Member Spotlight: EnSign real-world lab at Stuttgart University of Applied Sciences

Background:

Due to their roles in research and public service and as educators of future leaders, decision-makers and citizens, higher education institutions are understood to play a critical role in understanding and promoting sustainable development (SD). The German federal state of Baden-Württemberg, which has a goal of climate neutral administration by 2040, seeks to address these challenges by providing resources to its universities for sustainability transitions. This policy supports the broader German “Energiewende”, the national transition to a renewable energy-based, efficient and sustainable energy system.

Multiple ministries support this policy, including the ministry for science, research and the arts of Baden-Württemberg (MWK), which views the state as having both the responsibility and opportunity to implement SD principles. In 2013, the MWK minister specifically cited the use of real-world laboratories as the research concept most suited to this task because they bring stakeholders from universities, politics, administration and civil society together from the research start, allowing for solutions to be applied to real societal problems.

EnSign real-world laboratory Goals:

The nature of the sustainability problems is a wicked one, whereby classical methods of observation and modeling are insufficient and new approaches are needed to deal with confounding system connections, complexity, and ambiguity around the problem definition and potential solutions. It is understood that this complexity requires new societal paradigms, which in turn require new ways of producing knowledge and making decisions, moving toward system transformation not only optimization. Therefore, EnSign employs a transdisciplinary real-world lab approach by developing and testing energy efficiency technologies, urban development plans, financial schemes, and behavioral incentives supporting SD on its own buildings and users.

The main focus of the project is on the transformation process towards a climate neutral university whereby all relevant internal as well as numerous external stakeholders are included. This idea demands an integrative and innovative compilation of the different measures to be undertaken, improving the urban-planning situation; the structural condition of the building; the installed engineering including the operational concepts and internal processes; the supply of sustainable energies on the campus; new financing models for energy-saving measures in public buildings; development of a suitable mobility concept; a development strategy for urban planning and infrastructure (master energy plan); as well as considerable behavior modification of the various user groups of the university.

In order that the analyses in the project do not stagnate on a theoretical level but instead are carried out as essential objectives of this plan and become “real”, the State Office for Building and Construction is providing extensive investment. With these resources, the HFT is firmly embarked on a course towards becoming a climate neutral university.

Approach and Methods:

EnSign employs an iterative process (Fig. 1) involving the refinement of the research question via biannual co-production workshop series where objectives laid out in the project application are crafted into specific tasks, which are then transferred as tasks to the researchers and acted upon to produce target, system and transferable knowledge in collaboration with external partners. The results are then presented for further refinement or even the creation of subsequent questions, with a return to co-definition or in the future, re-integration into actual societal or scientific practice.

It is understood that incorporating non-academic stakeholders in this process may increase legitimacy, ownership and accountability for both problems and the potential solutions. Relevant social actors with practical knowledge who co-define research questions can be authorities on the obstacles for implementation and serve as pioneers for transformation knowledge. EnSign incorporates external stakeholders selected in part on their interest in contributing to climate neutral development in urban districts, their potential influence on implementation obstacles, and ability to transfer developed solutions into practice.

HFT

 

For any upcoming inquiries and further information, we are very glad to provide more details. Please feel free to contact us anytime: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

HFT2

https://www.hft-stuttgart.de/Forschung/Reallabor?set_language=en&cl=en

 

ISCN 2017: Highlights from Vancouver!

We're delighted to announce that our ISCN Summary Report has been released! We have received a lot of feedback on the conference on the engagement and connections make and are excited to share what we discussed in Vancouver with you!  Feel free to share the report with your colleagues to spark dialogue on connection, university-city collaboration, and more.

 

Check out the report!

The University of York’s campaign to improve campus habitats for bees and other pollinators

The University of York is characterised by two lakeside campuses that are home to an abundance of wildlife. The original campus is located on over 200 acres of parkland centred around an extensive lake and boasts a wide variety of environments, ideal for supporting the University’s aim to diversify their habitat and broaden their species range. Not only does York boast areas of woodland and wildflower beds, it has established an on-site bird sanctuary, and developed safe nesting sites including sand martin banks.

The York campus is well known for its abundance of wildfowl, celebrated in this Duck of the day website, but more recently the University has also focused on improving its habitats for bees. Providing food and shelter for bees and other pollinators is an integral element of the Estates team’s ecological management plan.

Bee hotel 3 1

Blooms and bulbs for the bees

Since 2008 the University has been developing its newest campus, Campus East, which features a species-rich area of meadowland to provide foraging for bees and other pollinating insects. More than 10 per cent of the entire University estate is currently given over to wildflowers and the sowing of further wildflowers is carried out annually in selected areas to encourage a broader range of species across the site. A specially-chosen biodiversity mix of bulbs, including crocus, tulips and narcissus, have been planted across 1500 square meters of the University’s grounds in past three years. Bulbs are often the first flowers to appear in spring, making them particularly important to encouraging bees and pollinators at York.

Six bee hotels have been introduced on campus, with another two being added shortly, to provide nesting areas for solitary bees and the Estates team have decreased the frequency of grass cutting in key areas to encourage further wildflower growth to provide more bee-friendly environments.

Benefits

It’s a testament to the success of the initiatives so far that several beekeepers have hives on campus to take advantage of the foraging that the wildflower areas now provide for their bees.

The wildflower and meadow land areas also provide a great habitat for other invertebrates which, in turn, attract birds that both feed on the insects and can use the habitats for nesting and breeding. For example, up to 17 breeding pairs of skylark, listed as a UK Biodiversity Action Plan priority species, have been spotted on campus.

The enhanced habitats also provide an extra teaching and learning resource not only for the University’s own students but also for visiting school groups, underlining the University’s commitment to the local community and to widening participation.

To learn more, reach out to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Feel free to check out the University of York on Instagram: @uoy_grounds_and_gardens 

ACutts UoY bee home 1 20170518 1

Photos courtesy of the University of York.

ISCN Members - WEF Call for Cases!

Sustainable Development: Educating with Purpose 

Since 2010 the ISCN has been sharing innovative, cutting-edge campus sustainability material with leaders at the World Economic Forum’s Global University Leaders Forum (GULF). 

It is more urgent than ever to equip our students and higher education institutions with the knowledge and practical examples of sustainable development. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) developed by the United Nations are one highly recognizable way to map sustainable activities on our campuses.

ISCN-GULF members are invited to submit short 1-2 page executive-level case study summaries that focus on educating students on the concept of sustainability and how this maps to one primary SDG and other ancillary SDGs (as several may be connected).  Our aim is to show a collection examples of how SDGs are integrated into the many facets of higher education institutions and educating students on the important topic of sustainable development. 

This year, the foreword to the 2018 ISCN-GULF report will be written by the Advisory Committee leadership with contributions from the ISCN Advisory Committee and ISCN Board. Also included will be the value of our network as recently outlined by the Advisory Committee at the June 2017 ISCN Conference, and our progress as a network and look ahead to the future.

Contributing to this report provides a snapshot of how ISCN and GULF members are pushing the dial on sustainability in higher education, while highlighting the importance and impact of educating the of leaders of tomorrow on one of our most pressing issues – sustainable development.

The deadline to submit is 15 December 2017.

Submit Your Case Now! 

The report will be finalized and submitted for the WEF: 23-26 January 2018.

If you need assistance with your submission, the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. will gladly support you.

 

Source: World Economic Forum