Help Build a Sustainable RWTHCopyright: © Martin Braun
Through our individual and collective actions – whether in research, teaching, operations, or governance – we can all take responsibility and contribute to a more sustainable RWTH. Only together can we make the best possible contribution to shaping science and society for the future in a lasting and reliable way. We are fully committed to reaching this goal.
Extract from the Sustainability Mission Statement
Tips for Your Workday
RWTH wants to promote sustainable habits and further develop the University as an attractive place and space for togetherness. Below you will find tips on various topics for your everyday work life: Mobility, Energy, Procurement, Waste Disposal, Water, Eating, and Drinking. These are intended to give you, the members of the University, ideas on how you too can contribute to a more sustainable RWTH.
Do you have other ideas for a more sustainable workday? Please let us know!
Tips for the Workday
- Come to work on foot or by bicycle
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Too many floors? Take the stairs on your way down or get out of the elevator a few floors earlier and take the stairs the rest of the way.
- Create a carpool group. Or use Park and Ride.
Further information is available on the Visiting RWTH and Getting Around page.
- For medium distances, consider an e-bike instead of your car.
- Business trips: Check whether it is really necessary to fly – the FlugreisenGo decision tree can help you here.
- Turn off all devices and lights when you leave the room for the day or when you do not need or are not using them.
- Look for energy-efficient options when buying new devices.
- Unplug chargers when they are not in use.
- Check to see if you can turn down the heat slightly.
- Check what you can do to prevent your office from getting too hot or too cold. For example, consider closing the doors when the heating is on or using blinds to keep out the heat out on hot days.
- Use online search engines that are environmentally friendly and also respect your privacy, such as Ecosia or Gexi.
- If desired, print out the Energy Savings Tips Flyer to serve as a reminder on your office door.
- Order organic/fair-trade products via the RWTH Purchasing Portal and also choose green alternatives for office materials.
- Use the instructions on the environment and sustainability in the Intranet Offer of Division 7.3 – Central Purchasing
- Environmental and sustainability aspects can be required at four different levels in the tendering and awarding process: Suitability criteria, special requirements for the performance of the service, minimum requirements for the product (e.g.), award/award criteria.
- Questionnaire for the tenderer
- Find out about options for considering sustainability aspects when buying products: Fact Sheet for Sustainable Purchases at RWTH
- If necessary, look up sources of information for sustainable purchases
- Avoid waste in the first place. Use your own containers (cups, bottles, cans) for food and drinks to avoid disposable packaging.
For example, drink tap water instead of bottled water. Tap water in RWTH buildings is tested regularly and can normally be consumed directly. Especially in old buildings, let the water run for a short time first to avoid your drinking water being in the faucet for a long time. If you notice that the water is getting cooler, you can drink it without further restrictions.
- Consider whether a document, an email really needs to be printed – and encourage others to think about it by adding the following line to your signature:
Please consider the environment before printing this email
- Set the default settings for your workstation printer to black and white and double-sided to save paper as well.
Quick guide: Open Explorer: Printer & Scanner → Select Device → Manage → Printer Settings.
- Reuse products or look for reusable alternatives. For example, reusing a box for shipping a second time can save 47 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in this situation.
- To properly dispose of the waste you generate, use the services offered by the 11.01 Waste Management Service Center – SCA) as needed.
- Provision of containers for recyclable materials (mixed: plastic, wood, metal), which are emptied regularly or following a phone call
- Containers for individual fractions (glass, electrical waste, construction waste, wood, metals, shavings, etc.)
- Possibility to drop off waste at the SCA
- Regular collection of special waste (used tires, fluorescent tubes, toner cartridges, data protection media, styrofoam, etc.)
- Individual consulting, e.g. of institutes by the SCA/waste management officer regarding the disposal of new/"difficult" waste
Use water sparingly
Turn off the faucet as soon as possible and also while soaping your hands.
Do not use the toilet as a trash can
Contact lenses, tampons, etc. do not belong there!
Drink tap water instead of bottled water
Tap water in RWTH buildings is regularly tested and can normally be consumed directly. Especially in old buildings, let the water run for a short time first to avoid your drinking water being in the tap for a long time. If you notice the water getting cooler, you can drink it without further restrictions.
