She knows the University of Bremen like hardly anyone else - and not only because Dr. Doris Sövegjarto-Wigbers has worked there for over 25 years. As the Climate and Environment Manager, the 62-year-old is connected to basically everybody: From the University Executive Board to the facility management team. Together, they have achieved a great deal in terms of climate and environmental protection on campus. “It’s the only way to do it,” she says.
Anyone who walks over the campus at the moment will not only see mowed lawns. Some areas are actually very wild. Grasses and flowers are growing and blossoming - for example behind the Bremen State and University Library (SuUB). There is also an orchard behind the Sportturm Building. “BiodiversitätsHub” (Biodiversity Hub) is the name of an initiative organized by students, staff, the Administrative Unit for Facility Management, and professors. The aim is to promote floral diversity on campus.
In August, the project “Uni Bremen Solar” will celebrate its 10th birthday. In said project, staff - on their own initiative - produce green energy on six university buildings with solar panels. These are only two examples of voluntary projects that promote climate and environmental protection on campus. Doris Sövegjarto - who usually goes by this name at the university - manages said projects and has an overview. “I am always amazed by the university members’ dedication.”
“You Can Always Copy Me”
However, her working area does in fact cover a great deal more: Doris Sövegjarto is responsible for the entire field of climate and environment management at the University of Bremen. Since 2004, the university has had a continually appraised environmental management system in accordance with EMAS (Eco-Management Audit Scheme). With this certificate, the university proves that it goes beyond just fulfilling its legal requirements in terms of the environment. Doris Sövegjarto supervises the whole process. By doing so, she is aware of everything that is happening at the university in terms of climate and environmental protection - whether it be in research, teaching, or other areas. “The university has no reason to hide,” she states.
“Universities should always set a good example.”
“When we started with the EMAS evaluation, we were a role model for other universities in Germany,” she remembers. The doctor of chemistry places particular significance on one particular thing: Sharing her knowledge and skills with others. For example, if a colleague from a different university has a question, Doris Sövegjarto is happy to share what she knows. “You can always copy me,” she says, “I am a fan of transparency.”
“Environmental Protection Was Always My Thing”
This attitude ensured that she was well suited to the University of Bremen. In 1981, she came to Bremen from Düsseldorf on personal grounds and continued her degree in chemistry at the university. Project-based classes and political involvement were some of the things that the student enjoyed at the time. And she loved Bremen. “The people were so friendly,” she says, “even the professors. I immediately felt at home.” Sustainability was also important to Doris Sövegjarto when she studied. “Environmental protection was always my thing.”
After her degree, the chemistry scholar completed her PhD at the University of Bremen and started a family. After spending a few years at the now Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology – BIPS, she moved on to the newly established Center for Environmental Research and Sustainable Technology (UFT) at the university. She also worked with the former Director of Finance and Administration Gerd-Rüdiger Kück as part of the environmental committee, which was founded in 1996. Today, the committee is called the Sustainability Forum and deals with sustainability development across the university. “This not only means environmental protection,” she explains. “Social and economic aspects also get our attention.”
“The Less People that Come to Work by Car, the Better”
One important topic for Doris Sövegjarto is the reduction of CO2 emissions on campus. Around ten years ago, she carried out a mobility survey among university members. How many come to work by bike, bus, tram, or car? This also led to her creating measures for climate protection by means of alternative mobility concepts. Doris Sövegjarto is pleased that a tram station will be built close the university in the coming years. “The less people the come to work by car, the better.” An energy saving campaign, which the Environment and Climate Manager is currently planning for the fall in all university buildings, is to be an incentive. University staff will receive tips on how they can save more electricity and energy in their offices and laboratories: There are simple tricks, for example using a multi-plug that can be switched on and off, or shock ventilation. “There is a great deal of staff rotation at the university - so I have to connect with people frequently.”
“Climate protection and the protection of biodiversity are the biggest challenges for our society.”
“The University of Bremen is Going Down a Good Path”
What does Doris Sövegjarto see when she thinks of the future of her field of work? “Climate protection and the protection of biodiversity are the biggest challenges for our society. As role models, universities are points of growth that should always set a good example,” she states. The University of Bremen is going down a good path. “I am sure that the university will continue on this journey with the support of all university members in the future.” When Doris Sövegjarto is not at work, she can often be found in the Bürgerpark. “I know every blade of grass and every tree there,” she says and laughs. “I love nature.”
uni-bremen.de/unibremensolar (in German only)
Dr. Doris Sövegjarto-Wigbers
Director of the Sustainability Forum and Environmental Management Coordinator
University of Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-63376