Promoting a Sustainable Organization

By adopting the Sustainability Mission Statement in 2021, the University members committed to considering sustainability as an integral part of their actions. To this end, resources are to be used responsibly and efficiently in the construction, renovation, and management of buildings and infrastructure, as well as in procurement and mobility issues, and in all other areas of work. The starting points are many and varied in nature. The purchase of energy from renewable sources is just as important as waste separation and procurement issues.  

In the following chapter, you can find out more about developments with regard to sustainability at RWTH. As in the first Sustainability Report, the chapter covers the areas of buildings and space, energy supply, procurement, waste disposal, mobility, and greenhouse gas emissions. Individual data is presented in a supporting format. A more detailed overview of the data, including a presentation of developments over the past five years, can be found in the data appendix.

An overview of the basic structures in the area of operations and sustainability at the University can be found in RWTH’s first Sustainability Report.

The picture is divided into two sections. On the left is head of department Geva Aschhoff. She is wearing a checked blazer and a red shirt. She is smiling at the camera. On the right is Co-Head of Department Markus Leber. He is wearing a gray cardigan and a blue-striped shirt. He has his hands in his trouser pockets and is smiling at the camera.
Martin Braun (beide Fotos)

Three Questions for...

Geva Aschhoff und Markus Leber

Sustainability at RWTH is directly linked to the people who learn, teach, research, and work at the University. They all bring different perspectives on a sustainable university. With a view to the Operations Group, we have brought along three questions for Head of Department Geva Aschhoff and Co-Head of Department Markus Leber. We are looking forward to their answers!

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At a Glance

RWTH contributes to sustainability in its own operations with a wide range of activities and measures. The commitment and sustainability-conscious actions of all University members are important here.

Good to Know – RWTH Is Guided by a Sustainability Mission Statement.

The sustainability efforts at RWTH Aachen University are based on the Sustainability Mission Statement adopted in July 2021. In our mission statement, we have laid out our understanding of sustainability and formulated our joint commitment to creating a sustainable campus. As an orientation framework, it also addresses aspects of governance.

Learn more about the mission statement here

Our Path Toward a Sustainable Future

Developments in the Area of Operations

The sustainable design of operations is an ongoing process at RWTH. In July 2021, the University committed to climate neutrality by 2030 as part of the Race to Zero. The procurement of green electricity as of January 1, 2023, represents an important milestone in this respect. The area of operation is diverse. It is therefore not surprising that a total of six out of nine working groups at the “Sustainability at RWTH Aachen University” workshop in March 2023 dealt with topics that are relevant to the organization.

The certification of RWTH as a Fairtrade University, which was awarded in June 2022, should also be highlighted. The establishment of a Sustainability Fund and the resulting funding of six projects aimed at contributing to more sustainable operations in the first funding phase in 2022 represent important steps on the path to sustainable operations.

Buildings and Spaces

With around 47,000 students, RWTH Aachen University is one of the largest technical universities in Germany. The operation is accompanied by a corresponding number of buildings and almost 460,000 m² of main usable space (as of 2022, excluding Faculty 10/Uniklinik RWTH Aachen). The University buildings extend across the entire city area - from Aachen-Mitte to Hörn and Melaten. At RWTH Aachen University, new construction, expansion, refurbishment, renovation and operation of buildings are coordinated by Facility Management, Department 10. Find out the latest news on buildings and areas here.

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Energy Supply

RWTH has set itself the goal of being climate-neutral by 2030. This means making the University’s operations more sustainable and reducing the ecological consumption of resources. The focus here is particularly on energy supply. Find out more about the development of energy consumption at RWTH Aachen University, the purchase of green electricity and other aspects.

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In procurement, there are many starting points for making RWTH’s operations more sustainable. The consideration of ecological, social and economic aspects plays a decisive role here. Find out more about developments in paper requirements, innovations in the RWTH Purchasing Portaland also about fair trade at the University.

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Waste Disposal

The operation of a large university such as RWTH Aachen University is accompanied by corresponding requirements for the disposal of waste. Environmental protection and resource conservation as well as opportunities for strengthening a circular economy play an important role here. Find out more about the aspects of waste disposal at RWTH and the “Yellow Garbage Can” pilot project.

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At RWTH, a distinction is made between two areas in the processing and development of mobility – on the one hand, mobility to and from RWTH as a place of teaching, learning, and work, and on the other hand, mobility through business trips. Below you can find out more about how people at RWTH get around, how they travel on business, and much more on the subject of mobility.

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Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Operating RWTH generates emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions are generated, for example, in connection with the electricity purchased, the operation of the combined heat and power plants (CHP), the district heating purchased, business trips, and RWTH’s own vehicle fleet. Find out more about the pattern and trends of greenhouse gas emissions here.

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Good to Know! The Sustainability Strategy.

A process to develop and adopt a Sustainability Strategy and associated roadmap by engaging all members of the University community has been underway at RWTH since the beginning of 2022. The Strategy includes targets, indicators, and specific measures to realize the vision of a climate-neutral and more sustainable RWTH by 2030.

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More Exciting Insights

Here you will find further articles on sustainability with regard to operations. Find out more about an innovative living algae façade or the RWTH’s Energy Data Management System – EDMS for short.

A person holds up a petri dish with green growth. A pane of glass with a green bubbling liquid behind it can be seen in the background.
Kalle Hüser

LIVEWIN – Innovative Living Algae Facade for Energy Saving, CO2 and N2 Fixation

The aim of the project is to develop an aesthetically pleasing and versatile “living” façade that not only insulates a building, but can also bind CO2 and produce nitrogen fertilizer. The research project can thus make a contribution towards tackling the current challenges of climate change.

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A man stands in front of two screens hanging on the wall and presents a diagram.
Martin Braun

Energy Data Management System for RWTH Aachen University

Climate change and rising energy prices are current challenges that need to be addressed. RWTH has committed itself to becoming climate-neutral by 2030. In order to be able to measure and verifiably reduce consumption, a sound data basis is required. Building Management is therefore developing a central energy data management system, or EDMS for short.

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17 people, including Rector Rüdiger and the representatives of the funded projects, smile into the camera. Aachen's city center with the cathedral and town hall are in the background.
Heike Lachmann

The Sustainability Fund

In order to align RWTH’s operations in the future in such a way that ecological resource consumption is reduced in terms of climate neutrality and responsible, inclusive collaboration is promoted and carried out even more intensively, the University management set up the Sustainability Fund in 2022. A total of 450,000 euros is available over three years to support projects that make the University’s operations more sustainable. Learn more about the fund and the projects in the first funding phase.

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