Birzeit University retains title as most eco-friendly in Palestine, 10th overall in the region in 2020 UI GreenMetric World University Rankings

Birzeit University has been ranked first in sustainability in Palestine, and 10th overall in the Arab world, in the 2020 UI GreenMetric World University Rankings, which measures the extent to which universities attempt to reduce their carbon footprint and integrate sustainable and eco-friendly practices into their day-to-day activities and long-term strategies. 

UI GreenMetric World University Rankings, published by Universitas Indonesia, began in 2010 as the first system that attempts to quantify and compare the environmental sustainability initiatives of academic institutions worldwide. The ranking is based on six weighted categories, developed by Universitas Indonesia in cooperation with international academics and experts, that take into consideration the conditions and available resources of different universities to present a fair assessment of each university’s sustainability performance. 

The weighted categories comprise the following areas: Setting and Infrastructure (15 percent of the overall score), which covers the total open areas and green spaces on each university’s campus; Energy and Climate Change (21 percent), which examines the extent to which each university designs and constructs eco-friendly buildings, uses sustainable and renewable energy sources, and uses energy-efficient appliances; Waste (18 percent), which covers the university’s waste management, waste reduction, and recycling programs; Water (10 percent), which assesses each university’s water conservation and recycling programs; Transportation (18 percent), which evaluates the carbon footprint of university’s transportation network; and Education and Research (18 percent), which covers the number and quality of courses and modules offered by the university on conserving and protecting the environment as well as the number of papers published by the faculty on sustainable practices and issues. 

Due to its efforts in conserving the environment and promoting eco-friendly and sustainable practices, Birzeit University has moved 38 positions up year-over-year when compared to other universities internationally, ranking 202nd worldwide among 912 participating institutions. The university has also gained two positions when compared to other institutions in the Arab world, ranking 10th overall in the region and surpassing four other Palestinian universities. 

Birzeit University is one of the first Palestinian institutions to adopt sustainability as one of the guiding principles in the design of its campus, incorporating open and green areas between sustainable buildings and relying on six solar-power stations that provide 681 kilowatts for its various buildings and facilities. A one-megawatt solar-power station, sprawling across 15 square kilometers, is currently under construction on the university’s campus. Once complete, the new station will allow the university to meet 50 percent of its energy needs using renewable sources. 

In addition to managing and directing sustainable practices across its campus, Birzeit University has recently instituted a master’s program in renewable energy management, which aims to advance renewable and clean energy technologies in Palestine and keep the community abreast of the latest developments in the field, giving students and researchers the tool to counter climate issues locally and globally. 

Apart from the renewable energy program, the university offers a master’s program in water and environmental engineering — administered by the Institute of Environmental and Water Studies — and runs several annual conferences and workshops dedicated to sustainable and environmentally friendly practices and policies.