Our Sustainable Together expertise group primarily focuses on sustainability in a physical sense. We are concerned about our ecological footprint. Our objective is to bring this footprint back to zero. However, in order to get as many people on board as possible - in making sustainability an opportunity instead of a problem - we must also take economic and social aspects into consideration. This is why we approach physical, economic and societal challenges in terms of their interdependence. Our aim is to achieve sustainable solutions that ultimately contribute to a more inclusive, just and safe society.
A sustainable world has a healthy living environment, with such things as good air quality. It is a world in which you feel safe and which you experience as pleasant. In this world, you are invited to move about. Buildings are made of recycled materials as much as possible, and thanks to smart design, more energy is generated by these buildings than they consume. They are logically placed, aesthetically pleasing and it is a pleasure to reside in them. The surroundings are mostly green areas. Your main forms of transport are by foot, by bicycle or by public transport. In this way, you contribute to keeping yourself and your environment healthy.
How can we ensure that everyone can become involved in this transition to sustainability, so that together we can really make an impact? After all, not everyone has the means to invest in solar panels, heat pumps or electric cars. Moreover, a large number of people have a completely different set of priorities. For them, sustainability comes in second or third place, at best. We therefore have to search for acceptable, affordable and inclusive solutions. In other words, we also have to consider the social aspect of sustainability.
HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht wants to take on this ecological challenge, which is to achieve a way to live together in a sustainable manner. To this end, we are developing and realising a knowledge and innovation agenda for education and research, together with regional partners. This work takes place on a number of levels. Firstly, we focus on citizens and (prospective) professionals: How can individuals contribute to an ecological way of living and working? We also focus on ways to make professional practices more sustainable and the best way to integrate sustainability policy in national legislation and regulations. In so doing, we find inspiration in the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, in particular by the principle: 'Think global, act local'.
Three societal challenges
The Sustainable Together expertise group mainly tackles three societal challenges:
The built environment is viewed as an accelerator for a circular economy. The affordability of solutions and new economic thinking are crucial for the realisation of a circular built environment.
Our living environment should be one in which healthy options are easy and logical; where the negative impact on health is kept to a minimum. It is an environment that residents experience as pleasant. This aspect has important interconnections with our Healthy Together expertise group.
Mobility solutions should contribute to protecting the environment while also improving our overall health. Such a contribution can be achieved by using smart mobility solutions. This aspect has important interconnections with our Digital Together expertise group.