An environmental management model for universities: from

Journal of Cleaner Production 10 (2002) 3–12
Papers from 1999 Environmental Management Conference—“Sustainable Education”
An environmental management model for universities: from
environmental guidelines to staff involvement
Peter Viebahn
University of Osnabrück, Institute of Environmental Systems Research, 49069 Osnabrück, Germany
Received 26 May 2000; accepted 9 April 2001
The environmental pollution caused by universities in the form of energy and material consumption could be considerably reduced
by an effective choice of organisational and technical measures. Examples of environmental protection measures can be seen at
several universities, but a professional environmental management system (EMS) for universities with a systematic approach to
reduce the consumption of resources is lacking. At the University of Osnabrück, the basis for a university-related EMS has been
developed for the first time in Germany, the use of which is also possible by other universities. Beginning in autumn 1999, this
EMS will gradually be implemented at the University of Osnabrück.  2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Ecobalance; Environmental management system; Material and energy flow analysis; Operational environmental protection; University
1. Introduction: necessity of environmental
protection at universities
1.1. Environmental damage on par with commercial
A total of 2.36 million people (1.84 million students
and 520 000 staff) learn, lecture, research and work at
334 different universities, colleges and polytechnics in
Germany [1]. With regard to their consumption of
energy and materials, universities are therefore comparable to large commercial concerns. Environmental pollution not only occurs in lecture halls and research laboratories, but also in the area of administration. This
pollution could be reduced considerably by the systematic implementation of organisational and technical measures. For example, a third of all energy consumed in
public institutions could be saved with the introduction
of such measures [2,3]. If the University of Osnabrück
were to reduce its energy consumption by just 20% it
could save 500 000 DM in energy costs every year.
However, the necessity to become more involved in
* Tel.: +49 541 969 2589; fax: +49 541 969 2599.
E-mail address: [email protected]
environmental protection should not be guided by financial arguments alone: universities make a significant
contribution to the development of our society, and
therefore have a special societal responsibility, in particular with regard to the sustainable protection of the
environment and the use of resources. University
environmental protection projects can encourage other
public institutions to act, thus making the universities
role models.
1.2. Lack of control instruments
On the commercial level, environmental aspects have
already been taken into consideration in several concepts
for ecological-oriented business planning [4–6]. The
control instruments required to influence the ecological
consumption of resources generally do not exist for the
higher education sector. On the contrary, impediments
to the implementation of environmental protection concepts abound.
앫 Firstly, there are no legal regulations for economising
measures. To date, safety issues (e.g. toxic and hazardous waste) have dominated environmental protection measures at universities. Measures related to the
ecological use of resources (e.g. saving energy and
water, reducing traffic, environmentally friendly
0959-6526/01/$ - see front matter  2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
PII: S 0 9 5 9 - 6 5 2 6 ( 0 1 ) 0 0 0 1 7 - 8
P. Viebahn / Journal of Cleaner Production 10 (2002) 3–12
methods of construction, nature protection) are carried
out on a voluntary basis.
앫 Unlike hierarchically structured organisations in the
market economy and other public institutions, universities still function in a “heterarchic” fashion, that is,
with organisational structures in which the feeling of
responsibility is often lacking. This is the reason why
instruments that have been proven in the market economy could not be applied to the higher education sector, and resource-saving measures could not be
implemented via central regulations.
앫 Whilst incentives exist in the market economy to
encourage staff to use resources carefully, this is
impossible in the higher education sector, which has
an unconducive financial system, and where there is
a lack of productivity orientation.
forerunner role as an environmentally friendly university. It boasts the lowest consumption of electricity for
universities in Lower Saxony, with regard to usable floor
space, for example. The aim of the material and energy
flow analysis was to show where the problems of pollution lie so that specific environmental protection measures can be taken. Besides technical improvements, measures in the non-investment areas in particular were to
be elaborated, since the environmentally friendly behaviour of university members alone could achieve great
savings. For this reason the following key areas were
targeted for the planned environmental management system (EMS) at the University of Osnabrück:
1. Recording and modelling the material and energy
flows of the University and developing an ecobalance.
