VU Amsterdam: the Netherlands’ most sustainable university

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is the most sustainable university in the Netherlands. It owes this title to the 2020 SustainaBul ranking, compiled by the sustainability-conscious student organization SvM, which stands for ‘students for tomorrow’. Each year, they rank 30 Dutch higher education institutions on sustainability in their research, education, business operations and integral approach. In 2020, VU Amsterdam has climbed eight places to occupy the runner-up spot overall, behind Van Hall Larenstein, a university of applied sciences.

06/18/2020 | 4:25 PM

Green Office
The higher education institutions were assessed using a questionnaire put together by SvM. Once the SvM students had answered the questions for each institution based on publicly available information, the institutions were given the opportunity to respond, on condition that they provided documentary evidence to support their input. VU Amsterdam’s Green Office was closely involved in this process. Manager Rodrigo Zapata is therefore delighted with the result: “This year, the university’s Green Office had a special part to play. We organized a Ranking Night where, under strict SvM supervision, we looked for documents and evidence to support our response. All credit to our colleagues at Corporate Real Estate and Facilities, who were a tremendous help.”

Sustainable university
VU Amsterdam’s SustainaBul 2020 ranking is the second official recognition of commitment to sustainability that the university has received this year. On the international Times Higher Education Impact Ranking 2020, published in April, VU Amsterdam came second out of almost 500 universities taking action to combat climate change. These impressive rankings show that the university is succeeding in creating conditions that bring people, the environment and the economy into equilibrium, without exhausting the Earth’s resources. It’s an approach that involves linking fundamental scientific knowledge on sustainability with expertise on how to implement changes in society and on campus. Sustainability is also woven into the fabric of VU Amsterdam’s strategic plan.

Science for Sustainability
Sustainability is an integral part of teaching and research at VU Amsterdam. Lecturers, researchers and students involved in the VU Amsterdam Science for Sustainability theme are hard at work looking for solutions to sustainability issues. Another objective is for the VU campus to be completely free of natural gas by 2035, in combination with energy that is 100% sustainably generated.

This year’s SustainaBul was awarded online on the National Day for Sustainability in Higher Education.