Green Office Meetup at Wageningen University

Building on the strategic alliance between TU/e, Wageningen University (WUR), and Utrecht University (UU), we set up a collaboration between our Green Offices about a year ago, to learn from each other, share best practices, and expand our networks. Last year, during Dutch Design Week, the two other offices came to see us in Eindhoven. That meeting was fun and insightful, and we decided to repeat it the following year. This is why, at 08:45 on Saturday morning, we squeezed into an Amber to drive to Wageningen and continue our partnership with the two Green Offices.  

After an hour of staring out the window at meadows filled with cows and thoroughly discussing the Dutch nitrogen crisis, we arrived at the WUR campus. Amidst familiar building names like Aurora, Helix, and Atlas, we were greeted by cups of steaming hot coffee and inviting smiles. Following a presentation by WUR’s Green Office on their working structure, strategic priorities, and projects, we took part in some fun introductory games and discussions. Then, we started digging deeper and discussing challenges, best practices, and tips and tricks experienced in our work. We were proud to share details about our very own SUMAP, which we got many questions about – both UU and WUR were interested in potentially setting up a similar initiative at their universities.  

We also talked a lot about the Sustainability Core Team and their achievements, and got many questions about how this team was set up and about the operationalization of sustainability at the TU/e. More importantly, we were inspired by many of the ideas and best practices shared by others. We had incredibly insightful conversations with the UU representatives about the ‘Green Teams’ structure in Utrecht, in which a group of passionate students, faculty, and staff form faculty ‘Green Teams’ to work on faculty-specific sustainability issues. We were deeply inspired by this concept and hope to explore something similar someday at TU/e.  

Another inspiring initiative was shared by the WUR team, who work extensively on making the university’s laboratories and hands-on research operations as environmentally conscious as possible. While sustainability in research is incredibly important to us, lab sustainability has been somewhat of a blind spot in our work. We took pages worth of notes and exchanged contact information for the specific projects. Of course, all this thinking and talking requires sustenance, so we took a break to have lunch made from Wageningen-grown ingredients and soak up the sun outside while enjoying our sandwiches and getting to know each other better. 

After lunch, we embarked on a campus tour and learned all about WUR’s energy transition plans, their own wind farm in Lelystad, the solar panels on top of WUR buildings, and the university’s Aquifer Thermal Energy Storage – a heating and cooling system almost identical to TU/e’s. We continued our tour to see interesting buildings such as Gaia and Lumen, both highly energy-efficient and constructed with the environment in mind. We ended our walk around campus at the Wageningen Student Farm, a student-run community farm where students get to turn their theoretical knowledge to practice and experiment with various farming practices, such as intercropping, composting, and permaculture.

After the tour, some of us went to a cozy bar in Wageningen to enjoy a few drinks together, ending the day on an informal and friendly note. Overall, our team had a great time visiting WUR Green Office, learned a lot and got inspired, while connecting with like-minded students along the way. We are looking forward to our next meeting!