Short report by Marijn Polet
IESA Shift – Study Trip Germany – Czech Republic 2016
The first study trip for Industrial Ecology students, organized by IESA Shift, was a success. All organizations we visited prepared a thorough educational program. Next to that, we tried to show the students some cultural aspects of the places we visited be preparing city tours. Another important result is the bonding created between Dutch and international students during the trip.
We started off with visiting Covestro in Leverkusen. Covestro is the former Bayer MaterialScience division of Bayer and is specialized in polymer research and development. The focus was on process and material innovations to reduce the environmental impact of polymers. After that, students were divided in four groups, of which three were to develop a business plan for a product to solve sustainability problems. The fourth group had to assess the business plans and choose a winner. The visit was concluded with a site tour. We got back on the bus and drove to our hostel in Cologne, were we had dinner.
Early in the morning of the second day we departed to Prague. Along the way we visited Felsenbrau Brauerei, a brewery producing beer with sustainable energy (from local wood wastes). The owner of this family business told us about the transition to sustainable energy, the composition of the current energy system and other efforts to reduce their environmental impact. We got a site tour and ended with tasting some sustainable beers. We arrived in Prague later that day and went out for dinner.
The next day we had a full program due to the national holiday the day after. We started with visiting the University Centre for Energy Efficient Buildings (UCEEB). This research institute is linked to Prague University and specializes in sustainable architecture. Their director, Lucas Verkl, gave a presentation about energy saving building techniques and energy saving use techniques developed by UCEEB. During the guided tour in their building they showed us practical examples of their research. This was quite interesting, even more because our study is predominantly theoretical.
We continued the day with a visit to the Prague wastewater treatment. This is not yet a sustainable organization, but their explanation of their current status (they convert some of the wastewater into biogas) and hurdles on the way to sustainability was very interesting. After a stinky site tour, we departed for the last stop of the day: the Ministry of Industry and Trade. We were generously welcomed in their office by the department leader for Environment, two representatives of the Circular Economy Institute, a professor from the Technical University of Prague and a representative of a company working on sustainable water solutions. We were informed about Czech political agenda with respect to circular economy and elaborated a case study about the sustainability of a waste water treatment project.
We returned to our hostel at the beginning of the evening, where students had some time to freshen up. Afterwards we went out for dinner.
The fourth day was a national holiday devoted to some free time for the students. We prepared a morning city walk, after which everybody was free to explore the city. We ended the day with a fun surprise activity: laser gaming!
The morning after, we departed to our last stop of the trip: Berlin. We arrived in the afternoon and went straight on to Ecologic Institute EU. This is a private, independent research institute, conducting inter- and transdisciplinary environmental research. They give frequent advice to EU departments on topics such as bottom up support for the sustainability transition and climate adaptation strategies. We were introduced to the organization and recent project, with a focus on stakeholder management and engagement.
The sixth day, Saturday, was a day to explore the city. We ended the trip in the evening with a nice dinner together. On Sunday we drove back to the Netherlands.
The trip was very educational and inspiring and did not present any big troubles, with thanks to our bus driver Ton who got us safely to our destinations. The group of students learned a lot and had a lot of fun!
Photo collage by Nora Mees.
Funded by TU Delft Universiteitsfonds.