By: Frederikke Malling Hansen
SDU was not aware of My Green Lab until, on a trip to Ireland, a researcher from the Department of Molecular Medicine learned of some collaboration partners who had been awarded certification. From there, things moved quickly, and since then Marianne Due has been running the project.
‘We chose to become certified pretty quickly, even though most of us worked from home during lockdown. We did it to keep the momentum going and show that it was possible for us to get certified. It was then promised that we could be re-certified,’ Marianne Due says about the start of the project.
During the certification process, questions are asked about all areas that could have a negative environmental impact, after which the organisation provides their advice and offers for what could be improved. From there, it is up to the individuals what they want to work on. For Marianne Due, it was a perfect way of working.
‘The fact that you can decide for yourself what you want to work with and how to work with it fits very well into the university mindset, in which each researcher almost has his own business,’ she says, explaining that the laboratories do not have to meet a long list of defined points, but instead they can work with relevant and real changes and go into depth with them.
Certification is therefore more about the fact that those working in the laboratories for longer or shorter periods of time have to build up sound and sustainable habits and in that way change their daily routine. Marianne Due compares it to an emergency plan:
‘You need to know the emergency plan in advance – you shouldn’t have to go and read it. We need to get into a habit. That’s why two thirds of the project are more geared towards behaviour and making it second nature. We need to get away from having checklists. They annoy many people, and perhaps especially the free researchers.’
Read more (in Danish): SDU er først i Danmark med prestigefyldt bæredygtigheds-certificering
According to Marianne Due, however, it is not because the work could not have been done without the certifications, and it is nothing they could not have come up with themselves.
Nevertheless, having the My Green Lab certifications does provide value.
‘The reason I was one of those who argued for the certification was precisely that people come from outside to make the assessments. It’s great that some people come from the outside and set a frame,’ says Marianne Due and adds:
‘It’s up to ourselves whether we want the highest certification, and if we do then we have to do our level best and work with all of the areas. But we think it’s more relevant to focus on working with the areas that will give the greatest reduction in SDU’s carbon emissions.’
She explains that they have not chosen to go for certification to get the best and highest certification, but rather because it provides a focus and a direction. And while they may not be going for the highest level of certification, they constantly want to develop and do better.
‘It provides direction and internally gives us a self-understanding,’ she says of the value gained from working with the certifications, but outwardly it also sends a signal.
‘Outwardly it is a stamp of approval that we have done something.’
One of the projects that they have worked on in the My Green Lab project, and which has been one of their main focuses, is the purchase of a plastic granulator, which means that SDU can sell the plastic itself for recycling. According to Marianne Due, the granulator project also shows that they want to develop and move forward in the name of sustainability.