IE University in Spain has been recognized for being one of the first carbon neutral universities in Europe. 

“We talk about being part of the chain of change, and everybody’s part of it in our community. We have to walk our own talk. It’s kind of like when the Kindle came out and everybody said, ‘No, I want my books. I want paper.’ Within a year, many of those people were on the Kindle and never went back to paper. You just have to push people sometimes,” stated Lee Newman, Dean of IE Business School. 

IE Business School and its mother University have been at the top of the sustainability game for many years now. In response to the unprecedented social and environmental challenges the world has been facing the past couple of decades, they believe that the business realm has to maneuver and progress to meet those challenges. Sustainability became the main topic of discussion, through curriculum, programs and initiatives, and general awareness, IE University and its branches have committed to immersing into a fully sustainable lifestyle. 

From deciding where they should be 10 years from now, many integral pieces were developed and puzzled together to formulate a circulatory school. Newman expresses that it started at the beginning, or DNA level, integrating mandatory classes for undergraduates that consist of humanities, technology and entrepreneurial workings. Next, the booster level allows them to pursue various options towards their degree, and finally the strongest level brings various opportunities for the next career step. Newman has also seen an increase in conversation about general wellbeing and the work-life balance among his students.  

In 2019 the idea to become carbon neutral came into play and they adopted a OKR, Objectives and Key Results, Structure, and part of that structure was reducing their carbon footprint. They distributed certain Key Performance Indicators throughout the departments, some being efficiency, reduction, and investments for the side of energy. It wasn’t until they constructed their first vertical campus in Madrid that they went full force into energy reduction. In the first three years they increased efficiency by 33% per square meter, all while transitioning their energy usage. Last year [2022] 74% of their energy was renewable, now this year it’s 100%! 

They have taken large measures in reducing travel and transportation needs, in turn reducing that section of carbon emissions; they are still in the process of finding 100% neutral travel alternatives. The Univ. was still missing some emissions last year, so they made the investment to neutralize their carbon footprint and push reduction further towards their goal. The creation of a University at this level of innovation is monumental in the world of sustainability, and can inspire many other schools and entrepreneurial teams to follow suit.