Sustainability is the cornerstone of everything we create and undertake together at Van Hall Larenstein University of Applied Sciences (VHL). For us, sustainability is not just a trend, but a tradition. It is not just hype, but the heart of everything we do. It permeates not only our teaching and research, but also our operations and collaborations. It is therefore by no means a coincidence that we have been named the most sustainable university of applied sciences of the Netherlands for several years in a row by the SustainaBul (the ranking of Dutch universities and universities of applied sciences in the field of sustainability). The ranking is based on the extent to which the educational institutions have integrated sustainability into their education, research and business operations.
Both the Leeuwarden and Velp locations have their own Green Office. These are run by a club of enthusiastic students at VHL with the ultimate goal of making our university of applied sciences as sustainable as possible. Green Office is a member of the international student network Students for Tomorrow.
As a University of Applied Sciences, HVHL places great importance on the intertwining of education and research to ensure that students can ultimately contribute to a better, more sustainable world as top-notch professionals. Real world assignments come in through the applied research groups and are taken up within the various degree programmes with the help of lecturer-researchers. In this manner, professors, researchers, lecturers and students provide innovative sustainable solutions to issues from (international) business and society in collaboration with practitioners from the professional field.
The 10% reduction targets included in the institutional plan ‘Grenzeloos Groen’ 2018-2021 in terms of energy and water consumption have been amply met. This will be built on and a facilities policy will be established in a multi-year sustainability plan based on the new institutional plan ‘Groeien als experts in transitie’ 2022-2025. This will, of course, focus on energy and water in all their facets, such as saving, generation, origin and storage.
Also with respect to waste, the reduction target from the previous institutional plan was more than met. In the multi-year sustainability plan, waste reduction will receive further attention and the use of disposable materials will be scrutinised. Reducing waste starts with a well-thought-out procurement policy. Our caterer is distinguished by its love of delicious, sustainable food & beverages.
Our sustainable travel policy is linked to ‘hybrid working’. HVHL is committed to promoting the combination of on-site and home-based hybrid working for employees whenever possible. A fixed monthly travel allowance without the possibility of choice is therefore giving way to a structure in which flexibility is an important principle and actual journeys to the location are taken into account. HVHL encourages employees to travel to our university of applied sciences in a sustainable way.
The world cannot exist without biodiversity. As space demands and environmental pressures put increasing pressure on biodiversity, biodiversity is central as one of the four transitions on which we are focusing. The importance of biodiversity is discussed in almost all study programmes, and it is also a theme that many students and staff members occupy themselves with in their free time. Our locations lend themselves well to this. Location Leeuwarden is located on the Potmarge, a small river that, together with the surrounding area, form the green lungs of Leeuwarden. Location Velp boasts the finest educational site in the Netherlands: Larenstein Estate. Of the 1700 native Dutch plant species, half can be found here.
Inclusion to us means being allowed to be who you are, feeling valued and being able to be yourself in the work environment. This means feeling free to say what you want to say while still respecting other people. It also means that there is room for dissenting opinions and that everyone has equal opportunities. We believe that differences in gender, age, sexual orientation, cultural and religious background, and work limitations enhance the quality of our education and research.
The United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are and will remain important in our education and research programmes, support and facilities. However, in the current new phase of our development as a university of applied sciences, the SDGs come into a broader context. After all, extensive, sweeping transitions are required. Shaping these sustainable transitions is part of the magnification of sustainability: SDGs 2.0.