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 encouraging staff and students to travel less and more sustainably, by consciously considering whether a journey is really necessary and by facilitating safe and high-quality digital education and the possibility of remote collaboration.
The corona pandemic has had a major impact on the travel behaviour of university staff and students. By 2020, work related plane travels by employees decreased by 72% compared to the 2019 benchmark year. The university aims to keep this figure as low as possible after the pandemic.
With the Train Zone, Utrecht University encourages its employees to travel by train within Europe. This way employees avoid flying and cut CO2 emissions. The university has developed the train zone map to support the decision-making process. This map shows which European destinations are easy to reach by train. Employees are responsible for following this travel advice.
The international train is quiet and comfortable so I can work wonderfully undisturbed.
Sustainable travel also means consciously thinking about whether a trip is really necessary. Perhaps a digital alternative is possible. The travel check helps to make this decision.
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 the 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 with electricity). This way of generating, storing and delivering energy back 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's own parking fee encourages employees to come by public transport or by bicycle.
To encourage travelling by bicycle, the university has an expense reimbursement scheme for all employees for the purchase and use of an (electric) bicycle for commuting.
Bus becomes electric tram
From the end of December 2019, a tram line will run from Utrecht Central Station to the Utrecht Science Park. The trams run on green electricity.
Green travel compensation
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. 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).
Remote education and collaboration
The corona pandemic has had a major impact on the way we work and has accelerated the development of digital tools that support high-quality, secure teaching and remote collaboration. This shift offers new insights and opportunities for our collaboration across campuses, buildings, or countries, with our internal and external audiences. Even after the corona pandemic, hybrid working will remain the norm. Therefore, the university has invested heavily in the development of digital tools that enable remote teaching and collaboration.