2. Elaboration of instruments to reduce environmental
1.3. Resource-saving comprehensive concept required
Despite these impediments, many German university
administrations have managed to take measures to
improve the environmental friendliness of their respective institutions (an overview of 1994 is given in [7]).
More and more students, academic assistants and professors are becoming aware of the situation, and contribute to the work in the form of study groups, projects
and research [8]. However, there is a complete lack of
a resource-saving comprehensive concept containing an
agreed package of measures encompassing all areas
related to the higher education sector, and which
attempts to overcome the above-mentioned impediments. Conventional “administrative action” no longer
suffices — professional environmental management is
now required in the higher education sector. Using the
example of University of Osnabrück, a model unique in
Germany was elaborated containing the basis for such
an environmental management concept.
2. Idea of the project
The project “Material and energy flow analysis of a
university — development of an environmental management system for universities using the example of the
University of Osnabrück” (in the following ‘project’ for
short) was elaborated in cooperation with the Institute
of Environmental Systems Research, the Environmental
Protection Working Group of the university and the university administration. The project was sponsored by the
Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (German Federal
Environmental Foundation) from November 1995 to
April 1998, and thereafter was financed by university
With its 12 500 students and 1250 members of staff,
the University of Osnabrück already fulfils a certain
At the same time, the EMS should be based on the
EMAS 1 Directive of the European Union [9], which
aims to achieve a continual and long-term improvement
of environmental protection at work.
3. The “Osnabrück Environmental Management
Model for Universities” as the project’s result
3.1. An overview of the model’s building blocks
The result of the project is the “Osnabrück Environmental Management Model for Universities”. However,
it was ensured that it could be applied to other institutions of higher education. For simplicity it was divided
into ten ‘building blocks’ which can be carried out step
by step. In most cases it suffices to adapt the building
blocks shown in Fig. 1 to the structures of the university
in question.
The numbering of the building blocks is a recommendation of which order to carry out the steps when constructing an EMS for a university. However, it also
depends on the university’s prerequisites and which
areas have possibly already been dealt with in another
context. Additional elements can of course also be integrated into the system. The external building blocks
form the framework for the inner steps. This course is
particularly recommended if the EMS is to be carried
out according to the EMAS directive, since most of the
building blocks then become obligatory. Procedure
requirements should be developed for each building
block in which the aims of the university are stated, who
EMAS=Environmental Management and Audit Scheme, EWG
No. 1836/93, 29th June 1993.
P. Viebahn / Journal of Cleaner Production 10 (2002) 3–12
tasks is supplemented by a central position in the university management: The Environmental Management
Coordinator is responsible for bringing together and
coordinating the individual environmental areas, answers
any enquiries that may arise, collects ideas and carries
out public relations work.
At the University of Osnabrück environmental protection aspects were particularly taken into consideration in
the areas of waste, dangerous substances and energy saving, thanks to the personal dedication of the staff
involved. The described organisational idea was
developed to implement professional environmental
management, but has not yet been carried out. In
addition to the Environmental Protection Working
Group, which already existed before the elaboration of
an EMS, a project group on waste avoidance was
brought into being at the end of 1997 to prepare and
accompany the implementation of a new waste concept.
The following tasks still have to be carried out:
앫 nomination of the president as the top management
앫 creation of a position for the Environmental Management Coordinator; and
앫 optimisation of the organisational structure within the
university’s administrative departments.
Fig. 1. Building blocks of “Osnabrück’s Environmental Management
Model for Universities”.
is responsible for which areas, and which tasks are then
appointed to those responsible.
In addition to the following description of each building block, their present implementation at the University
of Osnabrück is also portrayed.
