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Green campus: More student involvement

The University of Copenhagen has out-performed its CO2 emission goals. Time to look forward, but what's next?

With sustainability targets reached, or close to being reached, the Green Campus group is looking ahead: The project head of the Green Campus initiative Tomas Refslund Poulsen says that they will be working for more collaboration, engagement, and student involvement.

CO2 emissions per person have dropped 24.1 percent since 2006, surpassing a 20 per cent target, while the energy consumption is down by 18.3 percent, just off the 20 per cent target, but closing.

”We really want to become one of the world’s most sustainable universities,” says Tomas Poulsen of Green Campus, ”but, it is an ongoing challenge. We want to be even more ambitious, and facilitate a culture of sustainability around campus.”

Mostly technical so far

According to the Green Campus status report, most of the success so far has been due to technical adjustments, and not just the effort of students and staff.

69 per cent of the energy reduction was, for example, accounted for by technical projects such as improved fume cupboards and ventilation systems in laboratories, increased pipe insulation and LED lighting.

Individual efforts and energy-saving behaviour, only accounted for 13 per cent of the reduction. Poulsen notes that it can be difficult to show vast improvements through sustainable student behaviour, as compared to technological adjustments.

Not enough volunteers

”Our experience is that when we try and get people to focus on more sustainable behaviour, they have trouble at the same time maintaining a broad understanding of what the university is doing,” says Poulsen.

As admitted freely by Green Campus and reported previously on the University Post, , awareness by both students and staff about the Green Campus initiative’s efforts around campus could be improved. Half of the students polled in the report weren’t aware of their existence.

Green Campus has so-called green ambassadors, who set out to promote energy-saving methods around the university departments, but these volunteer positions are some places few and far between, and are mainly filled by university staff. ”There used to be a student organization – but, they were not able to sustain themselves,” Poulsen smiles, his pun intended. Green Campus has 260 green ambassadors, but they are not evenly distributed.

The future: more collaboration

The intention is that a renewed Green Ambassador campaign this coming winter and spring will have good, active student involvement.

”We have also had successful collaborations in the past with students, as well as with student from other schools in the IARU,” says Poulsen, referring to the International Alliance of Research Universities, of which UCPH is a member. There are currently two UCPH students at Oxford university, and one at Yale working on sustainability projects.

”We would also like to address more sustainable food options,” Poulsen suggests, ”this could come right from the university, collaborating with projects like the Nordic Kitchen at Frederiksberg campus.”

Strategy ready in 2014

A new strategy will replace the current goal structure at the beginning of 2014.

Read more about Green Campus 2.0 here.

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