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Sustainable campus operations

Purchasing and campus operations

A university the size of the JMU is a living organism made up of numerous organisational units.

Internal links

It is actually those organisational units that implement the measures that make our University more sustainable. The better our individual efforts complement each other, the more successful they will be.

The ‘Am Hubland’ campus

When student numbers increased and its premises became too small in the 1950s, the University had to find a site for a new campus. In the mid-1960s, it started building the ‘Am Hubland’ campus on the north-eastern edge of the city, which is now home to many of the University’s Faculties, Institutes and central institutions. The opening of the new campus has reduced the need to travel across town.

Large undeveloped spaces on Campus Hubland Nord

The closure of the US Army’s Leighton Barracks in the autumn of 2008 presented a great opportunity for the University. Located in the immediate vicinity of the ‘Am Hubland’ campus, the former military installations encompass not only buildings but also large undeveloped spaces. Large parts of the site are now used by the JMU and have become Campus Hubland Nord. For ten years now, extensive construction work has been going on on the new campus.

Enhanced habitats

While the JMU is planning to construct buildings on most of the open spaces, it is also keeping ecology in mind. The University is under a legal obligation to create new habitats to compensate for the loss of existing habitats resulting from the construction of its buildings and is planning to create those habitats on the eastern part of the campus.

In addition, the JMU has agreed in 2019/20 to provide enhanced habitats. These will be connected by a ‘diversity trail’. As part of its efforts to promote ecological sustainability, the University also manages other spaces on the campus in an extensive manner.

‘Bustle spaces’ created by the ‘ArtZeiten’ project

Under the coordination of the JMU Sustainability Committee, the Technical Maintenance Service Centre, the working group for ecology and sustainability of the JMU Student Representation and the JMU Biocentre work together to implement the measures to make our campus more ecologically sustainable. The creation of ‘bustle spaces’ as part of the ‘ArtZeiten’ (SpeciesTimes) project of the Chair of European Ethnology (Prof. Dr. Michaela Fenske) is being accompanied by the Chair of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology.

Bee pastures, fruit trees, reduced mowing

The green spaces on campus are being managed by the Technical Maintenance Service Centre and our external partners in a manner that is suitable to their locations.
Actions taken include establishing bee pastures, reducing mowing frequencies to increase the biodiversity of indigenous species and planting fruit trees.

No broad spectrum herbicides

The University’s green spaces are being managed with biodiversity in mind. For example, we have switched from broad spectrum herbicides to mechanical and thermal weed control methods.

Dovecotes, nest boxes and wildlife cover

The JMU has incorporated animal welfare considerations into the management of the pigeon populations on its grounds. For example, it uses dovecotes for the control of the feral pigeons and provides advice for controlling pigeons when construction projects are being undertaken. We also install nest boxes for birds and bats when we construct new buildings or undertake construction work on existing buildings. As the presence of roaming dogs can stress the wildlife on campus, we will do more to remind people of the leash mandate that has been in force on the JMU grounds since 2017.

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At the JMU, we seek to further reduce our energy consumption.

Actions taken to date

  • Replacing standard light bulbs with LED lights. All outdoor lighting has been changed to LED already.
  • Installing energy saving lighting control systems (occupancy sensors) in buildings and selected outdoor areas.
  • Installing building management systems to reduce the energy consumption of our buildings. For example, these systems adjust the temperature of our classrooms according to occupancy and lower the temperature in University buildings when they are unoccupied during the Christmas break. As part of a Bavarian pilot project, the Meteoviva company has installed a system in the JMU building on Wittelsbacherplatz that controls the heating and lighting systems in the building based on weather forecast data.

Significant savings

  • Our energy consumption for heating and cooling has gone down by 19%.
  • Our electric energy consumption has gone down by 23%.
  • Our CO2 emissions have gone down by 20%.

Thanks to these measures, we have managed to cut our CO2 emissions by 69 tons compared to 2016/17 and to keep them at that lower level.

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When Prince-Bishop Julius Echter re-founded the University of Würzburg in 1582, he endowed it, among other things, with forest land near Sailershausen in the Haßberge district. That forest is still owned by the University today.
The forest, which is 2,300 hectares in size, is managed by Hans Stark and his team at the Sailershausen university forestry office. Comprising seven foresters and two trainees, the team manages the forest in a sustainable manner. In 2005, their forest operations received FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) forest management certification. Since then, the forest is being managed without using herbicides, fungicides, insecticides or fertilisers.

More habitat trees

Since 2003 already, we have been making increased efforts to make the forest more ecologically valuable. Some wood is left unused, and old trees are left standing as habitats (woodpecker caves, nesting trees etc.). Between 2004 and 2014, the share of thicker pieces of deadwood (more than 20 cm in diameter) rose from 3.5 solid cubic metres per hectare and year to nine solid cubic metres per hectare and year. On average, there are around nine habitat trees in each hectare of the forest.

Biodiversity experiment

A large-scale biodiversity experiment started in the Sailershausen university forest in 2018. Led by Prof. Jörg Müller (Chair of Animal Ecology and Tropical Biology), the experiment is designed to find out how different ways to manage forests affect biodiversity. It is carried out on 75 plots, each 50 by 50 metres in size.
As part of the experiment, about 600 solid cubic metres of standing and fallen deadwood have been left in the forest and habitat trees have been created artificially.

Wind farm

Since the autumn of 2015, about 4.5 hectares of the university forest have been rented out to the wind farm operator Bürgerwindpark Sailershäuser Wald GmbH. Six out of the wind farm’s ten turbines are located on University land. The wind farm supplies approx. 50% of the electricity needs of the private households in the Haßberge district.

