Sustainability in Operation

Our Vision

The University of Bonn is committed to reducing its environmental footprint and protecting biodiversity.
To this end, we are taking extensive action to reduce our energy consumption and place our construction, waste management, mobility and procurement programs on a sustainable foundation. In so doing, we are making a significant contribution to the achievement of local and national climate protection goals.

"Achieving sustainable operations is a major undertaking that we take very seriously at our University, demanding great responsibility. The aim is to bring ecological, social and economic considerations into a balance to the extent possible to make a positive impact on our environment. The meetings held by the “Sustainable Operations” working group are highly instrumental for bringing the University’s various interest groups together to discuss ongoing projects, how to expand these efforts, and find more ways and opportunities to make operations more sustainable. It takes a lot of resources to conduct operations involving over 33,000 students, 665 professors and some 7,000 academic, technical and administrative staff. Sustainability is key for resource efficiency, reducing emissions and changing our society for the better." (Provost Holger Gottschalk)

© Universität Bonn

Action areas

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© Universität Bonn/ Volker Lannert


Energy has been one of the hot operational topics not only since the fall of 2022. The University of Bonn has been using 100% green electricity already since 2019. We have partially achieved CO2-neutral operational utility usage in teaching, learning and research, and district heating is used for University buildings. Only certain older buildings are still heated by fossil fuels (oil and gas).
An energy monitoring system is in place allowing measurement and analysis of building-specific energy consumption in order to implement savings measures where possible. Our goal is to cut energy consumption by 20% or more on a permanent basis.

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© Denis Nasser

Waste management 

The University of Bonn is already separating waste to the extent possible. The year 2023 saw the rollout of a new University-wide initiative for systematic waste separation and waste avoidance.

A dedicated unit is in charge of the disposal of hazardous materials, such as chemical and electronic waste.
More detailed information can be found here.

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© Andrik Langfield / Unsplash


In the area of mobility there is great potential for cutting CO2 emissions and reducing negative environmental impacts. All students are issued a “Semesterticket” transit pass affording low-cost use of local public transportation. University staff and students can sign up with the “Next-Bike” bicycle rental service using their Uni ID— daily the first 30 minutes are free! University employees can participate in the City of Bonn’s annual “Jobwärts” initiative in which they test out alternative means of mobility, such as speed pedelecs and e-scooters. Bicycle infrastructure is to be further expanded, and the University is working on ways to reduce air travel to the minimum possible.

Agro Voltaik_freepik_Oleksandr Ryzhkov.jpg
© freepik/Oleksandr Ryzhkov


All construction work carried out on campus is conducted in close coordination with the BLB, the real estate service provider of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. New properties and major renovation projects are planned in conformity with the applicable state law framework.
A construction project sustainability assessment system (BNB) is in place, use of which is already mandatory for most projects. The system ensures that sustainability considerations, such as ecological, economic, socio-cultural and technical quality criteria, are taken into account already in the planning process. Photovoltaic systems are standard on all new buildings.

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© Universität Bonn


Our institution has been a certified Fairtrade University since 2020, which in addition to meaning we buy fair trade coffee and tea for conferences, etc., extends to other areas of procurement—including University Sports, which buys balls from fair-trade production.
In addition to price, sustainability criteria are generally taken into account in selecting vendors to do business with under framework agreements.

Sustainable Operations working group

Formed in October 2020 under the leadership of Provost Holger Gottschalk and Kevin Passon, the Sustainable Operations working group is charged with reviewing all operational processes and structures at the University of Bonn. Great gains can be made toward the University’s sustainability goals, especially in the area of real estate. In addition to administration staff, the working group consists of researchers and students who are dedicated to serving as “sustainability drivers”. The working group meets twice per semester to discuss the latest current developments at the University, potential for improvements and other matters. Currently the working group is developing a sustainability strategy specifically for the area of Operations.

Provost Holger Gottschalk commenting on the members of the Sustainable Operations working group: “Rather than just serving as a sounding board, the working group enables us to integrate as many different perspectives on operational sustainability as possible from among the University’s various stakeholder groups. I would like to thank everyone involved for the dedication they have displayed and for sharing their knowledge in this working group—it really is a superb network!

© AStA
Operations news
Paper recycling competition

The University took part in the Papieratlas competition for the first time in 2023, which is about creating transparency regarding the procurement of recycled paper.

Rethinking waste separation

The University of Bonn wants to achieve even more sustainable waste disposal by introducing a uniform system, eliminating unnecessary waste baskets.

Sustainability in Practice: Mowing Lawns with Scythes

For the first time, students and staff were given the opportunity to take part in a scythe course organized by the Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation (INRES) at the University’s very own Wiesengut research farm on the Siegaue, where they successfully mastered use of the implement.

Get Help With Bike Problems

Stop by, fix your bike, set off again: to promote the use of bikes among University members and the general public, the University of Bonn is installing a bike repair station on each of its campuses in the city, Poppelsdorf and Endenich. They are being financed from the University’s “funding pot” for sustainability.


Conversion to 100% green electricity


Fairtrade certification


Establishment of the Vice Rectorate and Sustainability Office and Green Office

Also read ...

Ideas Inbox & Funding Pot

We welcome your ideas and provide support for sustainable projects.


The University of Bonn has held the "Fairtrade University" award since 2020.


Together with the Studierendenwerk, we support fair trade and sustainable consumption at university events.

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