In 1991, students at the Technical University of Catalonia (UPC)
asked the board of directors to approve a resolution in favour
of using recycled paper at UPC. Two years later, due to the awareness
raised by this initiative within the community, UPC began selective
waste paper collection at what was then UPC's newest campus, Campus
Nord. In 1995, under further pressure from students, the alumni
association and the school chaplain ordered a study outlining
recommendations and good practices of environmental planning to
be developed at the university. The proposals in that study were
the starting point for the First Environment Plan (EP1), which
was developed by students as a final studies project with the
help of university faculty and staff, and approved in November
1996. At that time (and even now), few higher education greening
initiatives were being implemented at institutions in Spain, and
those that did exist were focused mainly on operations and awareness-raising.
With the EP1, UPC introduced the innovative concept of integral
or global environmental planning for a university.
covered six major areas: Undergraduate Education, Postgraduate
Education, Research, University Life, Awareness-Raising and Coordination.
An accurate description of the Plan and its development can be
found elsewhere .
idea was not to create major new structures, but to involve the
University's existing structures within the University involved
in the Plan's objectives . Thus while there was a vice rector
in charge of the whole Plan, there were vice rectors responsible
for each major area as well. Additionally, a small office (Environment
Plan Coordination Office) was created to coordinate and monitor
the planned projects, through the publication of the annual Environment
Report . UPC has 35,000 students, with seven campuses spread
across an area of 50 km around Barcelona, and 22 technical schools
and faculties1. The main achievements of the EP1 are described
The principal and most ambitious objective in the area of education
was the curriculum greening of all subjects offered at UPC. The
first step was to prepare a collection of manuals (one for each
school or faculty) to introduce students (and lecturers) to the
study of environmental impact. The second step was to involve
each school in the production of its own School Curriculum Greening
Plan (SCGP), using what we call a "vertical approach"
in the UPC context. These SCGPs had three main tasks:
establish the profile of environmental knowledge that a student
needs to learn;
design the optimal greened curriculum;
establish an action plan at school level.
from the input of lecturers at each school, the process for producing
these SCGPs also included the polling of professional associations
and alumni. They helped to establish a curriculum greening team
(and responsibilities) in almost every school that produced an
the main schools at UPC had produced their SCGPs2 (11 SCGPs
were produced in the period 1998-2000), the natural next step
was to work with the "horizontal structure" of departments,3
in order to produce a Departmental Greening Plan (DGP) for each
department. Unlike the SCPGs, the DGPs covered not only CG, but
also research and departmental life. The idea was to work with
a structure closer to the reality of the lecturer, who, ultimately,
is the key actor in the curriculum greening process. The main
tasks of the DGP were to:
the basic environmental aspects that should define the department's
the priority greening lines at undergraduate and postgraduate
a short term action plan.
date, 23 DGPs have been produced.
quantity of information generated and the need to disseminate
it through UPC and other universities and education centres has
led to the development of the Virtual Resources Centre on Curriculum
Greening in Technology4 (e-ambiT).
important project was the establishment of a new subject: "Environment
and Technology." "Environmental Education in Engineering,"
developed in digital format (virtual learning), which is now being
offered as an optional subject. This 60-hour course was coordinated
by the UNESCO Chair for Sustainability at UPC, and besides its
educational content, it also gives students the opportunity to
participate in a virtual discussion forum on sustainability. More
than 1000 students have chosen this subject since September 2000.
As explained below, UPC is discussing the possibility of making
this subject compulsory for all UPC students. Also, UPC is examining
the possibility of offering the course to other groups, such as
university lecturers and secondary school teachers.
The main activities of the EP1 in terms of research have been
developed through the establishment of an environmental research
coordination unit (ERCU). The ERCU is responsible for several
carry out a general analysis of UPC's environmental research
output (by mapping it and determining appropriate indicators);
act as a "hinge" between UPC research groups and organisations
(public and private) which are interested in working with UPC
on an environmental project/problem, in effect establishing
multidisciplinary teams from different UPC research groups;
help reduce environmental impact and seek environmental applications
for the research (other than environmental research) carried
out at UPC;
develop new environmental postgraduate courses.
life and awareness-raising
Although many activities have been developed in this area, the
most important are the establishment of Integrated Selective Waste
Collection Plans (ISWCP), and the introduction of environmental
criteria in new buildings and campuses.
have been implemented at school and/or campus level (depending
on each situation), with a total of 13 plans already in operation,
covering the entire UPC. In order to allow greater involvement
of schools and campus management units, the responsibility was
almost completely decentralised.
second important project was to establish a methodology in order
to ensure that each new building at UPC fulfil environmental performance
criteria. At the time of the approval of the EP1, the additional
interest of this project was that UPC was going to build a new
campus in 1999. Consequently, our approach was to make establishing
the criteria a priority.
