UVic-UCC, a university committed to sustainable development


  • In 2019, UVic-UCC approved a manifesto promoted by the university community in which it expressed concern about global warming and adhered to the Climate Emergency Declaration
  • In 2006, UVic had already laid the foundations of what is today the Ecocampus, and UMedicina, UManresa and Elisava are all aligned with the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals set by the 2030 Agenda
  • The global UI Greenmetric ranking placed the UVic-UCC as the fourth most environmentally friendly Catalan university in 2021

In July 2019, the Board of Government of the University of Vic - Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC) approved a manifesto promoted by the scientific, teaching and administrative community and students expressing the institution’s concern about increasing global warming and its adherence to the Catalan Government’s Climate Emergency Declaration.

The document invoked the 13th point of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the eighth principle of the University's Code of Ethics, to ask the people, administrations and companies of central Catalonia and, specifically, those who formed part of the Balmes University Foundation’s Board of Trustees, “to thoroughly analyse the real and effective actions that were being taken and could be taken in coming years to reduce negative contributions to the global climate emergency.” According to Anna Sabata, general secretary of the UVic-UCC, “this manifesto was a public commitment that called on the institution's responsibility for sustainability and environmental awareness, and represented a step towards the achievement of goals related to reducing the environmental impact, and promoting research and education in this field”.

“A public commitment that called on the institution's responsibility for sustainability”

From 2006 to the Ecocampus

In 2006, UVic saw the need to improve its efficiency with sustainability criteria and set in motion the foundations of what we know today as the Ecocampus, which includes the Vic Campus and the Medicine Campus. “The project emerged as a cross-cutting initiative to achieve infrastructures, campuses and facilities that would be a benchmark in terms of sustainability, efficiency, safety, comfort and flexibility,” says Arnau Bardolet, director of the UVic Infrastructure and General Services Unit.

UVic’s climate commitment first involved the annual calculation of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). This commitment was made in 2007 together with the consultancy Anthesis Lavola. It meant that, in 2014, the university could adhere to the Voluntary agreement programme for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (PAV), promoted by the Catalan Government, which offers tools, support and recognition to organizations that want to establish a commitment to reduce their GHG emissions. “Based on our membership and annual renewal of the PAV, so far it is estimated that UVic has avoided the emission of 5 tons of CO2 and we aim to become a carbon neutral university in 2040”, stated Bardolet

“We aim to become a carbon neutral university in 2040”

Smart campus, a turning point

The arrival of new technologies in infrastructure management represented a turning point in control and efficiency. With the Smart Campus, daily, in-depth management of air conditioning and lighting, and control of video surveillance cameras and intrusion alarms, among other technical signals, is carried out. In addition, the new comprehensive management software for the Can Baumann and UManlleu buildings enables more careful management of these facilities, with the separation of the air conditioning of each space or the measurement of air quality.

Another important aspect of the Ecocampus is mobility. The first Company Journey Plan was drawn up in 2013 and the second in the year of the pandemic. With the growth of the University in the territorial area and within the city, a new, more sustainable mobility model needed to be considered. For macromobility between UVic-UCC sites, association with the Som Mobilitat cooperative has been key to provide four electric vehicles for staff and members of the cooperative. For micromobility (within the Vic Campus), there are currently three electric bicycles for staff in the e-mobility area of the Miramarges courtyard. During this academic year, more bikes will be put into operation in various buildings.

The partnership with the Som Mobilitat cooperative has been key for the provision of four electric vehicles

The transition to renewable energies and the reduction in water consumption

The other central issue has been energy consumption and the move towards renewable energies. In 2022, the energy consumption of UVic-UCC was 2,877,914 kWh, of which 48% corresponds to electricity consumption. Currently, both electricity and gas are jointly purchased through the CSUC energy group, and the supply does not generate greenhouse gas emissions, given that its source comes from 100% renewable energy.

According to Bardolet, “since the introduction of the Ecocampus, great efforts have been made for energy efficiency and optimization. Today, we can say that 90% of the building surface area has LED lighting.” He added that “last year, the UVic-UCC Energy Efficiency and Optimization Protocol was approved to deal with the current energy crisis. Apart from continuing to develop the energy saving actions implemented so far, such as the replacement of boilers with more efficient ones, the study of installation of self-consumption facilities in all buildings, or the installation of presence detectors, an internal working group of the Infrastructure and General Services Unit was created, with quarterly meetings, to monitor the situation more carefully”.

At the same time, the investment in photovoltaic installations has not stopped growing. The first photovoltaic system, with 20 modules, was installed in 2004 as part of an engineering student's final degree project. Today, there are 209 modules installed and 200 more that have just started operation on the roof of building F. These will supply up to 50% of the building's electricity consumption. “Continuing to opt for photovoltaics will allow us to be more self-sufficient and more economically and environmentally sustainable,” said Arnau Bardolet. He pointed out: “For this reason, we have defined a Plan to promote renewable energies at the UVic-UCC and we have set ourselves the target for 2025 that 10% of the energy consumed will come from our photovoltaic installations”.