Eating and drinking
- Use your own cup for coffee or tea and not takeout cups.
- Choose vegetarian or vegan options in the dining halls/restaurants.
- Eat fish from sustainable sources (look for the MSC or ASC labels).
- Drink tap water instead of bottled water.
- Waste as little food as possible. Often, food can be enjoyed beyond its best-by date. Find out more about this at the German Ministry of Food and Agriculture, for example, or get inspired at Zu gut für die Tonne (Too good for the garbage).
Participating in RWTH’s Sustainability Journey
Participation is a central and guiding element of RWTH's evolving sustainability journey. In addition to bilateral and project-related discussions, student and staff engagement opportunities will be strengthened and consolidated through established structures. The aim is to keep integrating the expertise and ideas of all university members as we move forward.
Sustainability at RWTH Workshop
On March 8, 2021, more than 100 university members discussed the topic of sustainability at RWTH in four working groups:
- Research – Science
- Teaching and Learning – Studies
- Campus Operations
- International Affairs – Society – Social Matters
In addition to performing a SWOT analysis, each working group formulated objectives for a more environmentally sustainable University.
Following the workshop, the working groups were made more permanent in the form of GreenTeams. The aim is to continue integrating the expertise and impetus from the various University groups into the sustainability process.
All RWTH members are invited to participate in the various GreenTeams (Teaching and Learning – Research – Campus Operations). All GreenTeams will discuss the topics of society, internationalization, and social issues to ensure that these cross-sectional aspects are considered in all areas. Everyone is invited to join in!
The virtual meetings of the GreenTeams will be held as follows:
Campus Operations GreenTeam
- Thursday, November 17, 2022, 2 to 3:30pm
Friday, December 2, 2 to 3:30pm
Teaching and Learning GreenTeam
- Thursday, November 10, 2022, 10:30am to 12 noon
- Monday, November 28, 2022, 12:30 to 2pm
Please register to take part in these workshops by email and we will send you all the necessary information.
Sustainability Round Table
Every semester, the virtual Sustainability Round Table will offer a platform for student initiatives, student councils, the AStA Students’ Committee, and the Office of Sustainability and University Governance to talk and share information. The latest developments in the staff unit and any planned activities are briefly presented and various guests will share some ideas. Students can then introduce their student initiatives and showcase current projects, and they can share their ideas and information with the staff unit and each other.
RWTH has a wide range of student initiatives. Students are not only involved in activities related to sports, culture, and technology, but also to society, social affairs, and international affairs. AStA provides an overview of all student initiatives on its website.
The Sustainability Sessions are an opportunity for all interested parties to get to know the staff unit and our sustainability efforts at RWTH.
Due to the current situation, the sessions will be offered online. We are looking forward to talking to you about our work or offer you our support if you have an idea for a project. Please also let us know if you have any suggestions.
The sessions take place every Wednesday from 2 to 3pm.
Please register by email in advance. Then we will gladly send you the link to log in. We are looking forward to talking about sustainability action with you.
Feel free to stop by our FAQ section. There you will find answers to some of the questions we regularly receive from the University. We always welcome your questions, suggestions, and comments, which you can send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find specific sustainable projects and offers at RWTH, from research, teaching and learning, operations, governance, or society – international topics – social initiatives on the digital sustainability map of the University. We would appreciate it if you also added your sustainability-related projects or initiatives to it.
High-N: Sustainability at Universities
What contributions to sustainable development can universities make in the spheres of action of sustainability reporting, governance, teaching and learning, research, operations, and knowledge transfer? How can a common understanding of sustainability and transformation be developed in the university network? How can sustainable developments succeed throughout the University?
These and similar questions, as well as the establishment of a nationwide university network, were the focus of the project Sustainability at Universities: Develop - Network - Report (HOCHN), which was funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research BMBF under the identifier 13NKE007.
The guidelines, findings, and frameworks developed there are some of the foundations of sustainability work at RWTH. You can find the collected information from the project in the Hoch-N Wiki.
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