The mission of the Sustainable University project is to make Palacký University fully environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable. This means that it should act and develop in such a way that it can meet its needs, but without negative impacts in the future and on future generations. It therefore focuses on 15 areas of action, including both environmental (“green”) sustainability, often closely linked to economic sustainability (improved waste sorting, energy savings, green spaces, and biodiversity), and social sustainability (equal opportunities for all, responsible purchases, community care, education).

The key task of Sustainable University is to develop a comprehensive and binding Sustainable Development Strategy as soon as possible. This strategy serves as a basis for carrying out energy audits, waste analysis, and plant passporting at UP. For responsible purchasing and procurement, a set of recommended rules for the purchase of technology, new equipment, and appliances has been developed. The digitalisation of the agenda is also being successfully developed, leading to savings in time and resources. In addition, Sustainable University regularly organises awareness-raising campaigns (Car-Free Day at UP, Bike to Work Challenge, Campaign Against Food Waste) and lectures and seminars aimed at UP students and employees as well as the public. You can find video recordings and documents of these events on our page dedicated to education.

Sustainable Development Strategy at UP

Are you interested in how the university can contribute to sustainable development and social responsibility? On 26 January 2022, the UP Academic Senate approved the first ever Sustainable Development Strategy, which sets out the basic principles and starting points in the main areas of the university’s life and is based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Palacký University Olomouc Strategic Plan for the Period 2021+.

The purpose of the new sustainable strategy is to present a specific content of the priority areas on which the university will focus in the forthcoming period and to outline the main objectives as well as the basic measures through which the objectives will be met. Upon its long-term foundation, two-year action plans with specific objectives are then developed.

Below you can find a brief summary of all 15 priority areas, or you can read the entire UP Sustainable Development Strategy in PDF.

Operation and Administration

  1. Energy

    Energy savings, reduction of energy consumption, increase in energy efficiency, and overall reduction of the carbon footprint and environmental burden at UP are monitored. Primarily, this involves electricity, heat, and gas consumption. In order to meet these objectives, a baseline analysis and energy audit will be carried out as a basis for the implementation of energy efficiency measures.

    SMART measurement and control tools, sensors, smart metering, and other measures will be introduced to make energy management at UP more efficient. In the case of repairs and adjustments, renovations and new buildings, measures resulting from the energy audit will be respected and will be complemented by consultations with experts on the use of appropriate tools to reduce energy consumption.

  2. Waste and the Circular Economy

    The main objective is to minimise waste. If waste cannot be prevented, the priority is to prepare waste for reuse, recycling, and other recovery (e.g. energy recovery), with waste disposal being the last resort. A waste analysis will be carried out, on the basis of which measures for improving waste management at UP will be proposed.

    On the basis of a mixed municipal waste analysis, the waste infrastructure will be improved (more bins and containers for sorted waste will be installed) in an effort to reduce the proportion of mixed municipal waste and increase the proportion of sorted waste. In this regard, the use of disposables (cups, cutlery, plates, etc.) will be reduced at UP. The cleaning staff has been trained; the same training is being prepared for the entire UP community to raise awareness and improve knowledge in waste segregation.

    Appropriate management of bio-waste is also being addressed in cooperation with the Olomouc Region. A web-based platform will be created for sharing items that are no longer used (such as furniture, instruments, and devices) among faculties and their staff.

  3. Water and Greenery

    The objective is to manage water sustainably at UP and to maximise the proportion of green space within the protection and development of biodiversity. A water audit will be prepared to support the current trend of reducing water consumption at UP. Also, plant passports will be issued for all greenery at all UP premises and estates, and a methodology summarising how to work with greenery and develop biodiversity will be developed.

  4. Facilities and Infrastructure

    Modern, environmentally sustainable buildings are also a good solution from an economic point of view, as they are more financially viable in the long term. The environmentally responsible construction and renovation of UP buildings will be pursued, in close accordance with priorities of the UP Sustainable Development Strategy as described above. An inventory of recommended rules for responsible public procurement (hereafter referred to as RPP) has been developed, and the Sustainable University Unit will be informed of planned purchases of technology, new equipment, and appliances.

    The plan is to introduce Building Information Management (BIM, an intelligent process for creating and managing projects, based on a digital model) and to develop a methodology to convert all information on buildings and infrastructure into digital form. This sharing will avoid unjustified purchases, especially of scientific instrument infrastructure.