3.2. The individual building blocks
3.2.1. Building block EM 1: organisational structure
In the building block ‘organisational structure’ it is
decided how to set up and carry out environmental protection within the running of the university. A functionally-integrative organisational structure is recommended: instead of creating a separate department for
environmental protection the environmental aspects are
increasingly integrated into the existing task areas of the
administration which have already been involved in
environmental protection. The advantage of staff members becoming responsible for environmental protection
in their own areas is that the responsibility does not lie
with a small number of specialists. Furthermore, the
specialist knowledge in the individual areas can then be
utilised. The integration of environmental protection
3.2.2. Building block EM 2: environmental guidelines
The environmental guidelines act as the basis for all
environment-related activities at the university. They
represent the university’s ‘environmental policy’ which
determines the overall objectives and basic principles of
environmental protection. The guidelines represent the
voluntary commitment regarding protection of the
environment, both for staff within the university and outside the university. The environmental guidelines of the
University of Osnabrück were elaborated by the
Environmental Protection Working Group from March
1996 to March 1997, and discussed at length within the
administration, the faculties and by the university management. This guaranteed the inclusion of all university
groups in the development of the guidelines. The senate
unanimously adopted the guidelines on 16.4.1997, thus
setting a precedence for a German university (cf. Appendix A).
3.2.3. Building block EM 3: external environmental
When constructing an EMS in accordance with
EMAS, a procedure to register and internally publish all
legal, administrative and environmental requirements
needs to be developed and continued. This procedure is
also recommended even if an ecoaudit is not intended.
Although the fulfilment of legal requirements ought to
P. Viebahn / Journal of Cleaner Production 10 (2002) 3–12
be self-evident, examples exist in all universities to show
that obligations are not being fulfilled [10]. Examples at
Osnabrück show that this can be a result of the university
members’ lack of knowledge on the subject. In the
environmental management project the various different
regulations at federal, state and local level were first of
all compiled. A procedure as demanded by the EMAS
has not yet been submitted.
3.2.4. Building block EM 4: environmental audit (life
cycle assessment)
Building block 4 involves carrying out an environmental audit of the university in order to obtain an overview of its environmental relevance. With a list of all
input and output materials and energy flows at the university it can be determined where extensive measures
need to be implemented to reduce resource consumption.
Simultaneously, the lists form the basis for an analysis
of the effects the respective materials have on the
environment. There are several different ways of carrying out an ecoaudit; in Osnabrück it was implemented
by way of a life cycle assessment (LCA) based on ISO
14 040 [11]. Following this an LCA includes the four
steps: goal and scope definition, inventory analysis,
impact assessment and interpretation [12])2. The relevant material and energy flows were modelled using
the ecobalance software Umberto, an interactive tool
developed by the Institute of Energy and Environmental
Research (IFEU) in Heidelberg and the Institute of
Environmental Computer Sciences (IFU) in Hamburg
The inventory analysis was first of all carried out for
the University of Osnabrück, the objectives of which
were as follows:
앫 The inventory analysis aims to give an overview of
the (most important) material and energy flows concerning the university and its buildings. Only then are
the specific measures taken in the individual buildings
or environmental areas (top–down procedure). The
advantage of the top–down as opposed to the bottom–
up procedure, where individual buildings are first
investigated in depth and the results are then adjusted
to the whole university, is that the evaluator does not
get bogged down with too much detail, thus forgetting
the overall objective.
앫 Another objective was not just to consider the direct
influence of the university, but also to include the
ISO 14 040 relates to LCAs for products as well as for services.
The problem with LCAs for universities is to define the ‘product’ of
the university and a corresponding ‘functional unit’, relate the material
and energy flows to it and choose a better ‘product’ as a result of the
impact assessment. However, a comparative assessment of different
years and between different universities which uses the same impact
assessment method is possible.
material and energy flows that occur before and after
their actual consumption. For electricity consumption, for example, this means the chain from the
extraction of the raw material via the power stations
to its delivery to the university. The aim of this is to
include processes that hardly affect the direct running
of the university, but the manufacture or disposal of
which make a great environmental impact. The omission of these would falsify the comprehensive balance. The inventory analysis can therefore be split
into two separate balances: the core and the complementary balances. According to the Swiss method
“Ökobilanzen für Unternehmen” (Ecobalances for
companies) the core balance includes those processes
that occur in the company itself (e.g. energy supply
or waste disposal). All other areas belong to the
complementary balance (e.g. company commuter travel, sewage treatment) [14].
