpooling

0.2%

2%

3%

Train

14%

15%

12%

  • * Including e-bikes, 12% in 2016 and 8% in 2020

Sustainable Energy Policy

More and more buildings are connected to the hybrid energy network (HEN), which heats buildings using an aquifer thermal energy storage system. HEN was established in 2019, and the Erasmus building was connected to it that year. This was followed in 2020 by connections to Thomas van Aquinostraat 1, the University Library, the Spinoza building and the Lecture Hall Complex. The Maria Montessori building is also equipped with sustainable energy. The network is fed by thermal storage sources on campus, excess heat from other buildings, and the HFML magnet lab. This process is depicted in an instructional film. The first measurements in 2020 showed annual gas savings of 660,000m3, 24% less than the previous year. This reduction – a record – is mainly due to HEN.

Given the limited possibilities for generating green energy on campus, the university and Radboud university medical center have entered into an agreement with Eneco for the supply of sustainable energy through a new wind farm. From 2021 onwards, the university will use 100% additional green electricity (generated especially for the university); in 2020, separate green certificates were purchased for the last time. For more information about activities and consumption, see the 2020 Annual Energy Report.

Circularity

The university started an ambitious ‘circular’ policy plan in 2020, which will be developed from 2021 onwards. Steps were already taken at Radboud university medical center in 2020, such as the circular warehouse: the free collection of furniture that becomes redundant, which is offered to other departments for a small fee. Thanks to its success, this warehouse will be expanded in 2021. The conversion of Comeniuslaan 6 into a digital testing facility was also partly characterised by circularity: the furniture and fittings were largely retained. Furthermore, projects have been started for circular procurement and circular replacement of lighting in the University Library.

The Technical Program of Requirements for Campus & Facilities (TPvE), which was completed in 2020, includes requirements for energy and material use (i.e. circularity) for the first time. In the case of products, for example, this involves strict requirements for use and reuse; in the case of buildings, it involves the adoption of circular design principles. The TPvE is the standard document for every building or renovation project on campus.

Radboud Green Office

In 2020, the Radboud Green Office (RGO) continued to support students and staff with sustainability in education, research, patient care and business operations. One focal point of the RGO was the reduction of air travel. The RGO has set up a focus group to search for sustainable alternatives.

Teun Bousema is a focus group member, a malaria researcher at Radboud university medical center, and one of the authors of a scientific study (from 2020) on the environmental impact of conferences. It determined that the 5,000 visitors to a conference of tropical doctors and researchers had flown a collective 44 million kilometres, or 58 return flights to the moon. A radiologists’ conference was ten times larger. “As a scientist, I feel extremely uncomfortable with the environmental impact of these large conferences. If even we as scientists do not take the climate crisis seriously by changing our behaviour, it’s hard to expect the rest of society to do so.”

 ‘As a scientist, I feel very uncomfortable with the environmental impact of these large conferences’

- Teun Bousema

Partly based on the RGO recommendation, a policy on business air travel was drawn up in 2020. The policy aims to reduce the amount of air travel and its impact.