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Eindhoven University of Technology winner SustainaBul 2019

Past March and April students were busying themselves with the question of which higher education institution would be the most sustainable. The SustainaBul is a project that was initiated by students who on a yearly basis create a ranking and award one institution with the title of ‘most sustainable higher education institution in the Netherlands’ that has ended on top of the list. The ranking is unique because the students themselves are evaluating the participating institutions, making the SustainaBul the largest student review in the Netherlands of how institutions are handling their sustainability matters. However, different from the past years, this year not the institution on top of the ranking won the SustainaBul, but the institution that had sent in the most impressive integral best practice with regards to sustainability. The first run of this new league was won by Eindhoven University of Technology, who were awarded the prize of ‘winner SustainaBul 2019’ with their best practice regarding their research into a circular energy source.

The best practice of Eindhoven University of Technology

In collaboration with Team Solid, the TU/e is researching the use of iron powder as a green and even circular energy source for the university. The expert jury, consisting of Rachel Heijne (Director VVM (Association for Environmental Professionals) and council member of GroenLinks in Utrecht), Ron Hendriks (managing director at Van Beek engineers) and Kimberly Roersma (founder/director at Mother Nature Cleans and part of the Sustainable Young top 100), became really excited about the iron powder initiative from TU/e. But besides the TU/e, the WUR (Wageningen University and Research) also impressed the expert jury with its ‘Campus as a Living Lab’ best practice, within which the WUR uses its own campus as part of their research projects and thereby facilitating innovative projects that link to the domain within which the WUR does research and provides education. Thus, this practice managed to get them the second place within the best practices league. Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, who offers a course to both students and lecturers that eventually puts knowledge regarding sustainability into practical ideas to make the university more sustainable, managed to get themselves a third place in the best practices league.


Ranking SustainaBul 2019 

Despite of the focus on the best practices this year, the ranking will of course sustain. In order to create this ranking, the SustainaBul asks the institutions 20 questions regarding their sustainable ambitions and actions. These 20 question are divided into four categories: education, research, business management and integral approach. The institutions were given four weeks’ time to fill out the online  questionnaire, after which the student ranking team awarded points to the answers that were filled out. There was no room for beating around the bush, as the institutions had to supply evidence supporting their given answers. Failing to submit or when submitting incomplete evidence meant that no points could be awarded.

The highest and lowest ranked higher education institutions

WUR managed to get no less than 292 points out of the 300 points that could have been earned. University of applied sciences Van Hall Larenstein managed to finish in a strong second place with 291 points and TU/e (who in 2018 managed to end first) completed the top 3 with 279 points. University of applied sciences Rotterdam Business School ended last with 56 points. Universities of applied sciences Amsterdam and Saxion shared a 15 th place with both having earned 140 points. In total there were 18 participating higher education institutions (with two shared placed), of which 10 universities and 8 universities of applied sciences.

Picture by Vera Duivenvoorden

Yet as sustainable the WUR may be, they were not able to take home the title of first prize. By putting the focus on the best practices (and connecting the first prize to this), Studenten voor Morgen as initiator of the SustainaBul, listens to the wish of higher education institutions. These had indicated that they preferred a focus on sharing knowledge with one another instead of focusing on the element of competition. And the greatest best practice from which other institutions can learn a lot, was sent in by the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) this year, which has awarded them first place in the SustainaBul of 2019.

The full list showing the ranking of the SustainaBul of 2019 can be seen below.

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