앫 Finally, special attention should be paid to the university’s CO2 emissions. With regard to the CO2
reduction target of the federal government (a 25%
reduction by the year 2005 in relation to 1990) and
the decision of the City of Osnabrück to reduce its
CO2 emissions (a reduction of 50% by the year 2010
in relation to 1987), the University is also obliged to
reduce its CO2 emissions. The aim was therefore to
identify the CO2 emissions on the university scale,
and for each separate building. Besides the first two
objectives, which are the prerequisite for an exact
audit of CO2 emissions, the (energy-related) emissions are to traced back to the individual buildings,
so that a table of CO2 emitters can be drawn up.
Moreover, it should be possible to compare CO2
emissions related to energy, traffic and (waste) water.
Table 1 shows for which areas the life cycle inventory
analysis has been carried out. Data from 1996 were generally used for the overall balance.
The impact assessment phase of the LCA was carried
out using a procedure proposed by the German Federal
Environmental Agency (UBA) [15]. It is the realisation
of the method of impact categories described in ISO 14
040 and implemented in Umberto. The inventory data
was assigned to ten different impact categories and modelled within these categories. Finally, the categories were
weighted against each other. Table 2 shows the results
of the impact assessment.
The most significant results are that the University
contributes ‘considerably’ towards both categories ‘Consumption of fossil energy resources’ and ‘Greenhouse
effect’. The main causes of this are electricity and heat
consumption as well as traffic. In order to improve its
environmental situation the University was recommended to reduce its CO2 emissions, its consumption
of fossil energy resources and its methane emissions.
The implementation of these measures would in turn
P. Viebahn / Journal of Cleaner Production 10 (2002) 3–12
Table 1
Parts of the life cycle inventory analysis with the period of timea
Waste water
Material and energy flows
Period of time
All consumption of heat and electricity
in the individual buildings and their
pre-processes, as well as the emissions
caused by it.
Energy consumption and emissions due
to commuter traffic (staff and students)
and internal traffic (business trips and
vehicles), both directly and in the preprocesses.
All water consumption in the individual
Waste water from the University, as
well as material and energy
consumption involved in waste water
Consideration of chemicals, the most
important office items, use of paper and
some sanitary materials.
All occurring waste, such as hazardous
waste, electronic waste, residual waste,
paper, plastics and polystyrene.
Consideration of the built on, sealed
and natural areas.
Core balance
Complementary balance
(1995), 1996
cf. Waste water Umberto
cf. waste
X=already carried out, /=not applicable, F=consideration has yet to be carried out.
Table 2
Results of the University’s life cycle impact assessment
Impact category
1. Consumption of raw-materials
1.1. Fossil energy resources
1.3. Wood
1.4. Water
1.5. Nuclear power
2. Greenhouse effect
3. Ozone depletion
4. Human toxicological impacts
4.1. Lead
4.2. Carbon monoxide
4.3. Sulphur dioxide
4.4. Dust
5. Ecotoxicological impacts
5.1. Ammonia
5.2. Fluorcarbon
5.3. Sulphur dioxide
5.4. Dust
5.5. Nitrogen oxide
6. Photo-oxidant formation (ozone)
7. Acidification
8. Eutrophication
9. Deposits
10. Noise
10.1. Far
10.2. Near
lead to an improvement of those categories for which a
‘medium-sized’ impact was ascertained: ‘ecotoxicological impacts of NOx’, ‘photo-oxidant formation’, ‘acidification’, ‘eutrophication’ and ‘nuclear power’.
