Initiatives toward green transition

Initiatives toward a green transition at municipality and school levels in the city of Sønderborg, Denmark

In the February meeting of the Train2Sustain project, EUC Syd, Denmark presented their take on sustainability and illustrated with a few examples how this large concept, to which everybody can contribute in their own way, is integrated in the school’s educational program and strategic agenda.

As the largest vocational school in Southern Denmark with its administrative seat placed in the city of Sønderborg and as an educational institution with a green agenda, EUC Syd is a main partner to the innovative initiative called ProjectZero.

ProjectZero is an all-encompassing public-private partnership built on the active involvement, collaboration and the sharing of responsibilities of all stakeholders in the municipality: citizens, private and public businesses, institutions across all sectors. For each type of sector and stakeholders, there are a specific initiatives and programs to support and train households, shops, institutions etc. in their efforts to rethink their existence and operations on sustainable principles. Some of these can be seen on

Mr. Peter Rathje, Managing Director of Project Zero, presented the main objective of this project launched in the city of Sønderborg in 2007: zero CO2 emissions by 2029, that is, 20 years before Denmark’s national plan for emission reduction. That means cutting off to zero the initial 700,000 tons CO2 (corresponding to around 9.2 tons CO2/inhabitant) emitted in 2007 in the municipality by business, transportation, private households, private and public buildings etc.

Thanks to its large deployment and reach, ProjectZero has by now clearly measurable and visible results and continues to be a flagship project for the municipality of Sønderborg:

Besides its goals related to climate change and sustainability, ProjectZero also aims at
• creating more green jobs in the region
• providing climate-focused information and education at all educational levels
• providing the necessary skills to today’s tradesmen and workers, as well to today’s students in vocational schools to adopt green solutions in their respective trades and work and provide energy-saving solutions to private and public customers, institutions, and businesses.

EUC Syd is one of ProjectZero’s most important partners in achieving this latter goal locally, among others by providing training to city staff and local workers in energy optimization solutions.

As pointed out by Mr. Hans Lehmann, vicedirector at EUC Syd, the management has established a clear strategy regarding sustainability and the way in which people affiliated with EUC Syd at all levels can make an engaged and conscious contribution towards a greener future.

Sustainability is thus a focus point both in our educational programs at all levels, and in the management of the organization.

EUC Syd is a UNESCO college, thus the 17 Sustainable Development Goals are integrated in the majority of all our educational programs.

Here are some examples:
• Carpenters and tailors work often with recycling

• Blacksmiths and plumbers focus on energy saving and optimization, technical high school students had a project on alternative fuel produced from seaweed

• Nutritionists work with prevention of cancer
• The Bright Green Engineering Seminars in “Thermal shell & Refurbishment of existing buildings” and “Indoor Climate Engineering with focus on District Heating & Ventilation” are 2-week, EQF5 level-seminars for international craftsmen from the building and HVAC sectors and for architects focused on sustainability and reducing the environmental impact of constructions.
• Our high school students are involved yearly in World Cleanup day (one-day action to clean up litter), the local initiative UNESCO week, Denmark’s national fundraising for humanitarian organizations.
• The catering and gastronomy department works with a digital platform and can be now considered to be a paper-free program, having moved to the cloud all its curricula, lessons, assignments, student progression tracking, student portfolio, kitchen equipment booking. The digital program allows increased focus on local resources, energy and waste saving solutions:

At organizational level, one of the most important actions taken by EUC Syd was the replacement of the cars used by our consultants responsible with the collaboration with the local businesses. EUC Syd currently owns two cars working on biogas that emit 79g/km and count as carbon-neutral, as the fuel is produced from manure and waste that would emit the same amount of CO2 if spread on the fields or burned, respectively.

EUC Syd has also taken steps to manage their facilities and outdoors areas in an environmentally conscious way. The school has switched to electric robot lawnmowers, while 19 hectares of undeveloped areas have been left in a ‘willfully wild’– but not untamed – state, to protect biodiversity and water ground. Since 2019, the school has turned to a pesticide-free, environmentally neutral weeding method on the areas where weeding is necessary. Today, tiled or asphalted areas are weeded with corn and coconut sugar-based hot foam.

The school works permanently towards a sustainable purchasing strategy and facility management, and towards increased awareness in consumption habits and patterns in classrooms, offices, dormitories, and canteens.

Sustainability is always a work in progress, thus EUC Syd’s agenda on this topic remains dynamic and ready to react to changes in technology, people’s mindsets, local administrative plans. Participation in sustainability-focused national and international projects – both educational and with business, administration and civic partners – provides the inputs, inspiration and challenges needed for progress.

Roxana Flavia Dam,
International Project Manager, EUC Syd