As higher education leaders embark in Digital Transformation toward the university of the future, they also have to make sustainability a priority in all operations within their institution.

Sustainability is taking a more predominant role as the world aims to move to a more sustainable future. The younger generations are more aware of the impact sustainable choices will make in their future, thus many students pay special attention to how sustainable their university is as well as the steps the institution is making toward achieving sustainable goals.

Higher education institutions (HEIs) can contribute to academic discourses on sustainability in education and the greening of campus. Universities can play a paramount role leading social change with regard to sustainable goals set by the UN Environment Agenda and expected to be reached by 2030. Such goals argue that improving the health of the environment will bring social and economic benefits.

In other words, by reducing environmental risks and increasing the resilience of societies and the environment as a whole, the UN Environment action fosters the environmental dimension of sustainable development which in turn, leads to socio-economic development.

Following the 2030 vision, institutions across the world have embarked in a quest toward becoming more sustainable universities.

Top 5 most sustainable universities

According to the UI GreenMetric World University Rankings, an initiative of Universitas Indonesia, the top 5 most sustainable universities making the 2021 ranking from a list of 100 are:

  1. Wageningen University and Research (Netherlands, total score: 9300)
  2. University of Nottingham (United kingdom, total score: 8850)
  3. University of Groningen (Netherlands, total score: 8800)
  4. Nottingham Trent University (United Kingdom, total score: 8750)
  5. University of California, Davis (United States, total score: 8750)

Nottingham Trent University scored higher than University of California, Davis in Energy and Climate Change, Waste, and Education and Research, positioning the U.K. university higher than its U.S. counterpart, despite both universities showing the same total score.

The universities were evaluated in 39 indicators and the following six criteria:

  • Setting and Infrastructure: More space for greenery and in safeguarding the environment as well as the campus sustainable development budget
  • Energy and Climate Change: Increase the effort in using energy efficiency appliances and develop renewable energy
  • Waste: Some programs and waste treatments (i.e., recycling program, toxic waste, organic and inorganic waste, etc.)
  • Water: Decrease groundwater usage, increase conservation program, and protect the habitat
  • Transportation: Transportation policy to limit the number of private vehicles, pedestrian
  • Education and Research: Courses, research, publications, Website, report related to green and sustainability