Very high
Not analyzed
Small to medium
Very high
Small to medium
Small to medium
Small to medium
Not analyzed
Not analyzed
3.2.5. Building block EM 5: environmental goals
In this building block the university sets its environmental goals, as a comparison to the actual situation
given in the LCA and the level of technology, the legal
requirements, the environmental guidelines or the relevance to society. The goals, which should contain commitment to the continual improvement of the environmental situation at the university, need to be adopted by
the senate. They then apply to all university members.
In its environmental guidelines the University of
Osnabrück committed itself to “set environmental goals
with the involvement of university members, and to construct an environmental management system to
implement them”. The environmental goals have been
developed within the framework of the project and are
still in discussion with those responsible in the various
administrative departments and the university management.
3.2.6. Building block EM 6: environmental
An environmental programme is developed in order
to implement the requirements described in the environ-
P. Viebahn / Journal of Cleaner Production 10 (2002) 3–12
mental goals, containing measures for each of the abovedescribed environmental areas. Whilst the environmental
goals are to be attained in the medium term, the environmental programme is to be realised in the short term.
Depending on its implementation, the environmental
programme influences the ecoaudits of future years.
Alongside the ecoaudit, this building block represents
the most extensive section, since it also contains the concrete implementation of the measures.
Like the environmental goals the environmental programme is still in discussion within the university.
3.2.7. Building block EM 7: environmental report
Building block 7 involves writing an environmental
report for the university, the aim of which is to inform
the public and university members about environmental
measures that have already been implemented, and those
which still have to be carried out. Unlike the environmental reports of many businesses, its intention is not to
give superficial information in the form of promotional
material. It could contain a different key area each year,
but should always report about the environmental situation of the university. It also serves as part of building
block 10 (public relations work). The University of
Osnabrück’s “1999 Environmental Report” will be produced as soon as the environmental goals, the environmental programme and the way in which to further
implement the environmental management system have
been decided upon.
3.2.8. Building block EM 8: environmental
information system
The aim of building block 8 is to establish an environmental information system (EIS) for the university which
corresponds to the requirements of the environmental
management system. The main objective of the EIS is
to collect, administrate and present all of the relevant
data regarding the university in the above-mentioned
environmental areas. For this the databanks at the operative level (the individual administrative departments)
need to be linked. On the one hand, the EIS should simplify the annual ecobalance. On the other hand, it should
facilitate an effective ecocontrolling of the university.
Furthermore, information concerning all of the environmental management building blocks can be prepared for
presentation to the public and members of the university,
for example, via an internal intranet. The EIS can then
also be used for environmental training and courses for
the staff.
A concept for an EIS for the University of Osnabrück
was developed in Ref. [16]. Its implementation is
intended within the framework of the general management information system, the development of which was
started in 1998 [17].
3.2.9. Building block EM 9: environmental training
and courses
One of the most significant building blocks
encompasses training and courses for university members regarding aspects of environmental protection. The
following areas are to be taken into consideration:
research/teaching, students, university administration.
Areas of importance include the significance of environmental policy, and the aims, programme and demands
arising from the EMS for the university, as well as the
effects of the individual positions on the environmental
situation of the university. In its environmental guidelines the University of Osnabrück committed itself to
offering “a range of environment-related training courses
for the staff”. Although individual environment-related
courses have taken place for over 2 years, a package of
events related to the implementation of the new waste
concept was offered in the first half of 1998.
3.2.10. Building block EM 10: staff involvement/public
relations work
Besides training courses, other measures are also
required to inform, motivate and involve the staff in
order to be able to implement environmental measures
as effectively as possible. This building block therefore
contains the involvement of university members and
related (internal) public relations work. Environmentally
friendly behaviour can be encouraged by keeping all
staff informed about relative projects within the framework of the environmental management system
(exhibitions, brochures, articles), as well as voluntary
participation in environmental management (working
groups, environmental clubs). It is recommended to
establish a suggestion pool in order to involve as many
members of staff as possible.