The EP Coordination Office was responsible for promoting the development
of the EP1 projects, seeking external funding and evaluating and
monitoring the development post-implementation. As a monitoring
tool, an annual report was published, which includes the main
indicators and a description of the most relevant activities conducted
during the year.
of the First Environment Plan
In undergraduate education, an indicator was selected to monitor
the development of curriculum greening. This indicator is the
percentage of courses that introduce environmental contents in
their programme. A key word list was established in order to maintain
optimal objectivity, and the information was taken from the annual
course catalogue. As can be seen in Fig. 1, the trend is positive
(courses with environmental topics increased from 11.5% (1996)
to 16.1% (2001)), although growth is slower than expected. The
EP Coordination Office has noted that this indicator could be
improved, since it does not reflect accurately the complexity
of introducing the concepts and values of sustainability into
1. (a) Technology transfer points (PATT) in MA in environmental
research; (b) Percentage of environmental research within total.
2000, a new indicator of progress in curriculum greening is being
evaluated by means of a questionnaire completed by students who
have found employment through the University's careers advisory
office. Again, the trend seems positive.
far as postgraduate education is concerned, efforts are made each
year to monitor the range of courses on environmental issues made
available by the University and the popularity of these courses.
The indicator here is the sum of the product of credit points
of each subject (hours) multiplied by the number of students enrolled
in the course. As can be seen, the trend is again positive, increasing
from 11,734 credits-students in 1997 to 19,745 in the year 2000.5
One of the basic pillars of UPC's EP is research in environmental
and sustainability issues (ER), which is seen as the driving force
behind introducing sustainability in higher education. Thus, monitoring
such research activities was a priority during the implementation
of the EP1. As can be observed in Fig. 1, ER has grown substantially
in terms of transfer of technology, and represents approximately
30-35% of the total. Monitoring has also permitted the objective
identification of fields of expertise related to ER, by dividing
it into eight areas. The main areas of scientific production at
UPC are the Water Cycle, Environmental Management in Industry,
and Waste and Soil Contamination.
life and awareness-raising
Changes in water consumption per campus inhabitant are visible,
although it is difficult to attribute this trend to the existence
of the EP1. Energy consumption has dropped from 1.75 to 1.68 KWh/person/day
between 1999 and 2001, while water consumption, more than 13 l/person/day
in 1996, was about 10 l/person day in 2001. The changes occurring
since the establishment of the EP1 are basically long term (new
buildings with sustainability criteria still account for very
low percentage among the total number of buildings, and will do
so for many years). Consequently, it is vital that from now on
any new buildings at UPC be designed, built and used in accordance
with environmental criteria, and that the competition for new
constructions integrate these criteria at the project selection.
This is particularly true with a new campus where these criteria
have been introduced since the very first planning step .
specific indicators reflect the positive evolution of the implementation
of ISWCPs. This provides a useful tool for monitoring the differing
levels of commitment among the units with respect to waste management.
major shift is evident in the decline in the number of awareness-raising
activities carried out at UPC relating to sustainability and the
environment. These include conferences (non-research-focused),
seminars, presentations, exhibitions, events, dissemination activities,
etc., organised by students, departments, schools and other university
units. Since 1997, their number has declined significantly, from
more than 50 to about 30 (in 2001). There are two possible explanations
for this: firstly, as UPC has traditionally exhibited a strong
institutional commitment towards the environment, there are now
different and more important needs to address; secondly, environmental
issues and sustainability are no longer fashionable among students.
We believe that the true cause is a combination of both factors,
and that this is important to consider when implementing a new
institutional programme. Notably, the number increased again in
2002. Other indicators used include the number of visits to UPC's
environmental website, and the number of people subscribed to
the environmental e-newsletter.
