EMAS-Compliant Environmental Management
It all started in 2013 with one solitary individual and the founding of “green mdw”: alongside her work as a departmental secretary at the Franz Schubert Department, Silvia Erdik decided to pursue her vision of permanently anchoring sustainable practices in everyday university life, with environmental, economic, and social resources being handled responsibly as a matter of course. By designing the “green mdw” website in order to provide information on the most varied sustainability-related themes and on the basis of strong networking within the mdw and with other universities as well as Austrian arts and cultural institutions, Erdik went on to achieve major milestones and contribute fundamental impulses in terms of sustainable development at the University.
Ten years on, the seeds she planted have begun to bear fruit. With the implementation of an environmental management system in accordance with EMAS, the European Union’s “Eco-Management and Audit Scheme”, the concept of sustainability has now been systematically anchored in all areas of the University—thereby creating a tool that ensures consistently monitored environmental protection efforts as part of everyday mdw operations.
Improving environmental performance (and/or reducing negative environmental impacts) is the core concern of EMAS and is monitored by way of an annual assessment and/or internal audit of environmentally relevant operational measures.
As a rule, these monitoring instruments look at standardised, concrete performance indicators relating to the environmentally relevant aspects of resource usage, waste, water, emissions, and biodiversity. Based on the gathered data, maximally quantifiable and realistic goals and measures are then codified in the form of an environmental programme. The primary environmental goal pursued by the mdw—along with the other universities in the Alliance of Sustainable Universities in Austria, of which it has been a member since 2017—is to achieve climate neutrality by 2030.
On the basis of its environmental management system, the mdw can now undertake regular, critical internal and external comparison of all its environmental protection activities in a sensible manner and over multiple time periods. EMAS, which is governed by its own EU regulation, relies strongly on the involvement of all members of each participating organisation with good communication at and between all levels. All matters relating to the integration of climate and environmental protection in everyday university life should therefore be dealt with from both top-down and bottom-up perspectives. Every contribution is valuable and every participating individual welcome, with all suggestions and instances of criticism being taken into account in the mdw’s environmental management efforts. A further special feature is obligatory public relations work regarding climate and environmental protection. An Environmental Declaration shall be formulated and made available to the interested public in order that all data, goals, and measures be transparently portrayed. And every three years, the mdw’s EMAS-compliant environmental management system and Environmental Declaration will be audited and validated by state-certified environmental evaluators.
The mdw has been officially EMAS-certified since April 2023 and is hence Austria’s first arts university to have been listed in the EMAS Register. The Environmental Declaration of the mdw can be downloaded from the University’s website.