EFEU: Emission Free European Universities
Strategic Development of Students' Sustainability Competencies in Engineering Sciences
Advancing Sustainability Competencies and Carbon Neutrality in Engineering Disciplines
Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) play an essential role in shaping the future of our society. They are spaces that provide persons with critical knowledge, skills, and insights in confronting contemporary and future challenges. In particular, the mandates of the 2030 Agenda, which articulates the 17 SDGs, assign a double role to HEIs: they must incorporate the SDGs into their (graduate and undergraduate) teaching and research, and they must be a society-transforming agent, contributing to fulfilling the 2030 Agenda (REDS, 2020).
Many HEIs have adopted policies, educational programs, modules, and practices to promote sustainability. Nevertheless, university campuses still have significant carbon footprints and bear other substantial negative environmental impacts. The commuting of staff and students, administrative, learning and laboratory activities as well as cleaning, transportation, restaurant and other ancillary undertakings contribute to the poor environmental performance of universities.
The environmental impact of the operation of HEIs was particularly noticeable during the COVID-19 pandemic when online education became necessary. Scientific research conducted by researchers Filimonau et al. (2020), Mustafa et al. (2022), and Yin et al. (2022) recorded an observable reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of universities during the mandated lockdown. In fact, researchers Filimonau et al. (2020) estimated as much as a 30% reduction in the carbon footprint of a medium-sized English university during the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although there is a need for further research to explore the carbon (dis) benefits as well as the quality of learning more deeply for different teaching models, it still begs the question: how can universities encourage sustainable practices and incorporate the necessary changes in learning and teaching activities to improve overall environmental performance?
This is where EFEU will play a critical role and offer impactful approaches. The project is focused on transforming learning and teaching activities so that HEIs campuses can evolve into true beacons of sustainability.
Who are we?
The project consortium is made up of four universities: Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW) of Germany – project lead, the Polytechnic Institute of Leiria (IPL) of Portugal, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences of Finland, and the Polytechnic University of Hauts-de-France (UPHF) in France. For the period of December 31st, 2022 to May 30th, 2025, the Erasmus + Strategic Partnership, under the direction of the German Academic Exchange Service, will commit €250, 000.00 to ensure the successful execution of the project’s activities.
What we do
Three objectives have been clearly outlined for this project:
- To reduce greenhouse gas emissions of European HEI’s
- To support European HEI’s on their way to carbon neutrality
- To strengthen European universities’ social responsibility
These objectives will be achieved through the following planned activities:
- The development and dissemination of a harmonised tool and methodology dedicated to the calculation of the carbon footprint of partner universities
- The assessment of the carbon footprint of each University’s Campus
- The creation and administration of a sustainability awareness and mobility study
- The delivery of new content to existing engineer curricula and modules that aim to:
- encourage eco-friendly and innovative teaching and learning behaviour,
- increase sustainability awareness, and
- intensify competencies and skills in the fields of sustainability and engineering
5. The hosting of summer school, participation in conferences, webinars, etc. and the publication of results.
Germany - Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg
Prof. Dr. Klaus Homann
Industrial Engineering and Management Department
Finland – Metropolia Ammattikorkeakoulu Oy
Prof. Dr. Jorma Säteri
School of Real Estate and Construction