On the Path to Zero Emissions

17/01/2024
A large group of people standing around a model of Planet Earth Copyright: © Heike Lachmann

New Sustainability Strategy adopted

 

RWTH continues to take sustainability seriously. The Senate recently adopted the Sustainability Roadmap, which sets out the specific goals, measures, and performance indicators for implementing the University's sustainability strategy.

Since 2022, RWTH Aachen University has been developing a Sustainability Strategy and an associated sustainability roadmap. The building blocks of the strategy were developed with the participation of all University groups: “This roadmap is the result of a participatory process. Every RWTH member had the opportunity to get involved and help shape our goals and define the measures to achieve them. We have ensured this through a wide range of activities – open workshops, surveys, and knowledge exchange events and formats such as the GreenTeams. This is how the Sustainability Roadmap has emerged from within the University,” said RWTH Rector Professor Ulrich Rüdiger. The initiative was to create a shared understanding of sustainability and a commitment to achieving the goals set by the entire University.

The joint commitment to becoming a more sustainable University was formulated in the 2021 Sustainability Mission Statement, which also set the goal of achieving climate-neutrality by 2030, that is, to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions to zero. In order to achieve this goal of a climate-neutral, more sustainable RWTH, the University has set out specific, measurable, realistic targets and a timeline to achieve them in the Sustainability Roadmap. Measures to achieve these goals and performance indicators were also defined.

RWTH has identified four key areas of activity: Teaching and learning, research, governance, and operations:

Professor Kathrin Greiff, one of the three Rector’s Delegates for Sustainability, is responsible for the area of research: “In order to make our research even more sustainable, we are working to further promote the topic of sustainability in all faculties and Profile Areas and to highlight the contributions already being made. Sustainability must not be an empty phrase; all of us at the University must live and breathe sustainability and transfer it to society through our research.”

Professor Aaron Praktiknjo is responsible for integrating the topic in teaching and learning. “We are working intensively on embedding the topic of sustainability in all our degree programs. We want to empower our students and instructors to drive the development of solutions with their innovative ideas,” said Praktiknjo, providing a specific example: “At the new SDG Campus, we offer recognized further training opportunities for students in the field of sustainability. The SDG Campus is therefore an important building block for incorporating sustainability in our courses of study.”

Professor Niklas von der Aßen is tasked with making the University’s operations more sustainable. “Through various measures, we already succeeded in significantly reducing RWTH’s energy consumption and CO2 emissions, for example by purchasing green electricity. Thus we have successfully completed the first steps. The Sustainability Roadmap will help us on our way towards achieving the major goal of a climate-neutral, sustainable RWTH. We take the goal very seriously and will continue to give our all."

Katharina Jochim, who heads RWTH’s Sustainability and University Governance Staff Unit, said: “Now that the strategy process has been completed, it is time to continue to carry out the measures already initiated for a more sustainable RWTH and to implement the Sustainability Strategy together with all University members”.