A climate neutral UiB
The University of Bergen aspires to be climate neutral by the end of 2030.
Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our times and society needs to adapt quickly. As far as UiB is concerned, the green transition starts with us. The University Board has therefore adopted a goal of achieving climate neutrality by the end of 2030.
While UiB is reducing its climate footprint, the university’s greatest contribution to the green transition will be to produce knowledge that benefits society through education, research and innovation.
Definitions and goals
The UN’s Climate Neutral Now initiative defines three steps for becoming climate neutral:
1. Measure emissions in a climate report.
The climate report provides an overview of the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are directly or indirectly linked to UiB’s operations. The reports are produced by Asplan Viak AS on behalf of UiB. UiB has published a complete climate report, including Scopes 1, 2 and 3, since 2018.
The reports can be found here (text in Norwegian)
2. Reduce emissions.
UiB has initiated a number of measures designed to reduce its GHG emissions based on its climate report. The goal is to cut GHG emissions from travel, procurements, building and space use by 89% by 2030.
The University Board has adopted the following specific targets in order to achieve UiB’s ambition of becoming a climate neutral university:
- Emissions from travel will be halved by 2025
- Emissions from goods and services will be cut 40% by 2025
- Energy consumption will be cut by 30% by 2025
- Space use will be reduced by 10% by 2030
3. Compensate for residual emissions.
After reducing both direct and indirect GHG emissions by as much as possible, by up to 89% of both direct and indirect GHG emissions by 2030, UiB will offset its residual emissions by purchasing approved carbon credits.
UiB’s overarching strategy ‘Knowledge that shapes society’ runs until 2022 and work on formulating a new strategy for 2023-2030 has commenced. The university’s strategy is designed to say something about the institution’s values, goals and plans for the coming years and is thus one of UiB’s main values documents.
In 2016, UiB became the first of the major universities in Norway to be entirely Eco-Lighthouse certified. Eco-Lighthouse is Norway’s most widely used certification scheme for organisations that want to document their environmental efforts and demonstrate their corporate social responsibility. The scheme’s main principles mean that organisations must prove that they meet a series of sectoral requirements:
- Environmental criteria that are stricter than the statutory minimum requirements
- Continuous improvements over time
Action Plan for the External Environment
The Action Plan for the External Environment 2018-2022 sets out guidelines for UiB’s goals and activities within environmental work. The Action Plan for the External Environment will be revised in 2022.
Climate Neutral UiB’s Steering Group
Climate Neutral UiB’s Steering Group is central to UiB’s systematic environmental and climate work. The steering group is tasked with:
- Developing and following up UiB’s environmental policy, ambitions linked to ‘Climate Neutral UiB 2030’ and the Action Plan for the External Environment
- Taking decisions on matters reported on by the environmental secretariat
- Reporting to the University Board each year
The appointed members of UiB’s Climate Neutral Steering Group are:
- Camilla Brautaset, Dean, Faculty of Humanities
- Nora Haukali, Adviser, Faculty of Social Sciences/CET - Centre for Climate and Energy Transformation
- Kjartan Nesset, Deputy Director General, Estate and Facilities Management Division
- Per Arne Foshaug, Deputy Director General, Financial Services
- Sonja Irene Håland Dyrkorn. Deputy Director General, Division of Human Resources
- Thomas Helland-Hansen, student representative, The Student Parliament
- Ole Håvard Rustad, deputy student representative, The Student Parliament
- June-Vibecke Knudtsen Indrevik, Chief Safety Delegate, UiB
The environmental coordinator functions as the group secretary.
UiB has its own environmental contact people tasked with supporting the administration in its Eco-Lighthouse work. UiB’s environmental contact people must:
- Be our advisers and driving forces behind the environmental work of the faculties/divisions
- Follow up environmental activities at the faculties and in divisions
- Help ensure that the environmental work is integrated into ongoing management training
- Coordinate underlying units’ work on mapping their impact on the external environment and stimulating good environmental measures
- Assist the environmental coordinator with following up measures linked to UiB’s environmental goals
- Monitor and coordinate underlying units’ environmental work on behalf of faculty leadership or deputy directors general
- Collating results from the environmental work in units and reporting to the environmental coordinator
- Keep abreast of the university’s environmental work and have expertise in environmental management
Buildings and energy
UiB has 95 buildings, which together amount to space of around 415,000m2. In line with the ‘Master Plan for Space’, UiB is taking a systematic approach to developing a climate neutral real estate portfolio, within the constraints refurbishing older and listed buildings entail.
In 2021, our work centred around measures that ensure good space utilisation, significantly lower net energy consumption and steadily increasing local renewable energy generation. In the years to come, UiB’s building stock will be made more efficient and significantly rationalised. This will contribute to a more appropriate real estate portfolio that will contribute to lower GHG emissions from our buildings.