  5. Information Technology and Digitisation

    Digitisation contributes not only to sustainability but also to saving time and making the whole process of administration more efficient. The aim is to computerise all UP administration except for legally mandated hard copy documentation. Furthermore, UP will no longer require the submission of all final theses of students in hard copy. The publication of e-books and other teaching materials in electronic form, as well as e-learning, will be encouraged. The aim is also to reduce the overall amount of physical travel and, where the situation permits, to use virtual mobility through modern videoconferencing technology.

  6. Dining

    The aim is to provide a healthy and balanced diet in UP dining halls, which will have a positive impact not only on the individual but also on the environment. Preference for regional food suppliers and reduction of waste in food transport and food preparation are important. Solutions will be actively sought for the use of bio-waste and food waste.

    Awareness-raising is also an integral part of this aim. Information leaflets are being prepared for UP dining halls to motivate diners not to waste food. Reusable cups will be actively promoted in FreshUP bistros. Drinking fountains and other forms of available drinking water will be provided in all faculties to partially avoid waste from single-use plastic packaging.

  7. Mobility and Transport

    In order to reduce the carbon footprint, it is vital to encourage UP students and staff who commute (or generally travel) by car to use a more sustainable mode of mobility, i.e. walking, cycling, and public transport. A questionnaire survey has been conducted to describe the current needs and preferences with regard to mobility at UP, and based on this survey, solutions will be proposed to facilitate a more sustainable form of mobility for students and employees. These include secure bicycle parking spaces, establishing cooperation with bike-sharing service providers, and negotiations with the Olomouc City Transport Company (DPMO).

  8. Responsible Purchasing

    UP is obliged to comply with the principles of socially and environmentally responsible public procurement. In particular, the following aspects are considered: decent working conditions, respect for social and labour rights, equal opportunities, consideration of sustainable development criteria including environmental impact issues, the supplier/product ecological footprint, business ethics, etc.

    An analysis of the current situation shall be made, on the basis of which a list of recommendatory rules for RPP will be drawn up. Purchasing of UP advertising and promotional items will be standardised with a focus on both quality and local origin and production of sustainable materials across UP. A methodology will be developed for this purpose.

Educational and Creative Activities

  1. Education for Sustainability

    Every UP student and employee, as well as the university as a whole, can contribute to positive global development through their actions at the local level. Critical thinking, and especially education, as the main pillar and mission of UP, are integral to this.

    The goal is to implement sustainable development in the curricula and to create elective courses related to sustainability. Public lectures with experts on the topic will be organised at regular intervals. Students will be actively involved in organising campaigns on food waste, healthy and waste-free lifestyles, and so on.

  2. Creative Activities for Sustainable Development

    It will be important to make an analysis and plan for the development of UP’s educational and creative activities related to sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Theses subjects related to sustainability will be supported in departments close to the topic. As an encouragement, a Rector’s Award for Sustainability will be created for theses that are related to the SDGs.

    In the UPoint UP information centre and shop, regular updating of existing products and selection of new ones will ensure that high quality, the use of sustainable materials, local origin and production are maintained. The proportion of sustainable products in the overall offer will be gradually increased.

Social Responsibility and the Third Role of the University (Social Outreach)

  1. Community for Sustainability

    The aim is to build a community of UP academics, staff, and students who are actively interested in sustainability issues in various fields and will work closely with the Sustainability Coordinator on projects, campaigns, and research. This community made up of experts and lay people who want to participate in sustainability efforts at UP will be thus available when the need arises for expertise, opinions, and assistance in organising events.

  2. Healthy Lifestyles and Community Care

    Changing our eating habits, sleeping rhythms, physical activities, and certain environments will positively affect our health and thus reduce the risk of being overweight, developing type 2 diabetes, or suffering from depression and stress. The aim is to motivate UP students and staff to reduce sedentary lifestyles and encourage regular physical activity. UP will actively create a welcoming and motivating environment.

    Collaboration with bike/scooter-sharing service providers is also possible. The home office option will continue to be encouraged in positions where possible. The choice of sports and number of hours allocated to them in the UP curriculum will be increased. There will also be an offer of counselling and psychological care.

