Nearly twenty years of active commitment from Harz University of Applied Sciences
Harz University of Applied Sciences is a pioneer when it comes to sustainable action and environmental protection: it has had specific environmental principles in place since 2003, and an environmental declaration was added in 2011. The topic of sustainability has since been firmly rooted in the university’s activities, confirmed by EMAS (Eco-Management and Audit Scheme) certification. Development has been ongoing ever since.
“Sustainability means future-friendly living and action”, explains Jeannette Israel-Schart, the university’s Environmental Management Officer. It all began with the “Sustainable University Working Group”. Now we have the “Sustainable Harz University of Applied Sciences” senate board, covering all university groups. The participants work together to prepare strategic decisions, and the board reports directly to the President´s Office and the Academic Senate.
The viewpoint at Harz University of Applied Sciences is not limited to examining the three pillars of environmental, economic and social issues individually. “Everything is intertwined. Ensuring action that truly benefits the environment requires an increase in awareness”, the 47-year-old explains.
The topic is also becoming increasingly important to students: for example, the Student Union has made its events more environmentally friendly, and the question “is there anything vegan today?” is frequently heard in the canteen.
“Our environmental goals are achievable – ambitious, but achievable. This also shows that environmentally friendly action is not something I am forced to do, but rather something that offers me added value.” Jeannette Israel-Schart
Much has been done and much has been achieved. These figures are just an example:
– 100% recycled paper quota
– 55,000 litres of water saved in 2021
– Raising awareness with education projects
Incidentally, these savings cover the daily drinking water consumption of a third of our student body!
Our own photovoltaic systems in Halberstadt and on the roof of the “Papierfabrik” building in Wernigerode cover 3% of Harz University of Applied Sciences’ entire power needs.
Two tree planting campaigns in the 2020/21 year also helped to restore the forest. In December 2020, 550 larches and a hornbeam were planted within two hours above Försterplatz and near the Zillierbach Dam.
In November 2021, more than 800 oaks and young sweet chestnut trees were set in the ground. Volunteers provided energetic assistance with this effort to promote the return of native deciduous forests. “The appeal for donations to fund the plants was also well received”, Jeannette Israel Schart reported. The most remarkable result of the reforestation effort: around 20 trees were planted per person per hour near to Försterplatz.
The next plans are already in motion: by 2023, the aim is for the power used at Harz University of Applied Sciences to be entirely obtained from renewable sources, in order to ensure a carbon-neutral power supply for the long term. In addition, procurement guidelines are being rewritten: “Nowadays, price is not the only factor to consider. Where the product comes from is also important, as this is something that the environment must pay for.”
Author: Anna-Lena Schou
Image author: © Maike Reiß
Image rights: © Harz University