From 30.05.2023 to 02.06.2023, the Sustainability Office of Bielefeld University visited Utrecht University as part of the Erasmus+ Staff Mobility to get to know the work of the Green Office there. The experiences of other universities on the topic of sustainability are essential for the work of the Sustainability Office.
The Green Office in Utrecht is considered a best-practice example of an established sustainability office. Since September 2013, it has focused on information, activation and advice/support for students and employees in the implementation of sustainability projects. It later became part of the Sustainability Office, which brings together all university policy activities in the area of sustainability. The Green Office in Utrecht is also a visible contact point for ideas and concerns around the topic of sustainability, where students find the space to exchange ideas about sustainability and initiate projects, but also to find out about topics such as recycling or sustainable business trips, or to take a free plant cutting from the baby plant stand. Workshops and presentations on the topic of sustainability also regularly find their place in the Green Office.
The many sustainability initiatives on campus are impressive, especially the large flowering areas and wild meadows, the Tiny Forest and the planting boxes of the various departmental student representative committees. In addition, Utrecht University's Green Office runs a cargo bike rental service, a Thrift Shack as a swap meet for used items and the 'Freedge' - a fridge for sharing food. In general, the Utrecht University campus is very modern, especially with good cycling infrastructure, a grey water system for watering plants, video conference booths and shared offices. There is also a wide range of plant-based food options throughout the campus.
Utrecht's modern cityscape is also impressive, especially the city's focus on cycling in the form of very well-developed cycle paths and numerous bicycle parking facilities, for example in the world's largest bicycle parking garage, which has space for around 12,500 bicycles.
Overall, the visit to Utrecht was very inspiring and provided an insight into the successful strategies and initiatives to promote sustainability on campus and in the city. Especially for the work in the Sustainability Office, many ideas and inspirations could be taken away.