  3. Equal Opportunities for All

    UP, within its scope of operation, will continue to maintain equal opportunities and conditions for social inclusion within the university, the local community, and society at large. UP supports the removal of barriers that prevent the participation of persons with disabilities, members of minorities, and other population groups at risk of social exclusion. Attention is also paid to gender stereotypes, possible abuse of status, and uncollegial behaviours that could undermine a healthy working and learning environment.

  4. Support for the Region

    This objective is pursued in all pillars of sustainable development of the Olomouc Region, of which UP is an inherent part, with all relevant actors of the local socio-economic ecosystem. Support for the development of cooperation with the Olomouc Region and the Statutory City of Olomouc is directed to the strategic, conceptual, economic, social, and educational areas.

  5. Strategic Partnerships

    The aim is to establish strategic partnerships with organisations and associations dealing with sustainability issues in the Czech Republic and abroad, to participate in interesting projects, and to inspire and learn from one another and participate together in a greater mission and to achieve goals with a more significant impact.

    UP will continue to deepen its collaboration within the Aurora Alliance, and now also in the Association for Social Responsibility. UP will apply for membership of the Czech Stakeholder Platform and the Responsible Public Procurement Platform and will continue to participate in the GreenMetric rankings.

Action plans

On the basis of the Sustainable Development Strategy, which sets out the long-term concept and the direction university takes in terms of sustainability, specific action plans are developed for every two-year period. These define clearly measurable objectives and measures based on analytical data. The action plans introduce the guarantors of individual measures as well as other persons and entities needed to cooperate in the implementation of the measures and define indicators for the fulfilment of the objectives. They also include a financial budget for the measures, financing options, and a timetable.

The Action plan for the Implementation of the UP Sustainable development strategy for 2022–2023 (in Czech) was approved by the UP Academic Senate at its meeting on 20 April 2022. Below you can read a brief summary of what is planned in the 15 priority areas in the period 2022–2023 and how the plan is being implemented.

  1. Energy

    The university-wide energy audit, completed in February 2023, will be the basis for implementing appropriate energy reduction measures in the form of sensors, SMART tools, and others. The energy audit will also be respected in the design and construction of new buildings and in the purchase of new equipment.

  2. Waste and the Circular Economy

    The main objective in this area is to minimise waste. On 29 November 2022, a physical analysis of waste from mixed waste containers from all UP facilities was conducted, which revealed deficiencies in the current waste sorting at UP and suggested solutions for improvement. Based on the results, these measures will be implemented and waste infrastructure will be improved to reduce the amount of mixed municipal waste and to increase the proportion of sorted waste. In an effort to educate UP staff and students, an educational video will be produced and distributed among them and also included in staff training.

    From 2023, UP will take all canteen food waste, including oils and grease traps, to the biogas plant in Rapotín for further processing. UP has established cooperation with the biogas plant via the Olomouc Region.

  3. Water and Greenery

    The UP estates are currently undergoing a greenery inventory. Based on this, biodiversity in the form of meadows, newly planted trees, and orchards will be developed at suitable places. These sites will be complemented with insect hotels, and educational boards that will serve not only UP students and staff but also the public. Behind the dormitory complex on November 17 Street, the first nesting tower for martins is being built as a sensitive way of their relocation from the dormitory buildings.

  4. Facilities and Infrastructure

    In line with the UP Sustainable Development Strategy, appropriate environmentally and socially friendly measures are now being considered for all projects to be implemented in the near future. The aim is to reduce the energy consumption of buildings, to reduce as much as possible their negative impact on the surrounding area, and to build appropriate solutions for their users.

    A set of recommended rules for the purchase of technology, new equipment, and appliances has been developed in regard to responsible procurement. All purchases and contracts are discussed with the Sustainable Development Unit.

  5. Information Technology and Digitisation

    As part of time saving, procedural efficacy, and especially sustainability, the digital work travel order system has been improved and updated. As of November 2022, it is possible to enter and approve work hours and to enter time-off requests exclusively electronically.

  6. Dining

    Since December 2022, an anti-waste campaign has been underway in the UP dining halls. Information leaflets have been placed in areas where diners form queues to motivate them not to waste food and provide solutions on how to achieve this. Refillable cups are actively offered instead of disposable ones in all FreshUP bistros and are further promoted on information leaflets in the bistros and through promo videos on all faculty websites and social media.