In its environmental guidelines the University of
Osnabrück committed itself to conduct ‘open discussions’ and carry out ‘specific public relations work’.
As a pilot project for this building block measures to
implement the new waste concept were organised in the
first half year of 1998. This included extensive public
relations work, a ‘waste project group’, excursions, a
waste action week and a ‘waste and dangerous
materials day’.
3.3. Uniting the building blocks to create an
environmental management system
As can be seen in Fig. 1, a number of relationships
exist between the individual building blocks. The building blocks, including the instructions concerning the
environmental procedure and their links, result in the
EMS. In particular, building blocks 2, 4, 5 and 6 are
not static, but mutually influence each other. First of all
environmental goals and an environmental programme
are derived from the first ecoaudit. The implementation
P. Viebahn / Journal of Cleaner Production 10 (2002) 3–12
of the environmental programme will lead to changes in
the environmental situation, which will find expression
in the results of the next ecoaudit. Additional aspects
may also be included in the ecobalances of later years.
Both the goals and the programme are modified after
each ecoaudit.
The results of the described steps form the basis for
an ecocontrolling system by the university management
and organisational units supported by the EIS. At the
same time, these results serve as a basis for measures to
involve and train the staff, which, like the environmental
guidelines and external environmental regulations,
influence the actions of individual university members.
They, on the other hand, can influence the environmental
situation, which will find expression in the results of the
next ecoaudit. The elements which serve as the general
framework (UM 2, environmental guidelines; UM 3,
environmental regulations; UM 9, Environmental training and courses; UM 10, staff involvement/public
relations work) can also be dealt with at the same time
as the remaining building blocks.
4. Discussion
4.1. Construction of the environmental management
The “Osnabrück Environmental Management Model
for Universities” was developed as an integrative overall
concept for an EMS at universities. It was primarily
geared towards the situation at the University of Osnabrück, but can be transferred to other universities without
major alterations. For the sake of clarity the various different measures were combined into ten building blocks,
which together form the EM model. This model provided the university with a scheme to follow for the final
introduction and later continuation of the EM. Likewise
the building blocks were constructed separately in order
to enable individual colleagues to deal with them separately, block by block. For example, the legal requirements (EM 3) can be completed by the legal department,
the environmental report (EM 7) can be written by the
press office, the EIS (EM 8) can be constructed by the
administrative data processing department, and the
organisation of further training courses (EM 9) can be
carried out by the personnel department. In this way the
system can effectively be integrated into the already
existing areas of work within the administration. This
means that it is not necessary to create a separate department of environmental protection. However, a central
position in the university management is required to
coordinate actions and carry out environmental planning.
This Environmental Management Coordinator is
intended to act as the central focal point of the whole
EMS (see below).
4.2. Material and energy flow analysis of the
The main emphasis of the development of the EM
model was the material and energy flow analysis, followed by the construction of an eco-balance. This part
of the project took up considerably more time and
required more data than originally planned. One reason
for this was the attempt to include as many as possible
of the material and energy flows directly caused by the
University into the eco-balance, even though only the
most important and relevant flows were considered. Furthermore, the majority of the data collection work had
to be carried out by the organisers. This led to the loss
of valuable time which had been scheduled for the development of concrete implementation measures. The data
collection also proved to be very time-consuming
because some of the data was not available in EDP-form.
A great deal of data were available in the areas of
energy, water and hazardous waste, which was due, on
the one hand, to the early development of an (almost)
suitable counting structure in the 35 university buildings,
and on the other hand, to the legal requirements to
implement the hazardous substance regulations. In the
other areas (see Building Block 4), the collection of data
was rather more difficult:
앫 data were not available because they had not been
required until then (e.g. commuter traffic, residual
waste and paper);
앫 data were only available in manual form (e.g. via
inventory lists in the materials stockroom);
앫 data were only available via invoices (e.g. waste
앫 data were included in files which could not be
accessed using SQL-enquiries (e.g. chemicals);
앫 data were collected and entered into files in order to
print them out, but were then deleted due to a lack
of space (e.g. business trip invoices); and
앫 data should have been known, but were not available
(area of the property).
