The education sector occupies a strategic role in the European Union. In 2017, 108.3 million students were enrolled in education and training in the EU-28. The education sector accompanies the various stages of human development and growth. By influencing values, beliefs and behaviours, it has the capacity to transform society and improve a society’s (productive) capacity to adapt to needs and challenges in a changing environment, thus also linking to economic growth.
From an environmental perspective, education, through its important link to human behaviour, can raise generations of environmentally responsible citizens who are well prepared to contribute to solving or assisting in environmental challenges in their future jobs, thus transforming the adaptive capacity of an entire society.
There is no doubt that educational institutions are a very important site for environmental change - also in material terms. In fact, the operation of their facilities and the daily mobility of the people who frequent them generate various impacts on the environment: from the consumption of resources (such as energy, water and other materials) to the production of waste and the emission of carbon dioxide – these are environmental aspects that EMAS takes into account.
The implementation of an environmental management scheme such as EMAS provides the necessary structure to incorporate climate protection in the organisational and operational foundations of an educational site. It facilitates an integrated and systematic accounting of environmental activities with the aim of continuous improvement. Furthermore, taking advantage of the large reach of educational sites, EMAS serves as a showcase model to positively influence a broader audience, from staff to students to providers, on how to account for their own environmental impacts.
A new case study has been published which presents best practice examples from three organisations operating in the education sector and the EMAS scheme – the University of Applied Sciences for Sustainable Development Eberswalde (HNEE), Kiel University (CAU) and the business.academy.donaustadt. They are exemplary when it comes to improving the environmental sustainability of their sites and engaging various actors in environment improving activities. Entering the EMAS scheme has paid off for their commitment, helped them gain greater visibility and credibility and generated financial benefits.
You can read about their experiences with EMAS here.
Based on these examples, the case study provides interesting insights into how the operation of an environmental management system can contribute to the environmental sustainability of an educational site.
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