UZH has approved an ambitious whole-institutional sustainability policy and released its first sustainability report. Furthermore, the University has published a new transparency list of third-party funding sources and signed the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA).
The University of Zurich (UZH) codified its commitment to sustainability in its Sustainability Policy at the beginning of the year. It has now also published its first sustainability report. The report, which is based on the SDGs, offers a comprehensive analysis of the current status of sustainability at UZH and points out key areas for action. “As a public education and research institution, we have a particular responsibility when it comes to advancing the dialogue on sustainability, both across disciplines and with society at large”, says UZH Vice President Gabriele Siegert.
UZH has over 9,000 employees and 26,000 students, which means that its organizational structure and operations also have a considerable role to play in meeting sustainability goals. With regard to energy consumption, UZH reports having used 120 gigawatt hours in 2018, 78 percent of which came from renewable sources. This is 10 percent more than the proportion of renewable energy that was used in 2008. “Energy efficiency at UZH has reached a high level”, explains Lorenz Hilty, UZH Sustainability Delegate. “We will be able to continue improving this in the future with our long-term policy of concentrating the University’s activities on two campuses.”
Sustainability actions are also being implemented positively in the UZH cafeteria. The popularity of meat-based meals has dropped and there is a rising demand for vegan and vegetarian meals. This trend helped the cafeteria reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 tons from 2017 to 2018. Travel is one area that is particularly ripe for effective measures to bring about high-impact change. Most of the University’s greenhouse gas emissions are caused by flights taken by its members. UZH is currently working on two corporate strategies to define its direction and priorities for sustainable development. The strategies, which are set to be aproved this year, focus on two areas: research and teaching, and governance, administration and operations.
In addition, the University has recognised the links between sustainable development and financial transparency through the publication of a new transparency list of third-party funding. “Transparency when it comes to vested interests and financial relationships is also a key contributor to sustainable development in research and teaching”, explains President Michael Hengartner. It has also signed the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), challenging current quality criteria based on the use of publication metrics only.