When the EP1 came to an end in autumn 2001, an evaluation was
carried out by a commission comprising 22 people from different
university positions, all them involved in the implementation
of the EP1, in order to determine its positive and negative aspects,
and offer ideas and recommendations for the Second Environment
Plan (EP2). The main conclusions of this evaluation were:
EP1 was correctly focused and has allowed UPC to become well
placed in terms of greening, although certain objectives need
to be redefined;
key to strategic success is staff involvement;
is a lack of both economic and human resources; external alliances
would be a considerable help. The increase in external funding
is a positive trend (Fig.3);
organisa-tional structure needs to be redefined in order to
become more operative;
in the area of University Life need to be professionalized and
3. Funding Origin of the EP1.
Second Environment Plan (2002-2005)
The main characteristics of the EP2  are:
number of projects;
of consolidated projects;
up an open discussion/debating process in the mid term.
linking of the areas (Education, Research and University Life)
for a synergetic effect;
of communication efforts (both internally and externally);
the active involvement of the university community;
efficiency, functionality and responsibility definitions for
each project and for the plan as a whole;
of operational indicators for each project.
that the role of the university with regard to sustainability
may be interpreted as illustrated in Fig. 4, the EP2 is a tool
that must allow:
reinforcement of UPC's commitment to sustainable development;
involvement of the university community in the overall greening
process of UPC; and
optimisation of available resources and potential funding.
4. The university's role in society with regard to sustainability
EP2 contributes to the sustainable development of society through:
integration of respect for the environment and sustainability
intensification of research in scientific or technological alternatives
in order to minimize and find solutions to the impact derived
from the relationship between human beings and the environment;
development of specific environmental management experiences
that are exportable to society.
included in the EP2
Fig. 5 shows the 13 projects of the EP2, which are divided into
4 main areas.
5. Structure of the projects included in the 2nd Environmental
the Education area, the main project consists of curriculum greening
in all disciplines offered at UPC (Project 1.1). The challenge
is to apply the SCGPs designed during the EP1. However, it is
also planned to offer an elementary course entitled "Sustainable
Development and Technology" to all students. At the same
time, UPC is considering the possibility of offering a new Environmental
Engineering Studies course in the coming years (1.2). In 1996,
this idea had been discarded in order to avoid any negative interference
in the curriculum greening of "traditional" studies.
However, once this process has been initiated, it is felt that
it will be helpful in creating a sustainability "critical
mass" within UPC, rather than a source of problems. The third
project is to create new environmental postgraduate courses (1.3).
the area of Research, the ER Coordination Office should continue
to act as a catalyst for new integrated and multidisciplinary
projects (2.1). One of the main targets is to train researchers
to implement this multidisciplinary working method in a new applied
environmental research project designed to serve UPC's own needs,
called "Laboratori REAL" (REAL Lab) (2.2). This project
aims to develop projects which will be undertaken at the new UPC
campus in Castelldefels. Some of the projects envisaged are:
a sustainable mobility plan for the campus;
energy indicators for monitoring building efficiency;
study of the campus lagoon.
in this area, the third project is to establish an environmental
studies doctoral programme (2.3), which would offer a multidisciplinary
approach and would help to consolidate and enhance existing studies.
the area of University Life and Campus, the projects are Waste
Management (3.1), Green Building Design (3.2), Sustainable Transport
(3.3) and Environmental Cooperation (3.4). The latter project
aims to involve students (actively) in environmental projects,
either at UPC or externally. The idea is to provide an opportunity
to individual students who "want to do something for sustainability,"
but also to establish a collaboration area between student associations,
NGOs and other organisations, and UPC through the EP Office.
the area of Coordination and Communication envisages the internal
and external communication of environmental projects and activities
(4.1), to be active in networking and cooperating with other universities
(around the world) as key to SD learning (4.2), and to coordinate
the whole Plan (4.3).
