Driving the Energy Transition at Maastricht University? Analysing the Transformative Potential of the Student-Driven and Staff-Supported Maastricht University Green Office

Felix Spira, Alex Baker-Shelley

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic

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    Strategies on how to improve energy efficiency at universities as part of the global energy transition are barely understood. This study aims to contribute to this body of knowledge, by investigating the energy efficiency transition at Maastricht University. Using the Multi-Level Perspective of transition studies, this research investigates the landscape trends in relation to energy efficiency at Dutch universities, the energy efficiency regime of Maastricht University and the impact of the student-driven and staff-supported Green Office, conceptualized as organizational niche, on this regime. The results suggest that before the Green Office was established, Maastricht University was trapped in a lock-in. Any external push to advance energy efficiency was missing and the institution’s organizational capacity to work on this issue was very limited, thus allowing only for incremental, technology-driven improvements of energy efficiency in buildings. After successful lobbying of students, the university introduced the Green Office as a student-led and staff-supported sustainability unit. The results suggest that the Green Office—at least temporarily—enabled the university to break through this lock-in by expanding its organizational capacity to work towards energy efficiency through the mobilization of students. As a result, the Green Office implemented several additional projects on energy efficiency in IT, buildings and strategy development that all effected dimensions of the regime.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationTransformative Approaches to Sustainable Development at Universities
    Subtitle of host publicationWorking Across Disciplines
    Number of pages224
    ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-08837-2
    ISBN (Print)978-3-319-08836-5
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2014


    • Sustainability in higher education
    • Energy efficiency
    • Organisational change
    • Student engagement
    • Multi-level perspective

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