UiB will have around 11,000 solar panels on its roofs in 2025. This means that almost all of the roofs on UiB’s buildings will be filled with solar panels. The focus on solar panels on campuses started in 2020, when the first systems were installed on the roofs of the odontology building and Alrek health cluster. Once all of the solar panels are in place, they will generate two to three gigawatt hours of electricity a year.
Halving energy consumption in a renovated signal building
Nygårdsgaten 5 (NG5) will be UiB’s first building to gain comprehensive eco-certification. Once the ongoing refurbishment has been completed towards the end of 2023, it will use half as much energy as before. The refurbishment of NG5 is an important part of UiB’s Service Development programme, which is designed to develop the future administration of the university. UiB’s entire central administration will be located in the building.
UiB will take district heating from heat pumps in Puddefjorden to heat NG5. The building is also linked to BKK’s district heating system, and both the roofs and ground are well-insulated. There will be solar panels on the roofs and UiB will reap major environmental benefits from using existing building shells and re-using technical equipment and interiors.
New control system
A new system for central operational control will, once it is completed, provide real-time overviews of factors such as CO2 levels and air humidity in UiB’s 95 buildings. This will allow the indoor climate to be controlled at a room-by-room level for the benefit for students, staff and the environment. The system will take account of factors such as weather forecasts and usage patterns. Estimates show that the new system could result in energy savings of 5-10%.
Local heating system
UiB currently operates a local heating system that is an essential part of the energy supply for UiB’s buildings in Nygårdshøyden. The Estate and Facilities Management Division is continuously increasing its utilisation by, for example, upgrading the energy distribution centres in the connected buildings. In 2022, we started up new heat pumps in Christies Gate 12, and new heat pumps will be installed in the U.Pihls building in Nygårdsgaten 5 during the course of the year.
Plans are also being made for a completely new heat pump system in the natural sciences building, which will save 8 million kWh a year. Given current energy prices, the system will pay for itself in less than 5 years. The new system will be important in achieving climate neutrality by reducing current district heating consumption. It will also contribute to highly energy efficient cooling for the buildings in Nygårdshøyden South.
UiB is working closely with suppliers and partners to ensure that our construction project’s climate footprint is as low as possible. Rules for procurement and material consumption, as well as a focus on renewable energy and heating systems are important means of achieving this. The university also re-uses interiors and technical equipment extensively.
All of UiB’s faculties, staff and students must generate as little waste as possible. The waste that is generated must be disposed of properly and safely.
UiB procures more than NOK 1.7 billion of goods and services a year. Procurements thus account for a significant portion of UiB’s budget. In 2020, UiB approved a new procurement strategy for 2020-2024. The emphasis here is on supporting the organisation’s main strategy and, among other things, supporting the work on achieving the overarching climate and environmental goals.
An important focus area is measures for reducing procurements in general, for example by facilitating re-use, increasing product service life and rationalising the use of available resources.
Procurements and consumption of furniture
Increased re-use and fewer procurements of new furniture are important reasons why UiB, together with the city of Bergen and Vestland County Authority, will in spring 2022 be conducting a survey for a potential joint project on the re-use and circular flow of furniture between the three organisations. All of the organisations have storage solutions for used furniture and the possibility of creating a joint used market across the organisations would be a good opportunity to increase the re-use of furniture and at the same time reduce the carbon footprint from furniture procurements.
Framework agreement for gift and mechanising materials
UiB has a framework agreement with three different suppliers of gift and merchandising articles, each with their own unique product range, in line with the decision of UiB’s Climate Neutral Steering Group. The decision states that the framework agreement must only contain quality products that are as climate friendly as possible, and UiB must have a goal of reducing consumption by 20%. Based on this, the most appropriate approach is considered to be to have supplementary internal catalogues that cover the total range.
The product range also consists of local, organic food and beverages, such as apple juice from Hardanger and honey from Sotra. The textile products satisfy both environmental and social considerations by being certified in line with Nordic Ecolabel, Fairtrade and GOTS. Gifts of great symbolic value are also included in the range, e.g. wooden owls and wooden cutting boards from Fløyen in Bergen.
One important contribution to ensuring a lower climate footprint for construction projects at UiB is the use of BREEAM-NOR. This is a Norwegian variant of the most widely used certification scheme for construction projects in the world. Using BREEAM-NOR involves both certifying major construction projects and using the method in smaller projects, which entails, for example, raising awareness with a view to selecting construction materials based on GHGs and measuring the carbon footprint that a construction project represents.
At the request of UiB, Asplan Viak drew up a document concerning registering the consumption of materials by all suppliers in framework agreements for construction disciplines. The aim is to contribute both to increased knowledge and to reducing the climate footprint from our construction materials. The work will also provide better source data for life cycle analyses (LCAs) and for future climate reports.
Recycling IT hardware
With more than 4,000 staff, a lot of IT hardware is in use at UiB. Re-using PCs, mobile phones and hard drives allows UiB to reduce both its climate footprint and support the circular economy. Everything from laptops to mobile phones, printers and PC screens were handed in 2021; totalling more than 3.4 tonnes of used hardware. This keeps outdated hardware in the cycle to achieve the best possible resource efficiency.
