2. Fields of Action

The higher education institution explains which aspects of sustainability are of material importance for the following fields of action, how it takes them into account in its strategy, and how it addresses them systematically:

a) Research
b) Teaching
c) Operations
d) Transfer
e) Governance

The higher education institution explains how it promotes sustainability-related activities in the fields of action and how issues of sustainable development will be implemented in these in the future. Furthermore, the higher education institution should demonstrate how sustainability is interconnected across its five fields of action.

Sustainability is implemented and lived holistically at the Environmental Campus Birkenfeld. Starting with the anchoring in the mission statement and in the management structures, all areas from operations, teaching, and research to transfer are designed in the direction of sustainability. How successfully this is implemented in Birkenfeld is demonstrated not least by a number of prizes and awards that the Environmental Campus has received.

Sustainability in research

A particular strength of the Environmental Campus Birkenfeld is the interdisciplinary, environmental, and sustainability-related applied research. Trier University's research strategy is significantly shaped by the Environmental Campus and is based on three main research areas:
The guidelines for applied research at the UCB call for a thematic orientation towards issues of the material cycle and sustainable development. In addition, great importance is attached to the networking of research and teaching through the participation of students in the research projects. The campus offers an optimal working environment due to the resident institutes as well as the numerous research projects and enables committed students from the most diverse fields of knowledge to pursue a part-time job as a research assistant. The research activities also provide doctoral opportunities for young researchers, which are regularly implemented in cooperation with German and international universities. Due to its proven research activities, Trier University of Applied Sciences, and thus also the Birkenfeld location, was the first university from Rhineland-Palatinate and one of the first in Germany to be accepted as a full member of the "European University Association (EUA)" in 2010.  You can get an insight into the current and completed research on the homepage of the Environmental Campus Birkenfeld. Last year, the Environmental Campus attracted almost 10 million euros in The University of Trier is one of the strongest research universities in Rhineland-Palatinate with a volume of third-party funding of approximately 13.5 million euros.

Sustainability in Teaching

The Environmental Campus Birkenfeld is characterized above all by its diverse range of courses and modularly structured studies on sustainable development. Thereby the environmental and The concept of sustainability is the thematic link and the green thread that connects all courses offered at the Birkenfeld Environmental Campus and incorporates the relevant aspects into all Bachelor's and Master's degree programs. Master's degree programs are integrated. In all disciplines (mechanical engineering, process engineering, computer science, industrial engineering, business administration, and business and environmental law), sustainability-related content is integrated alongside in-depth knowledge of the respective subject area. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the German UNESCO Commission honored the Environmental Campus Birkenfeld in November 2018 as an outstanding educational initiative for sustainable development. As part of the third round of awards as an ESD learning site, the Environmental Campus Birkenfeld was recognized with the award at level 3, the highest level to be achieved. The jury summarized its decision as follows: "The Environmental Campus Birkenfeld manages to implement ESD in its study programs with a focus on "Environment and Sustainability" in a structurally effective way. The more than 2,400 students benefit from a particularly meaningful range of opportunities for participation and design. They participate in the development of the university in a variety of ways, are systematically integrated into decision-making processes and can thus exert a targeted influence."

For example, the bachelor's degree program in Sustainable Business and Technology offers numerous modules with a focus on sustainability, such as Fundamentals of Sustainable Business or Sustainable Energy Systems. Elective modules, as well as an interdisciplinary project in semesters five and six, provide scope for individual further education and the opportunity to set a focus. Modules such as Sustainability and Law, Environmental Monitoring or Environmental Policy are freely available.
Since the winter semester 2018, the "Agenda 2030" and the "17 Sustainable Development Goals" of the United Nations have already been addressed in the introductory week "Flying Days" and the first-year students discuss what these goals mean for them personally and for their chosen field of study. A key to understanding the complex interactions is interdisciplinarity, which can be experienced by all students, especially in interdisciplinary projects.

Sustainability in Operation

The Environmental-Campus Birkenfeld is the first "Zero Emission University" in Europe, as the property is wholly supplied with renewable energies in terms of heat and electricity. The following figure shows the heat supply of the Umwelt-Campus. In a nearby woodchip-fired cogeneration plant, heat and electricity are generated from regional waste wood in a climate-neutral and efficient manner using cogeneration. The heat supplies not only all the buildings on the university campus via a local heating network but also neighboring businesses. Another component of the energy supply system is a Digestion plant, in which the organic waste of the region (and thus also that of the environmental campus) will be converted into biogas and valuable compost. Biogas is also used to generate electricity and heat via cogeneration.

The Environmental Campus obtains "green electricity" and also generates about 50% of its electricity needs renewably through large-scale solar installations on the roofs and facades. An ecological building concept and CO2-neutral energy, heating, and cooling supply as well as the latest buildings and plant technologies offer a unique place to "live, learn and work". The "living" at the environmental campus is also energy efficient. The dormitories were built in low-energy and Built to passive house standards. The communication building at the environmental campus, which is used for conferences and many other events, is an energy-plus building. The building is basically designed as a passive house. The excellent insulation of the building envelope and highly efficient building technology reduce the need for heating energy to a minimum. The remaining primary energy demand is overcompensated by an installed photovoltaic system so that arithmetically even more energy is generated than consumed. Further information on building technology and the operation of the university can be found in the technology brochure as well as regularly in the sustainability reports of the environmental campus. According to the model "Living Lab", the environmental campus is a practical laboratory for sustainability in which students analyze and optimize the installed technologies as part of teaching and research projects.


Transfer supplements sustainability-oriented research and teaching by a third field of activity and basically describes any mutual exchange of knowledge, services, technologies, and people among each other. Transfer thus encompasses all forms of cooperation between the departments and external partners from the private and public sectors. In addition to the sovereign and contract-related research projects, the Environmental Campus Birkenfeld develops numerous transfer activities. These serve the networking with economy and society in the region and beyond. The actors of the transfer are teachers, researchers, and students, who are in exchange with the environment of the university in many different ways. This applies, for example, to technology transfer projects and cooperation with municipalities, Chambers, and networks.
The part-time master's program "Sustainable Change - From Knowledge to Action" offers an important contribution to transfer. The objective is to combine subject-specific expertise with a high degree of universal knowledge in the field of sustainability, thus enabling graduates to initiate the necessary change processes in companies and society and to meet the challenges of the 21st century such as climate change, resource scarcity, and demographic changes.


The strategy for the coming years is defined in the university development plan of Trier University of Applied Science. In this context, concrete sustainability guidelines were defined for the environmental campus and a sustainability council was appointed to steer and evaluate the guidelines and goals. This Committee meets at least once a year and consists of representatives of the university management, the departments, the operational technology, the equal opportunity office, the AStA environmental and social department, and the sustainability officer of the UCB. In order to document and evaluate sustainability developments and to ensure the implementation of the guidelines, the Environmental Campus has been reporting on its sustainability activities in the regularly published Sustainability Report since 2011. The current version of the "Sustainability Report 2017/2018" was prepared for the first time in accordance with the requirements of the "German Sustainability Code (DNK) for Universities". On an internal basis, the organization of processes also takes place in accordance with the requirements of the ISO 14001 environmental management standard. The responsibilities for sustainability management are described under criterion 4 "Organizational responsibility".