Climate-neutral operations and air travel at WU
WU is an international university that takes its responsibility very seriously in all areas, including its ecological responsibility.
Sustainability and responsibility were key design goals when planning and constructing Campus WU, and they remain top priorities in WU’s regular operations. Campus WU has won a number of awards for resource efficiency and the measures WU is taking to reduce its environmental footprint. The buildings on Campus WU have received “Blue Building” certification (a further development of the “Green Building” standards), and they have also been certified under the EMAS and ISO 14001 regimes. Even though WU uses state-of-the-art technologies, carbon emissions are unavoidable to a certain extent. To achieve climate neutrality, these emissions can be offset by supporting climate protection projects.
Starting 2020: Carbon offsets for air travel
In 2020, WU extended its offsetting scheme for unavoidable carbon emissions resulting from the university’s operations to include air travel. However, the number of business-related flights was of course very low in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Two years ago, WU started supporting climate protection projects to offset its carbon emissions. In 2020, we extended these efforts to include air travel. We will continue offsetting carbon emissions caused by flights in the future, when the pandemic is over. This project is not about buying a clean conscience. It’s about raising long-term climate awareness among the WU community. We’re proud that WU’s regular operations have been 100% climate neutral since 2019,” says WU Rector Edeltraud Hanappi-Egger.
Taking environmental responsibility seriously
WU is a responsible university that places great emphasis on sustainability, environmental protection, and responsibility in everything it does. These activities involve all members of the WU community, academic and administrative staff and students, for example in initiatives such as the Green Buddy project, where volunteers take an active role in promoting sustainability and environmental protection on campus. Various WU units approach the issue from an academic perspective, among them the Competence Center for Sustainability Transformation and Responsibility, the Institute for Ecological Economics, and the Institute for Managing Sustainability. In 2019, a WU Energy Screen was set up in the Teaching Center. This is a display that shows real-time data to monitor the current energy consumption levels of all buildings on campus and raise environmental awareness.
WU’s 2020 climate protection project: Arche Noah
To achieve climate neutrality by offsetting its carbon emissions, WU cooperates with Climate Austria, an Austrian initiative that provides voluntary climate protection services. In 2020, waste, heating, air conditioning, power consumption, and air travel caused 663 metric tons of carbon emissions at WU. WU offsets this amount by supporting Arche Noah, an Austrian organization promoting heirloom gardening and crop diversity. WU’s contributions are helping Arche Noah upgrade its heating system to a wood chip boiler, which will allow them to turn their waste wood into heat.