Some 62% of all the equipment handed in during 2021 was re-used. This means that the scheme spared the environment of more than 77.6 tonnes of CO2 equivalents.
UiB’s catering agreement makes it simple to choose eco-friendly alternatives. The agreement is based on vegetarian food as the default, seasonal organic ingredients and ethical delivery. The agreement was signed based on the decision taken by the University Board in November 2019. This said that vegetarian food should be the default when procuring catering, although it should be possible to actively choose both meat and fish, as well as vegan options.
During the tender competition for the agreement, there was also an emphasis on the suppliers having established procedures for minimising food waste, the food being produced in an organic, sustainable and fair way, and the suppliers being able to offer local, seasonal food products.
Emissions from travel must be halved by 2025 with average annual travel cuts of 10%. UiB’s travel policy, approved by the University Board in November 2019, represents a step towards achieving a structured and more conscious relationship towards travel activities in the institution. This applies to emissions, the number of journeys, and the potential time that could be released for other activities.
Less travel in general, and fewer flights in particular, will not just have a positive impact for the climate and environment, it will also save time and money.
Bike friendly university
In September 2021, UiB was officially certified as ‘Norway's first bike-friendly university’. The certification process was carried out in collaboration with the Norwegian Cycling Federation and consisted of inspections of all of UiB’s locations to survey the current bike facilities, as well as a travel habits survey among students and staff.
The university has followed this up with a number of measures, including upgrading existing bike sheds with safe charging for e-bikes, servicing stations, better lighting, security cameras and burglar alarms. The work will continue in the coming years with the goal of encouraging UiB’s around 20,000 students and 4,000 staff to choose eco-friendly means of getting to and from work and class.
The Climate Fund
The decision to establish the university’s Climate Fund was taken in 2020. Some 37 measures proposed by staff and students were awarded support in four rounds in 2021. The fund is designed to finance measures aimed at getting staff and students involved in reducing the university’s climate footprint.
So far, the fund has financed measures to reduce travel activities and consumption, as well as projects within new thinking and innovation. The Climate Fund makes NOK 5 million available a year and is managed by UiB’s Climate Neutral Steering Group.
UiB is working to become more climate and eco-friendly, both on its own campuses and through active participation in networks focused on the climate and environment.
- UiB was a co-founder of Climate Partners Vestland, a public-private cooperative network designed to reduce the partners’ GHG emissions.
- The Nordic Sustainable Campus Network (NSCN) is a network of Nordic universities that want to boost their focus on sustainable development in research, education and operations.
- UiB contributed to its establishment and is itself a partner in the #plastsmart-nettverket headed by the Bergen Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
European Climate Pact
In addition to participating in and coordinating the Horizon 2020 project COMFORT, UiB has anchored some our climate goals in a European Climate Pact.
What does this mean in practice?
Through the European Climate Pact, UiB has pledged to the following goals (with 2018 as the base year):
- A 50% reduction in travels within 2025
- A 30% reduction in energy consumption within 2025
- A 40% reduction in emissions from goods and services within 2025
The goals are, and shall be, in accordance with the UiB Environment Action Plan.
In addition to these goals, UiB and COMFORT will continue to contribute to the fight against climate change through production and dissemination of relevant knowledge.
How shall UiB reach these goals?
- UiB will reduce the travel activity of the university employees with 50% through an annual reduction of 10% towards 2025. This is done in accordance with the UiB travel policy from 2019, which includes advice to employees on what considerations they should make before they travel (for example, consider digital meeting platforms or travel by train instead of plane).
- Between 10-12 000 solar panels will be installed on the roofs of UiB’s buildingss within 2025. These will produce between 2-3 gigawatt of electricity each year.
- The university heating system will be modernized. For example, through the installation of a new heat pump. This system will be in operation from 2024 and will save approximately 7-10 GWh each year.
- Purchase of goods and services is the largest emitter at UiB, and within that area, buildings and property management is responsible for approximately 50% of all UiB emissions. We seek to reduce these emissions by using the BREEAM method for construction projects, rehabilitation of old buildings, and maintenance projects. At UiB we are also heavily focusing on reusing furniture.
- We also have the following goals when it comes to purchases:
We will increase the number of framework purchasing agreements that require primary data on climate emissions to 40 within 2024 (from 9 in 2019).
We will work towards a 20% increase in primary data in our carbon accounting for purchase of goods and services, rather than settle for secondary data.
We will increase the number of suppliers with a certified environmentally friendly management by 20%, and increase the number of framework agreement suppliers with the same certification by 35%.
- UiB will, working through COMFORT, produce first class knowledge that can contribute directly to political and societal action. In order to contribute to the Green Shift, UiB will collaborate with citizens, students and decision makers on the national and international level.