  7. Mobility and Transport

    Bicycle parking space has already been extended or added to several UP buildings. The situation is being addressed in buildings where such a parking space is still lacking or insufficient. At the same time, UP has established cooperation with the companies Nextbike and Eagle; a discounted subscription has been arranged for UP students and staff. The university participated in the 2022 Bike to Work Challenge for the first time. A total of 130 staff members formed teams across the university and travelled to work by bike or on foot throughout the month of May, competing in regularity and mileage. In total, they cycled or walked 31,536 km and saved 4,068 kg of CO2. The best faculty was the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, which won the challenge cup. Car-Free Day was also a success, with many employees arriving at work by public transport, bike, and on foot, for which they were rewarded with refreshments, free bike service, and other benefits.

  8. Responsible Purchasing

    An analysis of the current state of responsible purchasing at UP was carried out and a list of recommended rules for responsible public procurement (RPP) was developed. This entails compliance with social and environmental rules of the RPP such as decent working conditions, respect for social and labour rights, equal opportunities, consideration of sustainable development criteria including environmental impact issues, ecological footprint of the supplier/product, business ethics, and so forth. The Sustainability Development Unit is consulted on all public procurement where relevant.

  9. Education for Sustainability

    A total of three professional lectures were held in 2022 for interested UP students, academics, and staff, as well as the general public. An educational programme Sustainability in Practice was prepared for staff and students, featuring six personalities from the Olomouc region whose professions are linked to sustainability. The lecture series Societas cognitorum presented and recorded a lecture by Pavel Nováček from the Department of Development and Environmental Studies, entitled “Life in the Age of Climate Change”. The last lecture by Ondřej Přibyl of the Climate Facts project, who spoke about climate change and its solutions, has also been recorded and is available here.

  10. Creative Activities for Sustainable Development

    Students have the opportunity to write their final theses on sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Topics such as eco-friendly cleaning products, water consumption at UP and others have already been explored and/or are being assigned. Most currently, topics such as the calculation of UP’s environmental footprint and the material recycling of waste in the Olomouc Region have been listed. Many students collaborate with Sustainable University on research. This includes mapping the estates and the state of green areas on the university’s estates, mapping the bins and containers for sorted waste, the number of bike racks, etc. Researchers are also increasingly motivated to incorporate the SDGs into their projects, and Sustainable University is helping them to do so by providing consultation.

  11. Community for Sustainability

    The aim is to build a community of UP scientists, staff, and students who are actively interested in sustainability issues in various fields and will work closely with the Sustainability Coordinator on projects, campaigns, and research. The first meeting of interested parties took place on 8 December 2022, when the Sustainability Strategy, Action Plan, and plans and projects for 2023 were presented and a discussion about further ideas and possible projects for the next year was also started.

  12. Healthy Lifestyles and Community Care

    The possibility of creating an compulsory optional physical education course was discussed at the UP Academic Senate meeting in September 2022. The inadequate financial infrastructure to support athletics at UP was also pointed out. The proposal was supported by those present and complemented by a number of important suggestions that still need to be addressed. No resolutions were passed, and the entire proposal continues to be refined.

  13. Equal Opportunities for All

    In 2022, Palacký University was awarded the Olomouc Region Governor’s Award for Social Responsibility, fulfilling the third role of the university, i.e. work for the benefit of society. The university has long been organising lectures, talks, and educational series for the public. What further stands out are the voluntary activities of students and employees and the work of the UP Volunteering Centre, an indispensable network that has proven so helpful during the war in Ukraine.

    In 2021, an analysis of equal opportunities was carried out at UP, which led to the creation of the Gender Equality Plan, which sets specific goals for the period 2022–2023 aimed at better gender equality throughout UP.

  14. Support for the Region

    Within the Olomouc Region, Palacký University Olomouc has established cooperation with the Department for the Environment and will thus be involved in a project to use food waste in the biogas plant in Rapotín.

