Wind turbines, solar panels, and recycling stations are part of a growing list of installations designed to improve the sustainability of the establishments that make use of them. In recent years, business schools have also been employing sustainable initiatives on their campuses to become more environmentally friendly.
For many, this involves utilizing spaces they already have in new and innovative ways, starting with the roof over their heads. Harvard Business School has implemented green roofs on a number of their buildings, covering them with plants and vegetation. Harvard’s green roofs are useful in storm water management as they can absorb up to 70% of rainfall which prevents runoff into the local Charles River and sewer systems — beneficial in reducing concentrations of phosphorous and nitrogen entering the water ways and also serves as an effective roof insulator.
BUSY BEES ON THE ROOF
BI Norwegian Business School, based in Oslo, is making use of their huge campus roof – the size of 2.7 soccer pitches – in a slightly different way: by installing beehives. Tommy Wensås, the school’s beekeeper and head of Technical Department, started the initiative in 2017 and has cared for the bees ever since.
The beehives are not just a gimmick, but represent something more. Wensås says, “the symbolic effect of the bees is huge. They have attracted a lot of attention and are a source of great interest from employees, students, and others. They have also opened up opportunities to the school which may have otherwise not been available. In 2019, BI hosted a state visit from the President of Slovenia, as well as the Norwegian King and Queen, for a seminar on sustainability, bees, and pollination.”
BI’s bees pollinate within a radius of 3 km and contribute to a healthy ecosystem, making them vital for the environment surrounding the school and to a greener city. Students are frequently shown around the hives with the intention of teaching and inspiring potential future leaders. Wensås continues, “when you show people the wonder of nature, this creates engagement and passion, and hopefully a motivation to act sustainably.”
THE SOLAR ROOF OF LJUBLJANA
Another school making good use of their roof space is the University of Ljubljana, School of Economics and Business (SEB LU) in Slovenia. With help from The Faculty of Electrical Engineering, SEB LU recognized the unused potential of their roof space so, as part of their energy efficiency renovation project, decided that was where they would install a solar power plant.
With the connection of the solar power plant to their distribution network, they became the first faculty in Slovenia to combine concern for the environment with the use of solar energy. Through this initiative, they have contributed to their goal of engaging the academic community in protecting the planet and ensuring that the SEB LU is environmentally friendly. The solar power plant reduces carbon dioxide emissions by more than 77 tonnes a year. Together with other environmentally responsible investments as part of their energy efficiency renovation project, the school has been able to reduce their emissions by 46% and overall consumption by 48% in less than five years.
In partnership with Siemens, they also installed a Green Building MonitorTM in the school’s main lobby that provides information about solar power generation and effectively communicates the building’s energy performance and the school’s environmental commitment. At the same time, they aim to motivate building users to adopt sustainable attitudes and behaviours.
Recent developments from surrounding institutions demonstrate the influence the school has had. Sara Bleiweis Trsteniška, a spokesperson from SEB LU, says “our campus is located in the northern part of Ljubljana and we are surrounded by three other faculties, several high schools and elementary schools, as well as the incubator of the University of Ljubljana, and many other companies. In recent years, we have noticed that these educational institutions have followed our example by installing their own solar power plants and by implementing or joining other environmentally friendly and socially responsible projects.”
TAKING OWNERSHIP OF THE UN’S SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS
When Nova School of Business and Economics, the leading business school in Portugal, was building a new campus in the Cascais region, they decided to create an infrastructure that mirrored the impact-driven culture of the school and that aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and renewable energy. Similar to SEB LU, this involved the installation of 924 solar panels on their roof to take advantage of the 240 sunny days the region enjoys each year. These panels produce 20-30% of consumed energy to ensure a greater level of self-sufficiency.
Luís Veiga Martins, Chief Sustainability Officer and Associate Dean for Community Engagement & Sustainable Impact at Nova, says, “as the SDGs are not legally binding, organizations are expected to take ownership in designing programs, policies, and plans towards achieving the Global Goals at a national and local level. Cascais is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and we are more than committed to supporting the local municipality to achieve its aim of carbon neutrality. We believe the steps we are taking, including the solar panels, are more than relevant to continue our SDG journey.”