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New radical plan: University of Copenhagen emissions will be cut by 65 pct

The University of Copenhagen will aim for a massive 65 per cent cut in CO2 emissions, a 50 per cent cut in energy consumption, and a 20 per cent cut in waste

A new drive – to be implemented within the next five years – will seriously accelerate the University of Copenhagen’s sustainability focus. This is according to the latest green strategy update.

In the previous plan ending 2013, the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) aimed for 20 per cent, ending up achieving a 28.8 per cent reduction. In this, the newest one, it will cut a huge 65 per cent off CO2 emissions, and 50 per cent cut in energy consumption, with waste down 20 per cent.

To the University Post the Green Campus team leader Tomas Refslund Poulsen explains that ”laboratories are our main focus, because ventilation and equipment are very energy-consuming, a lot of chemicals are used here, and have important safety aspects as well.” But there will be other initiatives, he adds:

‘”There’s not just one answer. We’re going to widen the scope moving from a more narrow energy and climate focus to address more sustainability aspects like resources, waste and water – and the sustainability culture. And we will build on experiences from the previous strategy with campaigns on behavior and energy management, especially in laboratory buildings.”

You can read the new Green Campus 2020 strategy here (in Danish).

Wants people to choose sustainable food

In the new strategy, ”we will engage with humanistic disciplines to look at the cultural perception of sustainability (within the humanistic disciplines) in order to find out why people do or don’t behave in a more sustainable way,” says Tomas Refslund Poulsen, adding that “we would like to further develop which ways we should try to promote sustainable behavior. Nudging is an approach we offer our Green Ambassadors to learn and use,” he says.

The new wider strategy beyond energy will bring ‘sustainability’ into areas previously not affected by the plan.

“Food is one of the key challenges. For example, at Frederiksberg campus we have strong research on sustainable food. We will try link researchers, students and canteens to develop and promote sustainable meals at UCPH. This includes ways to advise people at the canteen to choose sustainable foods,” says Tomas Refslund Poulsen of Green Campus.

Plan to gain ownership of buildings

Rector Ralf Hemmingsen says that the main task of the university is to carry out world-class research and teaching.

“But we also have a responsibility to ensure that we do so with ever-decreasing environmental impact. Fortunately, energy and resource efficiency often results in financial savings thereby freeing up resources for the University’s core activities,” he says.

By reducing energy consumption the university hopes to save DKK 35 million every year. These savings will be invested in research and education at those faculties that save the energy.

Rector Hemmingsen stresses that UCPH would have better opportunities to improve resource efficiency if it had full responsibility for their buildings that are currently rented from the Danish Building and Property Agency. The university is currenty trying to figure out how to acquire ownership of the buildings by talking with the Ministry of Higher Education and Science it says. If UCPH succeeds, a freehold of the buildings will make it easier to meet the various requirements for the facilities.

Students will be involved

Students will be able to take part in creating new solutions for sustainability. That includes promoting energy-efficient habits, improving recycling and developing more sustainable canteen meals.

”Staff and students should experience the daily benefits of a sustainably run university and have lots of opportunities to help realise the Green Campus 2020 strategy. Knowledge and new solutions are key to making everyday life more sustainable at the University,” says Tomas Refslund Poulsen.

A 2013 survey showed that nine out of ten UCPH students and staff support the setting aside of ressources for energy-saving and sustainability.

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