represents a transition from environmental planning to sustainability
planning, as EP1 was mainly and deliberately focused on environmental
aspects. The idea was to start initially with clear and concrete
objectives, and even "the environment" was seen as too
wide and vague. It was believed that including socio-economic
aspects in the EP1 mission would have been too difficult in the
beginning. However, as the environmental planning activities have
grown more mature and consolidated and society develops a greater
environmental awareness, the transition to the concept of sustainability
can begin. Some steps that EP2 introduces include the requirement
of the now-optional subject "Sustainability and Technology"
for all students in the near future, the intensification of cooperative
activities in the environmental area with institutions in developing
countries, and the idea of studying in detail the social relationships
and consequences of the technological progress resulting from
UPC has gained valuable experience in developing an Environment
Plan that has a comprehensive and integrated perspective. Considerable
efforts have been made in greening all university activities,
with significant and positive results. Indeed, the most ambitious
objective of this planning effort has been, and remains in the
Second Environment Plan (2002-2005), to educate people who will
be professionally involved in sustainable development . Experience
has demonstrated that including environmental and sustainability
perspectives in formal higher education is possible, although
it requires considerable effort and produces slow results. Institutional
commitment is fundamental, but insufficient unless it is successful
in making use of the scarce opportunities available, such as the
periodic curriculum reviews or the European Union's European Education
Area, which is a long-term reorganization plan to guarantee the
equivalence of higher education degrees within the EU.6
Although slow and progressive advances are positive, a general
revision is needed if new engineers with the ability to lead the
transition to SD are to be educated. Similarly, efforts to green
institutional operations must be credible and involve the university
experience has shown that while staff are interested in and agree
with the objectives of introducing SD into the curriculum, they
typically do not know "how to do it." For this reason,
many materials, documents and training courses have been developed
at UPC, although their use remains minimal. New incentives to
promote the use of these tools are needed in order to "mainstream"
environmental education in all curricula. We have also learned
that it is rather complex to measure quantitatively advances in
curriculum greening. Improved indicators, surveys and other tools
are needed to monitor the process, both in the short, medium,
and long term. These conclusions reinforce the fact that the greatest
environmental impact of universities, namely our students as future
professionals, must be carefully managed, just as our waste, transportation
and energy consumption are activities which globally have minor
impacts (a study focusing on the environmental impact of an architectural
school quantifies it as 99% for education, less than 1% for the
rest: building the school, using it, mobility associated, etc.
). This highlights the need for a unit in charge of CG management
at the university. However, the innovation and conceptual progress
concerning curriculum greening must be done by specialized researchers,
which is one of the challenges of EP2: creating a research core
group on curriculum greening at UPC.
conclusion, our experience at UPC shows that the existence of
a unit to coordinate comprehensive environmental planning (including
education and research) increases significantly the opportunity
to reduce the impact of the university, through synergetic and
catalytic effects within the institution, and may help to accelerate
the transition towards a sustainable future.
 I. Capdevila, et al., Journal of Cleaner Production,
2002, 10(1), 25-32.
 UPC, Environment Plan, 1996.
 UPC, Environment Report, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 [www.upc.es/mediambient].
 European Union, Environmental criteria in the design, construction
and use of buildings and their planned application in Parc
Tecnològic de la Mediterrania, UPC, 2000.
 UPC, Second Environment Plan (2002-2005), [www.upc.es/mediambient].
 UPC, MIES Report, An approximation of the environmental impact
of the School of Architecture of the Vallès, 1999 [www.upc.es/mediambient].
1 For the sake of simplicity, in the text "schools"
refers to the 15 schools and faculties that belong to UPC, and
also includes the 7 associate schools. These cover study areas
including architecture, mathematics, telecommunications, computer
science, industrial engineering, civil engineering, agriculture,
nautical studies, optics, knitted fabric engineering, and business.
2 The areas in which no SCGPs have been produced are mathematics,
computing and telecommunications.
3 There are 40 departments at UPC. Most of them are located
in more than one UPC school and are responsible for their lectures.
Schools are equivalent to faculties, which offer degrees (industrial
engineer, chemical engineer, architecture, etc.) and house departments
(mechanical engineering, etc.).
4 The website can be found at http://bibliotecnica.upc.es/e-ambit
(Catalan version only at time of writing).
5 For example, a course on industrial management of 25
credits with 10 students may have only 5 'green' credits, and
so the result is: 5 * 10 = 50 e.credits * students.
6 This could be a unique opportunity to determine the objectives
of degrees and introduce sustainability as a new degree throughout
Didac Ferrer-Balas has been the UPC Environment Plan Coordinator
since 2000. He is the head of the Environmental Office at UPC,
where he works with three other staff and three part-time students
involved in environmental projects at the university. With the
help of Professor Jordi Bruno (UPC Environmental Research Coordinator),
he is coordinating many initiatives at UPC. Any questions or comments
can be sent to him at email@example.com,
or can be mailed to Environmental Office, Technical University
of Catalonia, Campus Sud - Edif. P., Av. Doctor Marañon,
44-50, 08028 Barcelona, Spain. More information can be found at
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