Virgiel became the first climate neutral student association in the Netherlands, officially certified by the Climate Neutral Foundation.
The ban of rooftop solar panels on listed society buildings is still subject to discussion with the municipality. (Photo: K.S.V. Sanctus Virgilius)

Virgiel became the first climate neutral student association in the Netherlands, officially certified by the Climate Neutral Foundation.

Lees in het Nederlands

Virgiel has been working on sustainability for about five years now. This gained momentum when the society had to close down due to the corona measures, says External Commissioner Martijn Oetelmans. "That hit us hard, just like all other hospitality businesses. But we put a positive spin on it by using the closure to run a number of major sustainability projects, such as extra roof insulation. That was a lot easier when the building was almost empty than when the club would have been in full swing," says Oetelmans.

Ranking
Apart from the bilding, Virgiel also tackled other sustainability aspects: reduced water consumption, better separation of waste flows, a greener energy supplier, CO2 compensation and so on. "We also used Instagram to encourage our houses to work on sustainability too," adds Oetelmans. These combined efforts earned Virgiel first place in De Groene Pint, the annual sustainability league table for Dutch student associations. The prize linked to it is an official audit by the Climate Neutral Foundation. Virgiel scored enough points in the audit to earn the ‘climate neutral’ certificate.

Great importance
According to Oetelmans, the Virgilians are proud of this achievement. "Student associations may not be known for attaching great value to sustainability, but the subject is of great importance to the new generation. So we will continue to make our association more sustainable. For example, we would like to have solar panels on our roof, but that is not allowed on listed buildings like ours. Nevertheless, we are now discussing the options with the municipality of Delft. Hopefully, in due course Virgiel will be able to generate its own energy.”