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Sustainability on campus

At the University of Vechta, sustainability is a central topic in different areas and for different people. Through their commitment, the idea of sustainable development is becoming more and more apparent in the practical everyday life on campus. Some examples can be found on this page.

Ecological management

“Grüner beschaffen” (greener procurement)

The label “Grüner beschaffen – reyclingpapierfreundliche Universität” (Greener procurement – Recycling-paper-friendly university) stands for environmentally friendly and resource-efficient actions in everyday life. By using recycled paper, natural resources such as wood and water, and a variety of others can be saved. For example, the production of recycled paper can save at least 60% in energy and water compared to the production of conventional paper. 

The University of Vechta uses 100% recycled paper certified by the Blue Angel. The Initiative Pro Recyclingpapier (IPR) (initiative for recycling paper), a cooperation with the Competence Centre for Sustainable Procurement of the Federal Ministry of the Interior and the German Environment Agency, therefore awarded the University of Vechta for the first time in 2015. Since 2016, the university has successfully participated every year in the Papieratlas (Paper Atlas) competition organised by the IPR, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, the German Environment Agency and the German Association of University Professors and Lecturers.

In order to reduce paper consumption in general, double-sided printing was introduced as the default setting on the printer drivers when the leased multifunction devices were replaced at the end of 2019.

Green IT

The University of Vechta also takes sustainability into account when selecting its hardware. At the end of 2019, 38 new multifunction devices for printing, copying and scanning by Kyocera were leased through IBS. The toners used in them are CO2-neutral and certified by myClimate: The amount of CO2 emissions generated during raw material generation, production, packaging, transport and recycling of the toners is offset by the supplier Kyocera in its own climate protection project in Kenya. In the period from June 2016 to May 2017, 2.15 tonnes of CO2 were offset for the University of Vechta. It is also avoided to place the devices inside the offices so that the indoor air is not polluted with fine dust and ozone, which could affect the health of the employees.

The new IT equipment used at the university, such as PCs and monitors, are also exemplary for “Green IT”: Since 2011, the university has been using so-called mini PCs for the computer workstations. The laptop technology used in these PCs, as well as the TFT monitors used at the University of Vechta, are certified with the EU Energy Star 6.0 and thus the PCs have a significantly lower power requirement than conventional desktop PCs. Energy efficiency is always an important decision criterion in IT tenders. The devices have a minimum service life of five years and are properly recycled by external service providers after use.

Resource efficiency through digitalisation

The task force “Digitalisierung in der Lehre” (Digitalisation in teaching) deals with the introduction and widespread use of digital tools in teaching. This supports efforts to increase the use of e-learning tools in synchronous and asynchronous teaching so that students and lecturers can also attend courses from home and thus avoid emissions for travelling to and from the university. The same applies to various IT tools that also enable working from home, such as various cloud solutions for data exchange and collaborative editing of documents or tools for accessing special software such as SAP or HIS products (HIS = Hochschul-Informations-System = higher education information system). Another component is a specific web conferencing system (BigBlueButton) for online teaching, conferences, committee meetings or work meetings. All these tools have proven their worth during the Coronavirus pandemic and have enabled a largely online university operation. Also for sustainability reasons, these tools should continue to be used even after the crisis will have been successfully overcome, wherever they make sense and complement on-campus operation.

Digitalisation is also advancing in the University Library. Eight book scanners have been available for students and staff since 2013. The simple, fast and free use as well as the flawless scanning results are an incentive for users to avoid unnecessary printed copies. An option that has been used a lot since then: In the first six years, 1.5 million digital copies have already been made with book scanners.

Renting an e-bike

The University of Vechta intends to become more sustainable in research, teaching and on campus. The expansion of electric mobility is another measure that is to have a positive impact on daily life on campus and at the other university locations in town. Thanks to the support of the Oldenburgische Landesbank AG (OLB), the University of Vechta was able to purchase its first electric bike, which is to be the first vehicle of an e-fleet.

“The city of Vechta is growing, and with it the requirements for mobility”, says Prof. Dr Burghart Schmidt, President of the University of Vechta. “Our university adds to the strain on the infrastructure with over 5,300 students and around 500 employees at seven locations in town. In order to contribute to sustainable development, we want to focus more on electric mobility in the future in order to reduce short trips by car, which are questionable from a traffic-related and environmental point of view. The OLB is a strong partner who is actively supporting us in taking the first step in this direction.”

The e-bike will initially be available to employees of the University of Vechta. Employees can find more information on borrowing the e-bike here (intranet).

Social aspects

Family-friendly university

The University of Vechta has been participating in the “audit family-friendly university” since 2012 and was certified in 2013. The university commits to integrating the compatibility of studies, work and family in a lasting manner and to facilitating this with corresponding activities and measures. More

Equal opportunities

In recent years, the topic of equal opportunities has gained a lot of momentum at the University of Vechta. A variety of offers is to do justice to and further promote the diversity of the affiliates of the university. The common goal is to provide equal opportunities for people at the university, regardless of their gender, age, sexual identity, religion and belief, ethnic and social origin, and any disability or chronic health conditions. These interests are converged at the Central Institution for Equality & Diversity, but it takes the participation of many to ensure equal opportunities in all areas and situations in an institution.

Student engagement

Waste prevention and resource conservation made easy

Through several student projects and initiatives, the University of Vechta is working towards a more conscious use of food and other consumer goods and resources by affiliates of the university.

For example, the student group Studentenfutter had a refrigerator and a little storage space set up in the cafeteria (Cafete) in building R of the university, where students and staff can put food that they do not like or need and make it available for others.

Also in building R is a “givebox” (cupboard) that works on the same principle, but is intended for things like clothes, decorative items or books. The cupboard was built and installed by a group of students as part of a project seminar.

The Gemüserausch initiative was founded to give students and staff at the University of Vechta direct access to organic regional fruit and vegetables. The students involved have established a close cooperation with the farmers of the nearby Wilhelminenhof and have organised a central pick-up point on campus for the weekly fruit and vegetable delivery from the farm, which follows the principles of community-supported agriculture (Solidarische Landwirtschaft = Solawi). If you are interested or have any questions, the students can be contacted via gemueserausch[at]uni-vechta[dot]de.

The Vechta local group of the association Viva con Agua campaigns for economical water use through various activities at the University of Vechta and collects donations that benefit the association’s projects in countries of the global South.

Tips and tricks for more sustainability in everyday (university) life

The Vechta local group of the association sneep (student network for ethics in economics and practice) was involved in various projects for sustainable development at the University of Vechta and was a member of the task force “Sustainable University”. Unfortunately, the group no longer exists.

An important project of the former sneep local group Vechta is the sustainability booklet 2017 (in German). In this informative booklet, students of the University of Vechta and, of course, all other interested persons can learn which small and larger actions and decisions they can take to make their everyday life more sustainable and what they should pay attention to in doing so. Take a look!

In 2018, under the motto DENK MIT! (Think about it!), a group of students compiled helpful tips as part of the seminar “Nachhaltige Hochschulentwicklung – die Transformation der Universität Vechta gestalten” (Sustainable university development – shaping the transformation of the University of Vechta) that make it easier to work, learn and live on campus in a way that saves resources. Learn more here.

Bildnachweise: Ökologisch Wirtschaften: Initiative Pro Recyclingpapier; E-Bike-Ausleihe: Bild: Universität Vechta/Daubenspeck; Chancengerechtigkeit: ZEGD Universität Vechta; Studentisches Engagement: Nachhaltigkeitsguide & Logo: Initiative Sneep 2017; Bilder unten: Universität Vechta/Meckel, Universität Vechta/