    The cooperation with the Statutory City of Olomouc has been conducted in several areas. UP is a member of Local Agenda 21, which is a programme (strategic plan) for the development of the city, characterised by an effort to solve global problems locally – i.e. on the territory of the municipality or region, especially in the field of sustainable development. UP is also negotiating with the Olomouc City Transport Company regarding the improvement or strengthening of the transport infrastructure for commuting to UP, thus aiming to reduce the number of car commuters. Experts from UP participated in the development of the Adaptation and Mitigation Strategy of the City of Olomouc, and its objectives were also mutually reflected in the UP Sustainable Development Strategy. UP also established closer cooperation with Sluňákov – the Olomouc environmental activities centre, with which they jointly organise educational events such as Sustainability in Practice, Facts about Climate, and Olomouc Ecological Days. UP students and teachers also go to Sluňákov for internships and educational programmes and help out at various events.

  15. Strategic Partnerships

    For the past two years, UP has been a member of the Aurora Alliance, which brings together nine European universities working on social responsibility, sustainability, digitisation, and cultural diversity. In 2022, UP participated in the creation of the Sustainable Campus Action Plan. The plan aims to encourage participating universities to use energy sustainably, prioritise regional foods, etc.

    In 2022, for the first time, UP was listed in the international UI GreenMetricranking, which assesses the environmental friendliness of universities. Out of 956 universities, UP ranked 642nd. In one of the two most prestigious rankings in the world, THE World University Ranking, Palacký University was ranked 201st–300th in sustainability and second in the Czech Republic, after Charles University in Prague. In the QS World University Rankings, out of approximately 700 universities that were included in the ranking of the most sustainable universities in the world, UP was ranked 451st–500th.

Sustainability reports

How is the University doing in meeting the goals set by the Sustainable Development Strategy and specific action plans? Take a look at UP's sustainability reports.

Palacký University Olomouc Sustainability Report 2022

In 2022, UP approved the UP Sustainable Development Strategy, received the Olomouc Region Governor's Award for Corporate Social Responsibility, launched the Unilead CRP or gained membership in the Corporate Social Responsibility Association. 900 000 CZK from its budget was allocated for sustainability activities. In addition, the university ranked 546th in the UI Green Metric and 201st–300th in THE Impact Rankings, established a partnership with Nextbike and Eagle, and conducted an analysis of mixed municipal waste. Managed 3 lectures on sustainability and the climate crisis, engaged staff and students in 3 challenges (Bike to Work, 10,000 Steps, and Car Free Day), and purchased 1 new electric vehicle (for Accommodation and dining).

Methodology of sustainable events of UP

Do you care about the impact your event will have on the environment, society and ultimately the planet? Take inspiration from the Methodology of sustainable events of UP (in Czech), which serves as a guide for event organisers (not only) at UP. It will show you how to organise an event in a way that does not leave waste, does not consume more water and energy than necessary, or uses local resources and supports local partners and suppliers. It will guide you through the organisational steps and their sustainable options during the planning process, during the event itself and after the event.


Methodological guide for new buildings at UP

The Methodological guide for new buildings at UP in Olomouc serves mainly as a supporting manual for the work of the main project developers. The handbook addresses the soft aspects of project plans, which include requirements for changes in operating buildings, but also for new units of the university's investment capital. The handbook addresses the possible parameters of planned buildings and intended changes, including the refinement of interior fit-out and the fit-out of new operational ensembles in buildings. The handbook follows conceptual frameworks and presents a comprehensive system of measurable criteria ranging from the area of urban design and the impact on public space, to the topics of building microclimate and balancing the economic and aesthetic, architecturally valuable aspects of investment projects, to the ultimate long-term maintenance and sustainability in the management of the entrusted assets. The handbook then defines qualitative building design points, both general (e.g. green roof solutions) and quantified (e.g. recommendations for maximum thermal transmittance of structures).


University Sustainability in International Rankings

Palacký University competes with global universities in three sustainability rankings: the Times Higher Education Impact Ranking, the QS World University Rankings: Sustainability, and the UI GreenMetric World University Rankings. More detailed information and current positions can be found on the UP Strategy and Quality Office website.


Palacký University Olomouc is part of the UNILEAD project (University Leaders in SDGs), which aims to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals. The project involves 24 Czech universities, which are taking coordinated action in 10 key areas, sharing experiences, and applying sustainability principles in practice. UP is the guarantor of “Sustainable mobility of university students and staff”. More detailed information can be found on the website of Masaryk University, the main coordinator of the project.

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