Despite these limitations, however, a realistic LCA of a
university was carried out, thus providing other universities with a certain standard of procedure. In particular,
the evaluation of the material flows using the ISO
method of the impact categories was employed for the
first time for a university. Although it was not possible
to include all material and energy flows (e.g. the postprocess of waste disposal) the results facilitated the formation of concrete recommendations to the decisionmakers at the University, in particular with regard to the
reduction of energy consumption (electricity, heating,
traffic) and the resulting emissions, in order to achieve
a sustainable improvement of the pollution caused by
the University.
P. Viebahn / Journal of Cleaner Production 10 (2002) 3–12
4.3. Involvement of university staff
Collaboration with the administration was effected in
exemplary fashion. The contact partners took a great
deal of time and trouble to collect the relative data, and
to discuss and solve problems. Here the advantage of
collaborating with the administration and the university
management was proven.
Difficulties first arose when it came to implementing
the environmental protection measures. Whilst the collection of data can be looked upon as a standard task
within the administration, each and every member of the
university needs to change their way of thinking in order
to achieve a green university. Well-worn forms of
behaviour need to be taken into consideration, as well
as the scepticism about whether alternative suggestions
can lead to an improvement of the environmental situation or not. It was noticeable that many members of
staff who were receptive to the ‘green’ idea tended to
despair, since their earlier initiatives were often not followed, and solutions to environmental problems that had
been elaborated were not implemented for years. A lot
of effort is needed to convince people to continue their
good work. Moreover, a clear signal from the university
management is needed to show that they are serious
about environmental protection.
4.4. Need for an environmental management
Although many members of staff have already
become involved in promoting environmental aspects in
their various spheres of activity, the need for a central
Environmental Management Coordinator became apparent. In the past environmental aspects have not always
been taken into consideration in the decision-making
process, either due to a lack of time or knowledge. For
example, a controversial decision by the university management to no longer allow bicycles to be parked inside
university buildings led to a state of uncertainty among
the staff. This was counterproductive to the efforts made
to motivate more people to swap their cars for bicycles.
Advertising space was leased to an external company
without taking into consideration that their lighting consumes a considerable amount of electricity. The rectification of such errors leads to an unnecessary waste of
time and money, which could be avoided or improved
through a central Environmental Management Coordinator. Furthermore, the development of the environmental management has to be directed (setting the environmental goals, implementation of the environmental
programme, continuation of the ecobalance). In addition,
measures are required to provide information and motivate staff, which can be very time-consuming. Meanwhile the university management has decided to nominate an Environmental Management Coordinator for one
year, for the time being.
4.5. Application of the results to other universities
and their dissemination
In view of the heterogeneous structure of German universities it was not possible to take all types and sizes
of universities into consideration, since the University of
Osnabrück does not have departments for technology or
medicine. However, the modular system of the ten building blocks enables the concept to be used for universities
of a similar structure. Although the outer shape is given,
the concrete form can be adjusted according to the priorities of each respective university. For the environmental audit, for example, it is not necessary to proceed
according to ISO norms; the environmental aims and the
environmental programme will be different at each university, depending on the respective situation of the
material and energy consumption. However, the application of the model for the University of Osnabrück
demonstrates an exemplary conversion.
A final conference took place on 27–28 November
1998 in Osnabrück in which the results of the project
and those of other universities were presented. All contributions of the conference are published in Ref. [18].
The experience made so far is to be collected and published in book form at the beginning of 2000 in order
to assist other universities in constructing an EMS [19].
4.6. “German Network for an Environmentally Sound
Development of Universities”
Results from the project and the experiences made by
the implementation of the EMS will also be disseminated
through, the “German Network for an
Environmentally Sound Development of Universities”.
