Ten years of environmental certification

This year marks the ten years since the University of Gothenburg became the first university in Sweden to receive environmental certification. This is being celebrated in the form of climate seminars and film performances.

A lot has happened in ten years. The biggest change has been the way the University has handled chemicals and carried out laboratory work. In 2004, the University had no system of chemicals management in place, and no laboratory directors had been appointed at any of the laboratories. Ullika Lundgren, environmental coordinator at the Faculty of Science, explains:

“There were quite simply no coordinated routines for the management of chemicals and laboratory work. For many years we were expected to carry out our own tests on the wastewater from our laboratories. In step with the University’s introduction of the environmental management system, the Environmental Administration felt that we could concentrate on preventive measures instead of testing. Today there is a regulation stating that public authorities must have an environmental management system.

Environmental coordinator Ullika Lundgren

Environmental coordinator Ullika Lundgren

BEING AN environmentally certified organisation means carrying out an environmental audit every year. Over a three-year period the Faculty is audited as a whole. The audit report notes deviations that need to be addressed. This can be anything from our failure to observe environmental legislation to students not receiving enough information on environmental consideration.
During these past ten years we have had 184 deviations within the Faculty of Science, and all of these have been addressed, which means that we are improving the whole time.”

TRAVEL IS another area being actively addressed by the University. Travel to and from work and business trips have been mapped, travel policies established and travel-free meetings developed. Today there are video conferencing facilities on many of the University’s premises. In 2010, the University also adopted a climate strategy. Just in time for its tenth anniversary, the University of Gothenburg was awarded the Excellence in Campus 2014 prize for its strategy. The prize is awarded by the International Sustainable Campus Network, which is a network of high-ranking universities such as Harvard and MIT.

THE ANNIVERSARY IS BEING CELEBRATED THROUGHOUT the autumn in the form of several climate seminars and film performances. In October, a festive event was held too which was open to all employees and at which the Vice-Chancellor gave a speech.
“Tjärnö Field Station outside Strömstad was one of the first university bodies to be given certification. We had a sneak start to the celebrations in the form of presenting the results of ten years’ environmental work while at the same time enjoying some cake,” Ullika Lundgren says.