2020 Sustainability Report: Great Strides and the Impact of the Coronavirus

September 10, 2021

2020 was an unusual year because of the coronavirus pandemic, and this is also clear from the 2020 Sustainability Report. Working from home and online education led to a strong decrease in CO2 emissions and a major reduction in the amount of waste on campus. During 2020, great strides were also taken towards achieving WUR’s ambitious sustainability goals, partly as a result of the construction of the loop duct for the thermal energy storage (ATES) on campus.

The 2020 Sustainability Report was published in June. The document reports on the activities of Wageningen University & Research in the areas of sustainability, environment, and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Central themes are waste and circularity, climate adaptation, energy, and sustainable mobility. Below we will highlight three interesting results and some facts and figures about 2020.


Energy: ATES Loop Duct

Major excavation work was carried out on the Wageningen campus in 2020 for the construction of a loop duct for the thermal energy storage (ATES), so that more buildings can be connected to the TES system. The TES loop duct is an important element in the energy transition at WUR. With the construction of the loop ducts, WUR aims to save over 1.3 million cubic metres of natural gas annually. This equals a reduction of about 2,400 tonnes of CO2 per year, comparable to the annual emission of about 900 gas-consuming households. Are you curious about how the thermal energy storage works? Everything is explained in detail on these pages!

Climate Adaptation

Two projects related to the climate-adaptive environment theme of WUR’s CSR agenda were under way in 2020. One was a project on biodiversity aimed to gather and clearly organise information about biodiversity on campus and to involve staff and students in mapping out biodiversity on campus. There was also an investigation into how WUR can absorb the effects of climate change by making buildings and campus even more climate adaptive. At the moment, 69% of the campus area is suitable for water absorption, for example.

#greenwur on Insta

Together with the SpreadtheWURd social media team, Green Office Wageningen has developed a series of Instagram posts to increase the reach and inform more people of WUR’s sustainability narrative. Every two weeks, a post about a sustainability theme was published. The posts can be found on the WUR Instagram account using #greenwur.

2020 key figures


Background information on the 2020 Sustainability Report

The document reports the progress of WUR’s CSR agenda. The CSR agenda contains 17 themes that are important to our organisation and our stakeholders. The themes on the CSR agenda can be linked to 13 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. The CSR agenda includes four sustainability themes: waste and circularity, climate adaptation, energy, and sustainable mobility. The sustainability report also pays attention to climate, water, and everything related to the buildings and grounds, such as biodiversity, construction, noise, air, and asbestos. Current themes were also added to the report, such as nitrogen deposition and handling genetic resources (Nagoya protocol).