This is what you will see of the sustainability millions

A EUR 100 million investment will make TU Delft much more sustainable. A lot will change. Details are still being worked out, but the recommendations capture the imagination.

The new energy generating education building Echo on TU Delft campus. (Photo: Eva Bloem)

A while ago, TU Delft set itself a clear goal: TU Delft in its entirety must be CO2 neutral by 2030. This means that emissions must be greatly reduced in all areas. Of the current 70,000 plus tonnes of CO2 emitted every year, only 11,500 tonnes will be permitted in 2030. And this amount will be compensated for through reforestation.

In a press release published at the beginning of november, TU Delft further explains its plans for the next eight years. Not all the measures to be taken have been fully worked out yet, so Delta went through the accompanying advice report and found five striking ideas. 

1. Internal CO2 levy
of the most striking possible measures is a study into an internal CO2 levy. TU Delft will link an amount of money to every activity that emits greenhouse gases. The figure being considered is EUR 150 for every tonne of CO2 emitted. This amount is very much higher than the current EUR 76 upheld by the European market for one tonne of CO2, and slightly higher than the EUR 100 to EUR 145 used by other institutions. TU Delft is opting to use that higher price to compensate for damage to the climate in the past.

Should the levy be applied to the current full amount of CO2 emissions at TU Delft, it would equate to about EUR 10.5 million. The money that this internal CO2 levy generates will not simply disappear. The proposal is to put it into a sustainability fund. TU Delft could use it to finance sustainable initiatives or sustainable transport for students. When the CO2 levy will take effect is still pending. 

2. Free food
too could be subject to a type of CO2 levy. Less sustainable foods such as meat and off season vegetables should be more expensive at the very least. Climate friendly food with lower CO2 emissions, such as veggie burgers and bread rolls with hummus, will be cheaper. TU Delft is also thinking about promotional activities such as the earlier free vegan kebab giveaway and giving leftover food from the canteens away. 

Apart from allergy information, the boards in the kitchen will also contain information about the environmental impact of the food. This has already been tested at Chalmers University in Sweden and it reduced the greenhouse gases of all the lunches by 25%.

A menu with adjusted prices due to the CO2-levy. (Source: report sustainable TU Delft)

3. Sustainability labels
and other buildings in the Netherlands have had an energy label for a while now, but TU Delft’s plans for a different kind of energy label might affect faculties and even study associations. This label will be more detailed than the current energy label. TU Delft will give scores to the energy used as well as to the amount of waste produced and the sustainability of the food that students and staff members consume.

The advice also includes a competitive element: faculties that will battle for the lowest CO2 emission in certain months. A digital panel would be hung up at the entrance of each building and it would show the faculty’s score on each sustainability point.

A ranking showing CO2 emitted for each building according to the sustainability labels. (Source: report sustainable TU Delft)

4. Discount for taking the train and paid parking
Delft wants as many of its staff members and students as possible to use bicycles and e-bikes to come to campus. This mostly applies to staff members who live within 30 kilometres of TU Delft.

In 2019, staff members were already able to try out e-bikes free of charge. From November 2021, TU Delft staff members also got a discount on purchasing bicycles or e-bikes and free maintenance at bicycle shops in and around Delft. This offer may be extended in the next few years with a higher discount and more maintenance reimbursements such as new batteries for e-bikes.

TU Delft is also advised to discourage the use of fossil cars. Parking might cost money. The amount charged will then be based on the CO2 levy and will mean that owners of petrol and diesel cars will have to pay. Further, it would be come more difficult to get a parking place if you live within 30 kilometres of the campus, and parking will be moved to the edges of the campus. Staff members would, however, get a discount for the train. What kind of discount (e.g. a business card, day pass etc.) is still looked into.

Whenever possible, TU Delft is planning to replace air travel by train or bus travel. The responsible department will in that case have to pay an additional CO2 levy. According to the advice, Erasmus students going abroad will receive a reimbursement of up to EUR 185 for the train or bus. This equals the minimum cost of an Interrail ticket for all of Europe.

5. TU Delft woods and wild bees
just any trees, plants and insects would come to campus. TU Delft is looking into the most suitable species. This means that threatened wild bees will be stimulated. For this, the advice specifies that a specially appointed beekeeper would make sure the right conditions are created for wild bees. There would also be more nesting boxes and insect hotels.

Utrecht University is a good example of this. It has planted around 6,000 indigenous trees and shrubs in the meadows around the Science Park. It even has a Biodiversity Manager. TU Delft is also thinking about this.

The woods through which TU Delft intends to compensate its remaining CO2 emissions in 2030 will only partially be on campus, but mostly elsewhere in the world. TU Delft is currently looking into possible locations. Andy van den Dobbelsteen, the Sustainability Coordinator, in any case hopes for a clearly identifiable place which will be the ‘TU Delft Woods’.

How is the EUR 100 million distributed?
amount of EUR 100 million will be available for sustainability measures up to 2030. It will be divided like this: 

Science editor Rob van der Wal

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