A reduction in water consumption has been achieved through the application of measures such as the installation of 22 urinals that work without water, cisterns with double discharge mechanisms, and taps with push buttons or sensors. In addition, rainwater is collected in tanks to irrigate green areas and the consumption of tap water has been promoted, together with Aigües Vic, through the installation of 24 taps with active carbon filters in UCoworking office spaces”.

For responsible consumption and production

“Zero” waste generation is another major challenge. UVic joined Vic City Council's “#TuTries” campaign. Currently, the campaigns of “Zero Waste” in offices and departments and “Zero Plastic” in meeting rooms are being implemented. The first campaign aims to reduce waste and inform about its correct disposal according to its typology. The second started in Sala Mercè Torrents and will soon be extended to other university auditoriums and services. With the collaboration of Osonament in its management, glass jugs and glasses are used to replace individual plastic bottles and paper cups.

UManresa: “We reuse, recover and redirect”

Like the Vic Campus, the Manresa Campus has a firm commitment to sustainability, a word that appears in its mission and vision, and in its strategic objectives, one of which is alignment of the university with the sustainable development goals set by the 2030 Agenda.

All the electrical energy contracted by the Bages University Foundation has come from sustainable sources since April 15, due to a contract signed with Electra Caldense to take a step forward in the sustainability and energy efficiency of its facilities.

This measure is added to others that have been introduced in recent times, such as the installation of photoelectric panels on the entire surface area that is available for this use in campus buildings, or the replacement of coolers in the FUB1 and FUB2 buildings with more efficient equipment that consumes less energy and produces less noise pollution.

In addition, the installation of LED lights in the FUB2 building was completed this summer, so that all the buildings on campus now have this technology.

With the slogan “Reuse, recover and redirect” on its website, the UManresa Campus provides a set of guidelines and recommendations: eliminate plastic waste, such as single-use bottles; prioritize catering with local products, adapted for diversity, to promote the circular economy; and avoid food waste, among other actions. It is also committed to sustainable mobility as it promotes the use of public transport and rewards shared private transport.

Organization of sustainable events

The organization of any event has a negative impact on the environment. UManresa has rethought the organization and culture of events to apply sustainability criteria. It has undertaken a detailed analysis of the entire cycle of event management, that is, all the stages of the process, including design, organization, planning, execution, development, review and, where appropriate, post-celebration activities. To carry out an event, it has a sustainability plan for all preparation phases that enables the adoption of measures and good practices with the aim of reducing the environmental impact in seven main aspects: accommodation, catering, mobility, energy, water, materials and waste.

Elisava, the responsibility of leading by example

The Elisava Faculty of Design and Engineering continues to opt for sustainability based on practical and everyday measures for the community as a whole. As a design faculty, a pioneer in numerous areas of society, it has an obvious responsibility and a firm desire to lead by example.

In this respect, it has made an effort to disseminate and implement the SDGs. It participated in the first UVic-UCC Day on the transformation of teaching and its impact on improving student learning, which was held at the end of last year, with a presentation on the SDGs and the Elisava model, and a workshop session for academic management and teaching staff at UManresa.

In the most practical area, the Faculty has progressively introduced SDGs into the subjects and projects of university degrees. It has the Elisava Second Life Corner, a space to leave materials from models and prototypes that have been presented or discarded, so that other students can reuse them to construct their preliminary models or prototypes. This promotes cradle to cradle or the circular economy. In addition, in the semester-long and temporary exhibitions it promotes, the faculty uses reusable and recyclable exhibition systems designed in-house to keep the carbon footprint as low as possible.

Other actions include: encouraging the replacement of the large-format paper that is available to students with recycled paper; no longer providing bulking board for student assignments; fostering the recycling of all possible materials used during the course; maintaining the use of a replaceable and reusable notebook for sketches, notes and initial ideas, to encourage the full use of the paper that the student consumes during the course. In this respect, undergraduate students have been trained in self-binding to minimize the impact of the constant binding of assignments during the course.

On another level, all promotional materials are produced with recycled paper and Re-board, with Blue Angel and EU Ecolable certificates, and the use of plastic containers has been reduced throughout the school. The use of glass and public fountains distributed throughout the centre is encouraged.

At the moment, Elisava is working on a proposal of indicative calculations to determine the amount of CO2 it generates

The Catalan university that is the fourth most respectful of the environment, according to the UI GreenMetric (2021)

The 2021 UI GreenMetric global ranking of sustainable universities positioned UVic-UCC as the fourth most environmentally friendly Catalan university, behind the UAB, the UdG and the URV. At national level, it was in twentieth position and overall it was number 372 out of a total of 959 participating universities.

This ranking evaluates the commitment and sustainability actions carried out, based on six indicators. In these latest results, the score from best to worst was: waste (1,500), transport (1,450), energy and climate change (1,250), education (900), location and infrastructure (600) and water (500).

According to Cristina Comerma, responsible for Sustainability, Welfare and Occupational Safety in the Infrastructure and General Services Unit, “participating in this ranking allows us to evaluate our progress over time and detect what we lack in order to apply corrective measures. We started participating in it in 2015, and in the various editions our progress is obvious”.