The network was established in 1999 by several German
universities in order to actively support a sustainable
development of universities, focusing on environmental
subjects. The project is carried out by the FHW Berlin
(Berlin School of Economics) and the University of
Osnabrück, and is promoted by the “Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt”. Its initial activities focus on communication, information and further education. As a basis for
the exchange of the particular knowledge and experience
of the universities serves an internet server, which is
being built up since the beginning of 19993.
The authors would like to thank the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (German Federal Environmental
Foundation), Osnabrück, for their financial support of
For further
P. Viebahn / Journal of Cleaner Production 10 (2002) 3–12
the project from November 1995 to April 1998. Furthermore we wish to thank Teresa Gehrs, University of
Osnabrück, for the translation of the text.
Appendix A. Guidelines for Environmental
Protection for the University of Osnabrück
A.1. Sustainable development
Sustainable development is development that meets
the needs of the present without compromising the
ability of future generations to meets their own needs
(World Commission on Environment and Development:
Our Common Future, 1987).
The University of Osnabrück feels obliged to follow
this principle of sustainable development, due to the dramatic global environmental state.
With its over 14 000 members and consumption of
energy and material, the University of Osnabrück is
comparable to a large commercial concern. The running
of the University causes considerable environmental
damage, which is to be minimised. Furthermore, the
University assumes a special societal responsibility, in
that it educates and leaves its mark on the future
decision-makers of our society. It takes on a multiplier
function, and therefore significant responsibility. Moreover, it should not be forgotten that academic research
also affects human beings and nature, and that universities are therefore particularly responsible for their
research aims and results.
Environmental protection should be the responsibility
of all students and employees, whilst at work and when
travelling to and from the University. It is an executive
duty for management personnel. The university will only
fulfil this task if as many university members as possible
identify themselves with the aims of environmental protection and sustainable development, and actively contribute to the implementation of such aims.
For this reason the University of Osnabrück has set
itself the following guidelines, in accordance with the
CRE-Charter for sustainable development (CRECOPERNICUS). These guidelines should be adopted by
all members of the University in their personal area of
work or studies, and implemented with innovation.
A.2. Guidelines for concern
We believe that protection of the environment means
preventing danger to people and the environment, the
continual reduction in the use of resources and energy,
and the minimisation of emissions and waste so that the
University can make its contribution to sustainable
1. In order to achieve this, the University will determine
environmental aims, with the involvement of University members, and will construct an effective environmental management system to put these aims into
action. The senate will report regularly on the
implementation of the system.
All University departments should be linked to the
environmental protection programme so that administration and the faculties cooperate in matters concerning environmental protection. Moreover, the University cultivates interchange with other universities to
promote the idea of environmental protection. It
endeavours to give political and social support in
order to achieve the aim of an environmentally friendly university oriented towards the principle of sustainable development.
The University conducts open dialogue and undertakes to inform the public so that its environmental
protection measures are transparent.
The University will provide education, training and
encouragement to its employees concerning environmental issues.
Prior to purchase, the environmental effects of
materials and equipment should be taken into consideration by the University. The most environmentally friendly variants should take precedence, if possible. The University influences its business partners
in order to improve the goods and services offered
with regard to the environment.
Legal and official requirements represent minimum
standards which, if possible, should be implemented
to an even higher level.
A.3. Guidelines for research and teaching
The University endeavours to give due weight to
environmentally relevant issues in research and teaching.
1. A requirement for the guarantee of freedom in
research and teaching is that lecturers and researchers
need to be aware of their responsibility for the ensuing consequences. This includes the maintenance of
natural resources for present and future generations.
Academic staff and students alike therefore endeavour
to minimise the negative consequences of their
research and teaching.
2. The University’s faculties and interdisciplinary institutions promote academic work in the environmental
field, in addition to participation in courses that deal
with environmental issues.
3. University members support the networking and interdisciplinary processing of environmentally relevant
issues in research and teaching at the University, also
in cooperation with other universities.
Adopted by the senate of the University of Osnabrück
on 16 April 1997.
P. Viebahn / Journal of Cleaner Production 10 (2002) 3–12
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