Leuphana releases report: Sustainable in Research and Daily Operations

Lüneburg. Until now very few of the over 500 universities in the German-speaking part of Europe have documented their own development from the perspective of sustainability. Leuphana University of Lüneburg is meanwhile now ready to release its fourth sustainability report. This reflects the university’s serious commitment to the continuing developing of sustainability in all its branches—from research to campus design. Innovative academic courses, research projects, conferences and exemplary initiatives in university administration show why Leuphana serves as a model when it comes to questions of sustainability.

Photovoltaic units on the roofs of campus buildings, City Bikes at the entrance to campus, Fairtrade coffee in returnable mugs, and organic food in the cafeteria: Whoever visits Leuphana can see from the many external signs that the university has set sustainability at the top of its agenda. Projects such as “a climate neutral campus,” the conversion of its energy supply to green electricity, CO2 neutral shipping of letters and a voluntary environmental management system based on EMAS are perhaps less recognizable, but they belong just as much to a comprehensive sustainability plan for the university as having the right courses and research projects. This past year, ZEIT WISSEN and the initiative “Dare to be sustainable” acknowledged Leuphana’s successful integration of sustainability ideas into all branches of academic life with an award.
The report, “Steps into the Future,” addresses the economic and social aspects and describes the integration of sustainability into research, teaching and knowledge transfer. “Four years ago we were the first university in Germany to establish its own faculty for sustainability. This underscores the importance that this topic has for us,” University President Sascha Spoun explained. The faculty takes a transdisciplinary approach, which entails combining various different disciplines and practices with one another. It houses over 29 professors and seven research institutes. The faculty’s work is defined by the combination of discipline-specific expertise with transdisciplinary problem-solving research. This approach produces application-oriented knowledge that influences policy makers, farmers and local businesses.
The strong commitment shown by members of the university to the sustainable organization of civil society is visible on several levels. All students learn extensively about the topic of sustainability in their first semester. This approach is innovative and unique within the German university system. In addition to their area of concentration in the major, Bachelor degree students can chose a sustainability topic as part of their complementary studies requirement. The complementary studies program gives them the chance to look beyond their own specialized discipline. Leuphana also offers additional opportunities to earn academic qualifications related to sustainability through the Master’s program in Sustainability Sciences and the international acclaimed MBA-degree program in Sustainability Management.
Students have also become involved in sustainability outside their official academic work. They have set up a vegetable garden on campus called “Leufarm.” They are operating their own self-help bicycle shop, “repair cafes,” and exchanges for bartering clothes and books. They organize an annual sustainable music festival, “Lunatic,” and have become involved in various projects for working class children, migrants, seniors, human rights and social inclusion.

The principle of sustainability determines moreover how the campus will continue to develop. Construction work on a groundbreaking and especially energy efficient new central building designed by the world-renown architect Daniel Libeskind is moving along well. Researchers at Leuphana are actively participating in the development of the building’s new model for energy use. Further reductions in CO2 emissions have also been attained through the structural/energy-efficient refurbishing of existing buildings and the campus heat distribution network.

The report follows the internationally recognized guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) on sustainability reporting and the sustainability related performance indicators described therein.

You can download the sustainability report and find further detailed information about sustainability at Leuphana here: http://www.leuphana.de/en/topics/sustainability.html