At the beginning of this year, Delta spoke to GreenTU's Sharina Ligtelijn about installing GreenTeams at all faculties and making TU Delft more sustainable. As a GreenTeam coordinator, Ligtelijn had one clear goal: by the end of the 2019/2020 academic year, she wanted the staff and students to know the teams at their respective faculties and wanted the first inventory reports to be complete.
But then came Covid-19. Most of the TU Delft campus was closed and the GreenTeams were forced to rethink their workarounds. Ligtelijn, as a coordinator, was entrusted with supporting and encouraging the teams to ‘just keep going’. “Which was pretty hard in the first two weeks,” she recalls. “Some teams had just worked out detailed plans to gather on-campus information for their inventory report and were worried about how to carry on. Besides that, everyone was just adjusting to the situation. We had to figure out how to communicate through Zoom and some teams had barely met in person yet.”
The Applied Sciences GreenTeam communicated a lot through Zoom. (Photo: AS GreenTeam)
Luckily, the teams quickly focused on what was possible instead of what couldn’t be done. This led to some creative initiatives like the Civil Engineering & Geosciences GreenTeam that snapped pictures of waste bins at their Faculty so that they could analyse the location of waste bins even when their Faculty was closed.
‘Bring your own plates and cutlery to reduce waste’
“It was like a fire had ignited and all the teams picked up where they had left off.” That spark led to the issuing of inventory reports for five faculties. These reports give an overview of both how faculties are already incorporating sustainability and recommendations on how they can improve. “The team at the Aerospace Engineering Faculty for example found that the promotional material for master events was inconsistent. At presentations, the Faculty would talk about its focus on sustainability in the education, but it did not write this in the flyers that were handed out.” According to Ligtelijn, this shows that even the smallest findings can have a big impact. This is also true for the EEMCS team that took a closer look at the freshmen weekends hosted by study associations. “They saw that one association would ask students to bring their own plates and cutlery, thereby reducing waste by not using single-use plastics. The EEMCS team hopes to encourage other associations at its Faculty to do the same.”
Now that the teams have assessed the current status of sustainability at their faculties and made recommendations for the coming years, they will implement and further develop their ideas. One of these ideas is to create a flowchart for students who are interested in sustainability. “The chart allows students from different faculties to explore the ‘green programmes’ on offer at TU Delft. These can be MOOCs, electives, minors, or even master programmes.”
The structure of faculty-related sustainability teams also draws international attention. Before the outbreak of the coronavirus, Ligtelijn and her colleague Marijn van Steen were set to speak at the International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN) conference in Lausanne, Switzerland. When the event was cancelled, they were asked to present and host a workshop online. Unsure of the number of participants they prepared for 20 people, but also kept in mind that there may only be two or three attendees. “But in the end, 350 people signed up! This was a huge number. We presented to over 350 people and had to put a limit on the number of participants for the workshop.” With attendees from all over the world, the GreenTeams are now in contact with three Dutch universities and one abroad. “We want to share our knowledge and experiences and help them set up similar programmes.”
At TU Delft all the GreenTeams will continue their work after the summer break. “And, once a team is set up at Industrial Design Engineering, we will have teams in every faculty,” concludes Ligtelijn.
- How sustainable are the faculties? Find out here.
- Are you interested in helping out the GreenTeam at your faculty? You can always email the team to find out how you can help.