In this blogpost, the team of the Nachhaltigkeitsbüro Kaiserslautern (in Southern Germany), share some insights on how they collaborated with professors to get their Green Offices established:
Sustainable development is the greatest global challenge the world faces today.
Recent research suggests that this challenge requires multiple actors to work together. We take this suggestion very seriously on a smaller scale – at our university.
After the first sustainability report, which was written by Prof. Michael von Hauff and his staff, was published in June 2015, the idea of a “Green Office” at the Technical University of Kaiserslautern came up only about 12 months ago.
Over the last year, we have…
- secured funding from the university for the next two years to come, including a budget to employ a team of five people (30 hours per week in total),
- started our work officially in April this year,
- found a place to stay and work at,
- created an oversight committee consisting of high-level members of the university, adjoining scientific institutes, and representatives of the city of Kaiserslautern.
To be honest, it would have been impossible to have such a successful start-up phase by relying only on ourselves. Especially in the beginning we were in dire need of support – a person with good connections, someone in a position in which it is likely that people listen to him or her.
We found all that in Professor Katharina Spraul. She holds the chair for sustainability management at our university and is the main reason why things worked out that fast.
About one year ago, it was Professor Spraul who organized meetings between students and the university administration, pointed out the importance of sustainability in the university environment, and why we need a Green Office.
After three highly committed students attended a weekend workshop by rootAbilty, she helped them to secure funding from university’s president, one of the vice-presidents and chancellor, so that very soon afterwards, in April this year, we could start our work.
Unfortunately, we did not have an office, so we were forced to work in a lecture hall. Luckily, we were allowed to use the equipment of Professor Spraul’s chair.
And again, Professor Spraul used her personal resources and networks. She came up with the idea that we could collaborate with Professor Sabine Hoffmann, who she got to know – guess where – in a network for female professors at the university.
Professor Hoffmann (Chair for Built Environment) leads, together with Professor Andreas Dengel (German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI)), the Living Lab smart office space. She provided us the possibility of working in the Living Lab for one day per week, letting us use and evaluate the state of the art technologies of the office space. Next to health, the dealing with aspects like thermal comfort and biological light simulation also influences energy efficiency.
So what does this mean for you, i.e. other Green Offices / Sustainability Hubs? We would like to encourage you: If you do not yet have any support for your work, do not be afraid to ask your professors for help. Try building up networks, both internally and externally, especially with institutions which are adjacent to your university and interested in the topic of sustainability. Until now, that was our key factor for success.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank Professor Spraul for her great commitment. We would not have been able to start our work as fast as we did and the way we did without her. At the same time, we are grateful for Professor Hoffmann’s support, giving us the opportunity to use the smart office space one day per week.
Text and photo by the team of Nachhaltigkeitsbüro Kaiserslautern.