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Sustainable operations and campuses

The University of Luxembourg carries the vision of being a world-class university making a decisive contribution to a sustainable and inclusive Luxembourg. Sustainability is at the heart of the strategic framework that the University adopted in 2021 and nourishes its three missions of research, teaching and societal impact. Excellence in sustainable development implies becoming a university that is sustainable in all its aspects, including in its operational and functional processes.

In coherence with its three missions, the University is aiming to be in its culture, its operations and its campuses, a living and working place that is respectful, open and responsible for its students, employees and partners. The operational sustainability at the University proposes to establish the institution’ contributions to the national and European roadmaps towards a climate-neutral and resource efficient development. Improving the operational efficiency of the Institution, engaging its driving forces into transformative projects and strengthening its territorial anchoring are also major objectives of this initiative.

The operational sustainability initiative at the University combines

  • A long-term vision of continuous and transformative improvement of economic, societal and environmental performances in the way the institution functions and operates its activities and resources; and
  • Short and medium-term concrete activities to mobilize the community and meet its urgent and essential needs.

Operational sustainability involves the whole university. Primarily, it seeks to support operational departments and administrative functions so that they include sustainability in their decision-making and the evaluation of their actions, right down to the definition of their process. Particular care is also taken to dialogue with academic staff to co-construct operational sustainability activities on campus: the expertise of our researchers is made available to these projects. Dialogue with the student community is also vital to connect their expectations to institutional actions: a university is only sustainable if it allows its students to work for the transformation of their place of study and to put into practice their acquired skills in university educational programs to the benefit of sustainability projects.

The University has identified six priority areas for the development of its operational sustainability, constituting a compass for the development of activities and projects in this area.

 

The main objectives of these axes are:

Greenhouse gas analysis

The University has completed in 2022 the analysis of the GHG emissions of its activities related to the year 2019 (most recent pre-covid year).

Based on GHG Protocol and Bilan Carbone frameworks, the analysis covers scope 1 (direct GHG emissions from sources owned or controlled by the University, such as combustion of gas for heating or fuels for owned vehicles), scope 2 (indirect GHG emissions from the generation of purchased energy, such as electricity, steam, heat and cooling) and scope 3 (all other indirect GHG emissions that occur in the value chain of the University, including both upstream [travel, commuting, waste, purchase goods and services, capital goods…] and downstream [investments, use and end-of-life of sold products…] emissions), at the exception of waste (only waste water was analyzed) and student mobility abroad (only activities funded by grants were included).

The emission report is being validated by the University’s governing bodies and will be soon published. 

Responsible events

The events, through the activities mobilized and sustainability themes addressed, may appear on a small scale as the reflection of a simple organization in operation. In addition, the interruption during Covid-19 of events, dissemination and networking activities was an opportunity to look at the environmental and social impacts that such activities generate.

A working group has been working on the creation of a document for the attention of the organizers of events and conferences at the University. This document, presented in the form of a questionnaire or a checklist, aims to help the organizer make conscious choices in order to make their event as sustainable as desired. By providing for each question asked tips and solutions contextualized to the University environment and the Grand Duchy, this guide allows the organizer to identify sustainable answers to the major activities and categories of an event.

This checklist is presented with pre-defined sustainability commitments, used as entry points to the document, to facilitate the identification of the topics relevant to the organizer and the navigation through the checklist. Selecting a sustainability commitment, such as “promote local sustainable solutions” or “Responsible consumption and waste reduction” will allow the organizer to immediately get access to the questions and related tips and solution relevant to comply with his/her commitment.

The 10 main principles for a responsible event at the University are described below.

 

Donation

The University, through its activities, is a major purchaser of equipment and furniture. In order to extend the life of this material outside the institution and to add a societal impact by collaborating with local associations and NGOs, the University is progressively putting in place on the one hand various processes of identification of the equipment likely to be donated and on the other hand a simple and fast procedure for signing contracts and executing the donation.

In addition to working with local and recognized associations and NGOs, the University imposes as a prerequisite the acceptance of the equipment in its current state by the recipient, who will also be responsible for its removal and transportation.

Recently, furniture for university residences (complete furniture for 25 rooms and 33 beds) and 110 desktops from ITC teaching rooms were donated to a dozen organizations.

Please contact UniLu.Sustainability@uni.lu for more details.

Mobility

Daily travel to the University's campuses to study or work is a major contributor to the University's greenhouse gas emissions. Travelling by car causes environmental pollution, overuse of road capacity, and can lead to stressful situations.

Since 1 March 2020, all public transport in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is free of charge. The University continues to support the increased use of public transport by allowing cross-border users to benefit from advantageous fares in their country of residence.

In 2022, the University partnered with the French company Klaxit, which provides the entire University community with a car-pooling platform. This application connects students, University staff and other travellers to share a car and a journey to or from one of the University's campuses or addresses. This sustainable solution, which aims to reduce car-soloing and the number of cars on the road at peak times, is also economical by sharing the costs of the journey.

For short distances and journeys in the cities of Esch-sur-Alzette or Luxembourg, the bicycle is the most efficient solution in terms of time and speed. The University wishes to make this solution more popular and easier to use and is studying several projects to install sheltered bicycle parking for students and staff on the Belval, Kirchberg and Limpertsberg campuses.

Moving easily between campuses with a high degree of flexibility to support staff mobility is another focus of the University. To this end, it provides 9 city cars for professional use (intercampus trips, external meetings within Luxembourg and neighbouring countries, etc.) during working hours and for private use on evenings and weekends.

Mobility and transport are managed within the Infrastructure Department of the University

Communication and awareness

Putting sustainability on the agenda and raising the awareness of the University community about the need for ecological transition in the world is a major focus of the University's Sustainability Officer activities.

Sustainability LunchTalk series

The news talk about global warming, fair ecological and energy transitions, social justice, the circular economy and sustainable finance. The mass of information is confusing.

To cut through the noise and to reinforce the internal dialogue and commitment for sustainable and societal development, the University of Luxembourg has launched a new LunchTalk series devoted to sustainability. 

These LunchTalks show the University's commitment to share information and raise awareness on the very diverse themes of sustainability. So that all members of the University community can - individually and collectively - contribute to a sustainable way of life in Luxembourg.

The Sustainability LunchTalks are for everyone, staff and students alike, committed or not. Their main objective is to restore the facts in the mass of information that is about sustainability. This is why the University invites recognized researchers in a short and interactive format on the contributions of science to the questions it wishes to address.

Sustainability letters

With the help of students involved in sustainability communication, the University has launched an internal newsletter to put sustainability on the agenda and talk about the University in the same context.

As sustainability is a complex, diffuse and controversial topic, the Sustainability Letter makes it easy for everyone to both understand and speak the “language of sustainability”.

It also highlights collective and individual initiatives by staff and students and discuss them and their applicability in a University’s department, a lab or even at home.

Contact

Laurent Betry