WU is Austria’s first climate-neutral university
WU is committed to ensuring that all of its activities are environmentally friendly. Sustainability has always been one of the guiding principles in planning, building, and operating WU’s campus. WU has now taken this approach a step further by becoming a carbon-neutral university. This means that all unavoidable carbon emissions created by WU’s operations are offset by contributions to climate protection projects in Austria and abroad.
WU made sure to live up to its responsibility as a public institution when building its new campus. The construction project was based on the principles of economic, environmental, and social sustainability. In its day-to-day operations, WU is committed to ensuring the economical and efficient use of resources and reducing the amount of materials needed. WU’s business processes are designed to be sustainable and to reduce WU’s environmental footprint in terms of emissions, waste, and waste water. Campus WU has received numerous awards in recognition of its commitment to environmental sustainability. The buildings on campus have received “Blue Building” certification (a step up from “Green Building” principles), and WU’s operations have been certified according to EMAS and ISO 14001 standards. However, WU cannot avoid carbon emissions completely in its day-to-day activities. “WU is a university committed to acting responsibly. It is very important to us to offset our unavoidable carbon emissions. We’re very proud that we’ve now achieved this goal a hundred percent. This makes WU Austria’s first climate-neutral university,” says WU Rector Edeltraud Hanappi-Egger.
WU supports three climate-protection projects
To achieve carbon neutrality, WU is working with Climate Austria, an Austrian initiative for voluntary climate protection activities. In WU’s day-to-day operations, 1,100 tons of carbon emissions per year are created by waste, heating and cooling systems, and power consumption. WU offsets this amount of CO2 emissions by supporting two climate protection projects in Austria and one abroad. For example, WU supports the nonprofit FAB (Verein zur Förderung von Arbeit und Beschäftigung) in making the switch to LED lighting. This change will save approx. 300 tons of CO2 over a ten-year period. WU also helps the charity Caritas4you to provide e-bikes to its employees. This means that they no longer have to use cars to reach the charity’s assisted living facilities and can use a CO2-neutral alternative instead. This measure will also save approx. 300 tons of carbon emissions.
The third project provides financial support to a project helping to build efficient kitchen (clay) stoves in Ruanda. These stoves are produced in a local brick factory. They create local jobs and reduce wood consumption, which helps preserve eastern Ruanda’s unique flora and biodiversity. The stoves were developed together with local experts and produce over 60% less carbon emissions and smoke than conventional open fireplaces (saving 500 tons of CO2), significantly improving quality of life for the families that use them. “In our environmental guidelines, we state our commitment to protecting and conserving our natural resources through sustainable development. We want to do our part to keep this world sustainable for future generations. When deciding on our carbon offset activities, we wanted to support not only international but also regional projects that have an immediate impact on the reduction of CO2 emissions here in Austria,” Rector Hanappi-Egger explains. The exact contribution that is required for WU to offset its carbon emissions is reassessed on a yearly basis. Together with Climate Austria, WU chooses new climate protection projects to support each year based on its annual carbon emissions.
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