Leuphana wins ZEIT-Wissen Sustainability Prize

On February 21st Leuphana University of Lüneburg was given the “ZEIT-Wissen Encouraging Sustainability Prize” in Hamburg.  By granting this prize, ZEIT-Wissen and the Initiative “Encouraging Sustainability” recognized the university’s successful integration of the sustainability principle in all aspects of its academic life.  A ten-member jury, composed of experts from academia, business, society and the media, made the selection. This was the first time that the 10,000 Euro prize had been awarded.

University President Sascha Spoun accepted the award together with Professors Ute Stoltenberg and Gerd Michelsen.  He sees the prize as an acknowledgement of the university’s rigorous and, comprehensive concern for questions of sustainability: “Improving sustainability has a long tradition at our university.  These efforts are not limited to our research and our teaching, but also concretely manifest themselves in the day-to-day activities of the university.” In 2010, Leuphana was the first German university to establish a Faculty for Sustainability.  Its scholars address the shared interdisciplinary question: How can we design a sustainable society? The consistent on-going development of sustainability has had a broad influence on all aspects of the university—from research to the design of the campus.  Innovative courses, research projects, conferences and exemplary initiatives by the university administration make clear why the University of Lüneburg is considered exemplary when it comes to questions of sustainability.

For the jury chaired by Klaus Wiegandt, the director of the foundation Forum for Responsibility, a central consideration in granting the award was that Leuphana is teaching young people to become active citizens, ready to respond to the demands of civil society in the 21st century.  Through countless projects, Leuphana has encouraged students to become socially engaged.  “In the process knowledge and practice are inter-linked in an exemplary fashion,” Wiegandt explained.

 “Many theoretical insights and ideas are being directly applied to the university campus, in such a way that students and faculty are already implementing sustainable living in their day-to-day activities.”  The jury recognized the university as a “pioneer in sustainable development at the very heart of our society.”  The awards ceremony was held in connection with a sustainability congress, which included Hamburg’s First Mayor Olaf Scholz and the former UNEP executive director, Klaus Töpfer.

Leuphana University of Lüneburg is committed to mobilizing education, research and knowledge transfer to make an important contribution towards the sustainable development of a civil society.  Sustainably oriented decision-making takes center stage not just in the university’s research and instructional practice, but also in a regular Leuphana workday. Leuphana is among the most climate friendly universities in Germany. Already in the year 2000, Leuphana was one of the first universities to be certified according to the environmental management system EMAS.  Its further development as a “sustainable university” is documented in sustainability reports that the university has issued over the last four years.  Leuphana greatly exceeds the political goals of climate protection. Since the beginning of 2012, the university has relied 100% on green electricity.  

The principle of sustainability determines moreover how the campus will continue to develop.  Last year construction work began on a groundbreaking and especially energy efficient new central building designed by the world renown architect Daniel Libeskind.  Researchers at Leuphana are actively participating in the development of this new model of energy use.  Further reductions in CO2 emissions were attained through the structural/energy-efficient refurbishing of existing buildings and the campus heat distribution network.  In the past year Leuphana has also entered into the energy-contracting performance market.  In the next couple of years up to 40% of the current energy consumption will be saved while the supply simultaneously shifts toward renewable energy sources.

You can find more information about the ZEIT-Wissen prize at www.mut-zur-nachhaltigkeit.zeit.de

You can find more information about Leuphana’s sustainability plans, here: www.leuphana.de/universitaet/fakultaet/nachhaltigkeit.html