Utrecht University is working towards a better world and therefore also towards a sustainable university. The university wants to be climate-neutral in 2030, which means it needs to reduce its CO2 emissions. We are contributing to this goal by making less and more sustainable travel the norm, offering safe and high-quality digital education and facilitating the possibility of remote collaboration.
On the right track - sustainable travel
In 2019, business travel accounted for 11 percent of the university's annual carbon emissions. During the corona pandemic, partly thanks to new and improved digital solutions, we learned that we can also collaborate differently, remotely and across borders. To maintain this development, UU has reformulated its travel policy. For destinations less than 700 kilometres, flying is only an option in exceptional situations and after approval from your supervisor.
The sustainable travel campaign 'Right on track' gives employees tools to travel less, more sustainably and more efficiently. On uu.nl/rightontrack employees can find information about the travel policy, inspiring travel stories from colleagues and answers to frequently asked questions.
Tools to travel less or more sustainably
In order to continue to support our education and research as good as possible, our university has recently invested in making education and meeting rooms suitable for virtual meetings and developing audiovisual studios. If employees do have to travel, there are also alternatives to the plane. The UU train check helps employees in the selection process for a (more) sustainable trip. And the train zone map shows an overview of which European destinations can be easily reached by train.
The international train is quiet and comfortable so I can work wonderfully undisturbed.
Travel Green Grant for students
UU students who have been selected for an exchange programme at a European (partner) university can apply for the Travel Green Grant and possibly receive a (partial) refund of their travel expenses by train. The number of participants is limited. Read more about the conditions and application procedure here.
Utrecht University compensates all air travel-related CO2 impacts by contributing to projects that meet the strictest standard for CO2 reduction (Gold Standard). For this goal, the university works together with the Climate Neutral Group.
In 2018, the first electric car in university colours drove across campus. Now, the entire fleet of the Facility Service Centre is electric. Within a few years, the university will make its entire fleet electric. In total, the university has about forty cars driving around for research, security, first aid and transport. There is also the opportunity to come by electric car. The university has special parking spaces for electric cars, and there are charging stations all over campus. Employees can also borrow an electric car for appointments off campus that are difficult to reach by public transport.
With the living lab Smart Solar Charging, the university stores locally generated solar energy in electric cars via smart charging stations. Both the charging station and the car battery are 'smart', which means they can charge and discharge. If the sun does not shine for a while, the fully charged car battery can supply solar energy back to the electricity grid (and thus supply a home or building with electricity). This way of generating, storing and delivering energy creates flexible storage capacity that reduces peaks on the electricity grid. Read more about the project here.
On the bike
More than half of the students and employees of Utrecht University come by bicycle. That's about 20,000 cyclists. The university's parking policy is specifically aimed at making the Utrecht Science Park car-free. The university has multiple measures to stimulate employees to come by public transport or by bicycle.
The corona pandemic has accelerated the development of digital resources for qualitative and safe education. This shift offers new insights and opportunities for education across the boundaries of campuses, buildings, and countries. That is why the university has invested in the development of digital resources that make online education possible.