UCL got a quick jump on becoming a low-energy university and thinking of ways to reduce its energy consumption. So quick that today it’s ahead of its Horizon 2020 Programme schedule: the Louvain-la-Neuve campus and its heating station have reduced CO2 emissions 20% compared to 1990. Other campuses, each with its particular challenges, are the subject of ongoing reflection.

This first successful step was made possible mainly by the implementation of an incremental strategic energy plan based on, among other things, the NégaWatt scenario. This comprehensive approach aims to achieve an optimal energy-environment balance by taking three steps: consume less, consume more wisely, produce more efficiently. ‘This plan helps us organise our construction sites and our priorities’, explains Didier Smits, coordinator of the Estates and Facilities Energy and Environment Unit.

In addition to its strong commitment to embodying energy transition, UCL has an obligation to respect measures imposed by legislators. In Wallonia, after this first level of energy reduction by 2020, the obligation is to reach -40% of emissions by 2030 and -80% to -95% by 2050. These are colossal targets unattainable without a long-term vision. UCL has therefore chosen to attack the issue on all sides. To do so, it emphasises: