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UG eleventh in global ranking of green universities

15 December 2017

The University of Groningen (UG) has climbed four places in the latest Green Metric to take eleventh place. The list of the greenest universities in the world grew this year to include over 600 universities. For the first time a Dutch university has taken first place: Wageningen University & Research. Groningen and Wageningen are the highest of the participating Dutch universities.

The UI Green Metric ranking was initiated by Universitas Indonesia to encourage universities to consider sustainability in their policies. This year 619 universities from 76 countries took part. For each, the following criteria were considered: ‘setting and infrastructure’, ‘energy and climate change’, ‘waste’, ‘water’, ‘transportation’ and ‘education’.

Green Metric Logo

Recent UG rankings

The UG has been working for some time to improve the environmental sustainability of not only its research and teaching but also its business operations ( Green Office ) and renovation and building projects. This is reflected in its recent Green Metric rankings.

Year

Ranking

Number of participating universities

2017

11

619

2016

15

516

2015

12

407

2014

49

361


Sustainable yet amber according to Greenpeace?

Greenpeace recently investigated the provenance of the electricity used by the Dutch universities. The UG was rated ‘amber’ on a scale of green-yellow-amber-red. In the Green Metric, this is reflected in the somewhat lower score for ‘energy and climate change’. Disappointing, but at the same time affirmation of the importance of the UG sustainability plans, such as the aim to be CO2 neutral by 2020 to ensure that we contribute as little as possible to climate change.

The Greenpeace verdict mainly pertains to energy procurement. As a corporate energy buyer, the UG purchases Guarantees of Origin (GOs), electronic green energy certificates that show how the energy was produced. One GO is equal to one thousand kWh of electricity and guarantees that the electricity was generated sustainably somewhere in Europe, so from the sun, wind, water or biomass (here: hydropower in Norway). GOs from abroad are often considered less green, because they do not contribute to the production of green energy in the Netherlands. The UG has therefore decided that per year it will convert 25% of its GOs for electricity generated abroad into GOs for electricity generated in the Netherlands. We will thus directly stimulate the local production of clean green energy.

Solar panels

Vice President of the Board of the University Jan de Jeu explains some of the measures taken by the UG: ‘Already in 2016, 15% of our total energy needs was met by our own renewable power sources, such as solar panels, underground thermal energy storage and a wind turbine. And in 2017 we reached two important milestones: the completion of the greenest teaching building in Europe, the Energy Academy Europe, and the completion of a new solar farm on the Zernike Campus boasting 1700 solar panels. The road to a climate-neutral and sustainable university does not end here, as the following goals from our Roadmap on Sustainability 2015 - 2020 show:

  • at least 30% improvement in energy efficiency by 2020 compared with 2005 ;
  • at least 25% of energy produced by our own renewable sources by 2020, e.g. over 2000 solar panels on the roofs of various buildings on the Zernike Campus
  • choose Dutch GOs in next energy tender
  • reduce water consumption to below the level of 2008 by 2020;
  • reduce total waste produced by 15% by 2020 compared with 2005
  • separate at least 70% of waste by 2020;
  • wherever possible, BREEAM Excellent will be the norm for new building and renovation projects; the Energy Academy Europe is BREEAM Outstanding (highest possible award)
  • compensate for flights with sustainable projects.’
Last modified:10 September 2021 2.52 p.m.
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