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Student and staff transportation

The JMU encourages its students and staff members to use sustainable means of transportation. The following public transport saver tickets are available:

  • The ‘DB-Job-Ticket’ rail pass. 230 staff members bought the rail pass in 2019.
  • The ‘Mobil-Firmen-Abo’ public transport pass
  • The ‘Semesterticket’ students’ public transport pass

Eco-friendly transportation

In addition, the JMU is always looking for new ways to encourage greener transport choices. Actions taken include:

  • Providing electric vehicle (EV) charging on campus
  • Setting up nine EV charging stations in the underground parking facility on Hubland campus
  • Making available more (covered) bicycle parking facilities on campus

The JMU also welcomes the decision to expand Würzburg’s tram network to Hubland campus and is keeping in close contact with the City of Würzburg about the project.

Electric bikes

Electric bikes are available for use by technical maintenance and central service staff on Hubland campus and on Sanderring.
Some Chairs also have electric bikes for their employees. University fleet bikes can be used by staff at the Technical Maintenance Service Centre who need to get around on Hubland campus.

Electric cars

The University fleet includes two all-electric vans, one used by the Institute of Virology and the other used by the Information Technology Centre.
Before we buy new University fleet vehicles, we consider alternative ways we could meet our transport needs (e.g. swapping vehicles between organisational units) and determine whether an electric vehicle would meet our needs.

Sustainable choices

In an effort to make the University’s offices more eco-friendly, the team at Unit 3.3 Purchasing is increasingly considering the sustainability of office supplies and consumables in its purchasing decisions.


Recycled paper products are the norm in JMU offices and bathrooms. The University’s internal online office supply shop stopped offering virgin fibre paper in April 2020. All papers now offered by the shop bear the ‘Blue Angel’ ecolabel and are 100% recycled. Since 2020, the JMU has been a contender in the ‘Papieratlas’ university competition that honours the most recycled paper friendly higher education institutions in Germany.


The new whiteboards we purchase are 50% recycled and 99% recyclable.

Office supplies

We have been looking for recycled alternatives to regular stationery items and have managed to replace most products with eco-friendly options (e.g. ballpoint pens, sticky tape or pen holders). And we have noticed that recycled products are often cheaper than their standard counterparts. The money they save us can be spent on other sustainable products that are in a higher price range.

The ‘eVergabe’ procurement portal

All contracts worth €25,000 or more are awarded through the ‘eVergabe’ procurement portal. This means that bidders no longer need to submit their bids on paper. In addition, all correspondence with bidders is sent by email.

IT equipment

When we buy IT equipment, we consider the energy rating of products in our purchasing decisions. What else are we planning to do to further reduce our paper usage?

  • Switch to electronic invoice processing
  • Introduce an electronic document management system
  • Switch to an electronic system for assigning permissions to access folders or network drives

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Multimedia equipment ranging from recorders, projectors and projector screens to digital cameras to audio equipment and video production gears can be borrowed from the JMU Information Technology Centre.

A list of the available equipment can be found on the web pages of the multimedia equipment pool. The team at the Information Technology Centre is also available to provide information and advice on the use of multimedia equipment. When we buy equipment, we also consider the energy rating of products in our purchasing decisions.

Multimedia equipment pool

Regular household waste

Bins for regular household waste can be found in numerous locations on campus. Separate collections have been set up for paper, non-recyclable waste, organic waste as well as items that belong in the yellow bag (Gelber Sack). Cleaning companies that empty the bins in JMU offices and other rooms are under a contractual obligation to keep waste paper that has been separated from the non-recyclable waste separate from that waste.

  • Waste paper is sent for recycling.
  • Organic and garden waste as well as animal bedding is sent for composting to the Würzburg composting plant.
  • The yellow bags are collected by the Würzburger Recycling GmbH (WRG).
  • The non-recyclable waste produced at the University is burned at the Würzburg waste‑to‑energy plant.
  • Drop-off bins for the recycling of brown, green and clear glass can be found in several locations on campus. The glass is sorted by colour.

Electronic waste (e-waste) is collected by the A&N Computerrecycling OHG recycling company. E‑waste drop-off boxes can be found in the following locations: Z2 building (Technical Maintenance Service Centre), Julius-von-Sachs-Platz 2, Wittelsbacherplatz 1, Sanderring 2, Technical Maintenance Service Centre on Hubland campus, Physics, Chemistry, Biocentre, Röntgenring and Versbacher Straße 7/9 (on demand only).
Moulded polystyrene products and polystyrene packing peanuts are recycled through waste management companies (WRG).

Special waste

The disposal of special waste is managed by the Technical Maintenance Service Centre.
Examples of wastes classed as special waste include laboratory chemicals as well as hazardous wastes such as paints and varnishes, mercury, waste oils, batteries, asbestos and fluorescent light tubes. The ZER waste disposal and recycling centre will safely store those wastes until they are recycled or disposed of through external contractors.

Solvent recycling

The ZER waste disposal and recycling centre at the JMU operates solvent recycling facilities. Waste organic solvents are analysed by gas chromatography. If they are suitable for recycling, they are recovered by distillation and made available for reuse.

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The JMU is one of the most recycled paper friendly universities in Germany. It took fourth place in the 2021 ‘Papieratlas’ university competition launched by the ‘Intiative Pro Recyclingpapier’ (IPR) alliance.

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