A TRULY SUSTAINABLE SMART UNIVERSITY

PRIORITY 4

We dream of becoming a truly sustainable smart university. How wonderful would it be if we had lively, well-connected campuses in both Diepenbeek and Hasselt:

  • In Diepenbeek, a green campus full of life, with modern, sustainable teaching and office buildings making the lives of students and staff easier, a central park for people rather than a car park, which would instead be found at the edge of the campus, outdoor sports facilities, beautiful bicycle sheds, many and varied eating and drinking establishments/cafes, residences for students and international guests…
  • In Hasselt, an urban campus, strongly connected to the city and interwoven with city life (shops, restaurants, theatres, exhibitions, etc.)…
  • …and between the two, a seamless connection, well lit, never flooded, with shared bikes, shuttle buses and more, so that it feels like both campuses are actually close to each other, and you can move quickly between them depending on your needs.

 

Wouldn’t that be a huge gain? Not only for the UHasselt, but also for all of the partners found on these campuses (PXL, UCLL, Confederatie Bouw Limburg,...) as well as the rest of the province and all kinds of regional actors. It also fits perfectly within our three grand challenges: achieving a sustainable, healthy and inclusive society.

 

We think it should be possible. Not in the short term; we are sensible and realistic enough to recognise that. That is why our aim is for 2030. However if we don’t start planning today so that we can achieve this step by step, we’ll have gotten nowhere by 2030.

 

What can start today is a focus on sustainable development as formulated by the United Nations in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These 17 sustainable development goals form the global sustainable development agenda for 2030. We endorse the SDGs in their entirety and we’re working out a plan so that we can truly be seen as a sustainable smart university by 2030. This should not simply be an empty gesture. The UHasselt of 2030 will be sustainable or it will be nothing at all!

 

We are already taking on a number of initiatives, but we are going to go the extra mile. These measures will include a full audit of our organisation, brainstorming and analysis of the options, and concrete actions linked to a responsible budget, while necessary coordination will be provided by an academic policy maker working alongside the working group on sustainability, to mention but a few activities. Themes such as health, inclusiveness, equality, environment, energy, the circular economy, mobility, climate change, and peace will be addressed. We already have a great deal of in-house scientific expertise.

 

We will closely involve the students. Just like the staff, they ‘live’ at UHasselt, but they ‘experience’ it in a completely different way. They have given many good recommendations in the past (e.g. concerning mobility in the case of kothopper and the carpool project, water consumption, etc.) and we have to listen to them and work with them wherever possible. We are thinking of establishing a Green Team with students so that we might do so.

 

Throughout the process, we will also ensure that we have our sustainability certified as much as possible. For example, we are striving to be the first Belgian/Flemish university to obtain an ISO 14001 certificate for our environmental management system, and by 2030 we are aiming for the even more ambitious European EMAS certificate.