from February 9, 2024 to March 31, 2024
Published on February 9, 2024 Updated on April 10, 2024

CY Cergy Paris University Goes Green

CY Cergy Paris University is actively working towards becoming more environmentally friendly and socially responsible. Ronan Hébert, a geoscience professor, has been leading the Vice-Presidency Transition since 2023 to address the challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, and global demographics. The university aims to involve all its staff and students in reducing its environmental impact and preserving resources. Ronan Hébert was appointed the head of the sustainable development mission in 2009 and continues leading the university's sustainability efforts. One year ago, the institution created a dedicated position in its political bodies to strengthen its commitment to sustainable development, equality, well-being at work, and energy efficiency across all university campuses. Ronan Hébert describes this effort as having a dedicated roadmap with an academic focus covering education and research, a territorial axis with a joint action plan signed by local stakeholders, and a functional dimension to achieve the 2030 goals. This position has enabled the institution to take multiple actions in favour of these initiatives.

Sustainability at All Levels

In recent years, CY Cergy Paris University has implemented several initiatives to promote sustainability at all levels. As part of these efforts, the university revamped its selective sorting protocol by adding four new types of containers for recycling paper, cardboard, plastic, metal, and other waste. Moreover, the university is conducting a carbon footprint assessment to identify the primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions, aiming to reduce them by at least 5% annually over the next five years. In addition, an energy sobriety plan has been implemented, resulting in the modernisation of the heating system and the introduction of remote control tools for lighting and heating systems. The university also regularly conducts awareness campaigns to promote eco-friendly habits among all audiences to encourage the collective adoption of good practices.

CY Cergy Paris University has taken several steps towards promoting sustainability in recent years. One of these initiatives includes an updated selective sorting protocol with four new types of containers for recycling paper, cardboard, plastic, metal, and other waste. The university is also conducting an assessment of its carbon footprint to identify the primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions, with a goal of reducing them by at least 5% every year for the next five years. Additionally, the university has implemented an energy sobriety plan, which has led to the modernisation of the heating system and the introduction of remote control tools for lighting and heating systems. The university regularly conducts awareness campaigns to encourage everyone to adopt eco-friendly habits.

"We also take part in the mobility challenge organised by the Cergy-Pontoise community. On this day, we encourage people to choose alternative modes of transportation instead of driving their cars to reach the university," says Ronan Hébert. He cycles 30 kilometres to work on such occasions. We recently installed menstrual product dispensers at the university's three central locations. We also started providing, helped by a local producer, baskets of organic vegetables to encourage staff and students to consume locally-grown food.

In 2019, we introduced the Climate Welcome Day, which has become increasingly popular over the years. As part of our investment plan, CY Generations has launched two project calls since 2023 to fund research oriented towards transition, addressing some of the 17 sustainable development goals set in the 2030 agenda. "It's innovative because we allocate specific research support funds for projects directly related to the transition," emphasises Ronan Hébert. CY Cergy Paris University has been listed in the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Rankings for goals focused on "quality education," "eradication of poverty," "fight against hunger," "peace, justice, and engaged institutions," and "partnerships for the achievement of global goals."

No Eco-Gesture is Too Small

In November 2023, CY Cergy Paris University applied for the Sustainable Development and Corporate Social Responsibilitylabel (DD&RSE in French). This recognition of sustainable development efforts could, if obtained, allow participation in certain project calls and funding opportunities and attract more environmentally conscious students. A working group has been addressing the issue of responsible digital practices for several months. "The carbon footprint of digital technology is relatively limited, but there are no small eco-gestures. In general, the idea is to do better and differently than before," notes Ronan Hébert.

Environmental and social transition has become a significant challenge in recent years. The French Ministry of Higher Education has recently imposed several regulatory obligations regarding the training and operation of French universities. By the end of 2024, all higher education institutions must, for example, develop a "sustainable development and social and environmental responsibility" master plan. Consequently, all institutions and research organisations, such as CNRS (the French National Institute for Scientific Research and INRAE (the French National Institute for Agronomic Research), are gradually addressing this issue to reduce the impact of their activities on the environment. "There is still much to be done, but we are all moving in the same direction with a common goal and interest," concludes the Vice-President Transition of CY Cergy Paris University.

French version