The implementation and communication of sustainability aspects is an important duty of the University of Passau. In doing so, the University, which sees itself as a role model in the context of its social mission, is guided by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The University of Passau took part in the GreenMetric Ranking for the first time in 2021. Ranked in 185th place, the University is among the top 20% of sustainable universities, globally. The GreenMetric Ranking rates universities' holistic approaches to sustainability. The following six themes are used to determine the rating: Setting and Infrastructure, Energy and Climate Change, Waste, Water, Transportation, as well as Education and Research.
The ranking, which is compiled annually by the British university magazine Times Higher Education (THE), is one of the most important university rankings worldwide. The rankings are based on a comparison of 13 different indicators from the areas of research, teaching, knowledge transfer and internationalisation. In the current ranking, the University has secured a place in the top quarter for the fifth time in a row. Press release
"The urban gardening trend has reached Passau and Lower Bavaria. It contributes to the sustainability of food production throughout the world and has considerable future potential as an alternative to large-scale industrial agriculture", says Professor Werner Gamerith, the University Executive's Commissioner for the Cross-Functional Task of Sustainability. You can find out more details about the new demo garden in the press release [German content].
To reduce the mountains of disposable packaging created by the Mensa To Go takeaway scheme, the Student Services Association (Studentenwerk) introduced a reusable system to offer meals in a more environmentally friendly and appetising way. Refectory users have to register for this system once and are then able to take away their meals in borrowed, reusable containers. This is free of charge if the containers are returned within 14 days. Naturally, refectory users can also bring their own containers to the refectory. For further information visit the Student Services Association website.
Good to know: The food containers are made of food-safe plastics and are manufactured in Germany. They are good for up to 1,000 dishwashing cycles and are recycled once they are taken out of service. ORNAMIN, the company that manufactures these sustainable reusable products, collect the old containers and produces equivalent tableware. Munich-based start-up Relevo [German content], the company behind the app of the same name, is as committed to sustainability as it is to data privacy.
The University of Passau puts great emphasis on sustainability, even among its suppliers. For example, since April 2022, the university's stationery supplies are delivered climate-neutrally by our supplier KABUCO. In the tender and supplier selection process, the University specified environmental criteria that products and the suppliers have to adhere to. Among other things, packaging materials must be recycleable and empty toner cartridges must be collected and refurbished by the supplier. The same requirement also applies to office furnishings, where longevity, environmentally friendly materials and recycleability are taken into account. Our suppliers also have to offer assurances that no products were manufactured using child labour.
Since the winter semester 2019–20, the printers in the University's administrative divisions have been using paper certified with the Blue Angel ecolabel. In the medium term, the University will liaise with contract partners such as the Kopierzentrale copy shop to bring about a switch towards using recycled paper even in areas where the University has no direct influence on paper purchasing.
By switching to recycled paper, the University of Passau is making an important contribution to climate protection and resource conservation. Within one year, the University was able to raise the share of Blue Angel ecolabel paper used in its administrative processes by 74.94 percentage points to reach the 100 percent mark, and was therefore named "Rising Star of the Year" (in German: Aufsteiger des Jahres) in the Paper Atlas 2021 (Papieratlas 2021) competition.
The campus is located directly on the banks of the river Inn and adjoins an SAC (Special Area of Conservation). The University attaches great importance to maintaining the green spaces in a natural way and refrains from using pesticides. In addition, it relies on drought-resistant plant varieties as well as native woody plants and flowering areas that provide habitats for a wide range of species.
Since 2020, there has been an electric vehicle charging station in the underground car park of the Administration Building, which is available to employees. In addition, a hybrid vehicle was added to the university's electric vehicle fleet. With this purchase, the University is taking a significant step towards a green vehicle fleet and setting an example for sustainability and environmental awareness.
The University has already been using technology for regenerative energy production for some 30 years to make "clean" heating, cooling and ventilation possible. Aided by a capable team of technicians, it has gradually been transformed into a kind of passive house that consumes about 4,000 megawatt hours of energy annually. Fossil fuels in the university's cycle have been reduced to a minimum.
The people on campus represent an important part in the technical calculations: a single person generates about 100 watts of thermal energy in one hour. According to this, a full lecture theatre – in which a projector may also be running – generates so much heat that there is even surplus energy left over after heating the room to a decent temperature.
Not content with merely saving energy and cutting down on CO2 emissions, we have also set ourselves the goal of using sustainable building materials. Whenever possible, we use silicate paint, mineral foam boards for insulation and avoid any unnecessary use of chemicals or plastics. In addition, the air exchange fans we use in our buildings are automatically adjust their speed to the measured CO2 concentration in the air relative to the number of people in the room, rather than running on a fixed setting.
The University relies on a piping system that filters water from the Inn River and directs it via a heat exchanger to the IT Centre's server systems, which require cooling. The water is additionally used to irrigate the sports field. This double effect can save 5,000 to 6,000 cubic metres of valuable drinking water per year, depending on the weather.
A visit to the technical heart of the campus demonstrates that the topic of sustainability plays a very important role in operational technology at the University. For more details, please take a look at our Campus Passau Magazine.