Science and education require energy in the forms of electricity, warmth and coldness, now and in the future. The energy use of Utrecht University is high and causes by far the most CO2 exhaust produced by Utrecht University


In the Strategic Plan 2020-2025, sustainable development takes centre stage. In it, the university focuses on specific Sustainable Development Goals, specifically those related to circularity, biodiversity and climate neutrality. Utrecht University wants to contribute maximally to solving the climate problem. It strives for a future-proof energy provision that will be CO2 neutral in 2030. The strategic and functional frameworks for this are described in the Real Estate Strategy 2021. This is how Utrecht University works towards a climate-neutral operational management, a green campus where science and education are front and centre.

Energy strategy: Trias Energetica

In order to be CO2 neutral in 2030, Utrecht University bets big on energy conservation by making the buildings more sustainable and (preferably) generate sustainable energy ourselves. Besides that, Utrecht University uses fossil fuels optimally for as long as this is needed. This chosen integral energy strategy is a direct result of the Trias Energetica:

- conserving energy
- transition towards sustainable energy
- optimal use of fossil fuels 


Zonnepanelen op dak van gebouw
Solar Panels on the roof of W.C. Schimmel building. Photographer: Dick Boetekees.

Collaboration in Utrecht Science Park

Utrecht Science Park has been designated by the Dutch national government as a gasless neighborhood for 2040, in consultation with the municipality of Utrecht. Within this framework, Utrecht University collaborates with the municipality of Utrecht and its USP partners (including the UMC Utrecht, HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht and student housing organisation SSH) for various research projects. For instance, the university investigates collective thermal storage and investigates together with the UMC how to handle the expected increasing demand for electricity connections that is expected to already be insufficient in the short run. 

Making space for the generating of sustainable energy

Utrecht University was a co-author for the concept version of the Environmental Vision for Utrecht Science Park of the municipality of Utrecht. This concept vision states that - in order to give the climate ambitions substance - people are looking for space in Utrecht Science Park to generate sustainable energy. In concrete terms, this is about the possibility to realise (one or two) wind parks and solar meadows. It is expected that the municipal council of Utrecht will set the Environmental Vision for Utrecht Science Park in the first quarter of 2022. 


The route is not set

The first steps have been made, but the route towards a future-proof and sustainable energy provision is not set. Among other things, Utrecht University is dealing with the impact of changing (stricter) laws and regulations. The expectation is that this will have much influence on the requirements that will be set for buildings and local sustainable energy sources. On top of that, where currently natural gas, thermal storage and electricity guarantee the energy provision, this is expected to be done by more techniques in combination with buffering and storage in the future. 

Houtwallen in het Utrecht Science Park met op de achtergrond de warmtekrachtcentrale
Wooded banks in USP with the thermal energy plant in the background. Photographer: Dick Boetekees.