UM buildings: more money for more sustainability

At Maastricht University, making our buildings sustainable is a major challenge. The key lies in reducing our CO2 emissions while retaining user comfort, which calls for considerable long-term investments. To this end, the Executive Board has developed a €27.7 million investment package lasting until 2030. The plans were recently approved by the University Council.

Various sustainability measures have been implemented at UM in recent years. The main projects include:

  • construction of a solar park on the former Belvédère landfill site, now covering approximately 30% of the energy consumption of the UM buildings
  • renovation of Tapijn 11 in line with the sustainability guidelines BREEAM-NL and WELL-building, making the complex energy neutral
  • installation of LED lighting in various buildings; at the Grote Gracht, this reduced energy consumption by 33%
  • roof renovation, including installation of heat pumps and (additional) insulation.

In spring 2022, with the energy crisis looming, UM joined the government campaign ‘Zet ook de knop om’ (‘Flip the switch’). The heating in all university buildings was lowered by two degrees Celsius, and as of this summer, the temperature at which the air-conditioning is activated will be raised by two degrees. The effectiveness of these and other energy-saving measures hinges on the commitment of staff and students, who in recent years have become ever more aware of the need for sustainability.

Do more, and faster

Just as the urgency to conserve energy is increasing, so too is the realisation that more needs to be done to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. UM’s property portfolio will have to become more sustainable, more quickly. Given the large number of listed buildings to which special rules apply when installing double glazing, solar panels and other measures, this is a particular challenge for the university.

But it is possible, according to a study of three of our listed buildings by Huygen Installation Consultancy. The results for Bouillonstraat 1-3 (FL), Tongersestraat 53 (SBE) and Grote Gracht (FASoS) have been extrapolated to the entire property portfolio in the city centre. With a package of measures that can be implemented without major renovations, such as installing LED lighting and insulating facades, roofs and floors, natural-gas consumption can be reduced by approximately 34%. Combined with the reduction and greening of electricity consumption, this will result in a significant CO2 reduction that exceeds UM’s 2030 climate target.

Multi-year budget

For the buildings in Randwyck, Facility Services has identified various sustainability measures and estimated the cost of investing in solar panels on flat roofs. Based on all these external and internal inventories and estimates commissioned by the Executive Board, a multi-year budget to 2030 has been drawn up with a view to making UM’s property portfolio in Maastricht more sustainable.

The investments amount to a total of €27.7 million. This will enable the university to accelerate its sustainability transition in line with the models of the Universities of the Netherlands (UNL), and to remain on course to achieve post-2030 targets as well.

For investments of this magnitude, both the University Council and the Supervisory Board must be consulted. The latter has already indicated its willingness to support the increased commitment to sustainability. The approval of the University Council means the green light has now been given for implementation of the plans.