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2022 Sustainability Report: Fewer CO2 emissions and greener operational management

The University's CO2 footprint has once again decreased. This is the conclusion of the 2022 Sustainability Report. The report also concludes that steps have been taken to integrate sustainability into Leiden University education and research.

Leiden University is aware of its role in society and wishes to contribute to a green, healthy, and inclusive campus. That is why, in 2022, we joined forces with our staff and students and took steps to concretely implement our future-proof Sustainability Vision for 2030. Our most important goals are: sustainability in our teaching and research, more waste reduction and separation, reducing our electricity and natural gas consumption, and reducing air travel by members of the academic community. The University believes it is important to be transparent about the results of its policy, and reports on this annually in its sustainability report (only available online).

Sustainable education and research

The number of study programmes and courses with attention for sustainability has increased in 2022. One project that brought together teaching, sustainability and citizen science was the Leiden Municipality Challenge: for six months, students worked with Leiden residents to explore how to make the city even more sustainable. In the context of the Global Challenges, Local Actions project of Leiden University College The Hague, we also worked on creating teaching material on sustainability for lecturers. That way, they do not need to delve into the specialised literature themselves in order to integrate this theme into their teaching.

Sometimes, science thrives best when diverse disciplines join forces. Over the past few years, sustainability research at Leiden University has also become strongly clustered, with partnerships both within and beyond the University. One example is the REEsilience project, launched in 2022, in which an international team is working on making Europe self-sufficient when it comes to the raw materials required to produce magnets. In addition, the HiddenBiodiversity partnership was launched, with its focus on ‘invisible nature’ in the city, such as fungi, bacteria, moss, lichen, and other organisms. In the Hague, the first Buurtlab 070 project, in which researchers and residents work together to devise solutions for sustainable living in the neighbourhood, has produced excellent results.

But for research to be truly sustainable, that research must also be conducted in a sustainable way. That is why in 2022, we launched the Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) pilot. The LEAF programme offers laboratories toolkits for measuring their CO2 reduction, training programmes on sustainability in the workplace, and tools for a more sustainable approach to aspects like waste, energy, water, and equipment.

Sustainable campus

The University is also taking responsibility for its own business operations, by complying with the objectives of the climate agreement for 2030 and 2050, and by taking clear steps to reduce the organisation's environmental impact. In 2022 this led among other things to generating more of our own energy with the more than 3,400 solar panels on the University's roofs, and installing thermal storage units, so that we will no longer need natural gas to heat our buildings in future. We also took sustainable steps in our catering, with less packaging material in the University restaurants, and by introducing the sustainable Billie Cup in the cafés.

If you would you like to know more, you can find the 2022 Sustainability Report here (in Dutch).

Banner: andreas160578 via Pixabay

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