Maastricht University will be a sustainable university where sustainability is inherent to all activities and processes. The Green Office will facilitate the cultural transformation by and of the community to reach this goal.
The Green Office is a student-driven university department that is responsible for managing Maastricht University’s sustainability portfolio. Green Office initiates and coordinates sustainability projects at Maastricht University by empowering students and staff members.
The idea behind the Green Office
Student generations before us worshipped the ideals of freedom, equality or democracy. The unifying slogan of our generation is: Sustainability!
Sustainability is a call for action to create flourishing societies and economies, while simultaneously sustaining the natural environment. With the economic system crumbling, human populations exploding and ecosystems vanishing, we see sustainability as the defining feature of our time.
But how should we respond to this call? Where should we start? Change our electricity company to a renewable energy supplier, collect signatures to postulate a shift in governmental policies, write letters to newspaper editors, or occupy market places?
The student team who created and runs the Maastricht University Green Office is inspired by a different vision of change: We see ourselves as part of a new movement of sustainability intra-preneurs, who advance organizational change in their own institution. We belong to Maastricht University, and at the same time want to change it. In this sense, we are the subject advancing change, who at the same time belongs to the object of change.
We pursue this aim through our own projects, by supporting the projects of others and by creating an alliance for change which bridges departmental boundaries. We are slowly, but consistently building a track record of successes, which legitimizes our work and allows us to expand our ambitions.
Since we have established the Green Office in September 2010, our team has progressed on an impressive learning curve. And with us, Maastricht University has learned: On an operational side, about ways to reduce the electricity consumption of student computers and lighting systems. From on organizational perspective, the university learned more about its own sustainability performance and staff members have learned to work alongside with students.
From a community perspective, the university learned more about new attempts to support sustainability student projects, and to promote sustainable behavior within the student community. From an educational and research perspective, the university learned more about ways to connect its educational mission with the operational side of the institution.
Without question, the Green Office is an interesting experiment: It is an experiment in which a university invests trust, funds, support, and facilities into a student team to act as an agent of organizational change. We are working hard to make this experiment successful. In the long run, we aim to see the Green Office grow and flourish, so that it succeeds in making Maastricht University more sustainable from within.