AMU: Facing a climate crisis, we must act as an institution

With its three Faculties (Theatre, Music and Dance, and Film and TV School), the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (AMU) is the largest higher art educational institution in the Czech Republic. Having been raising young people for several decades, the institution has decided to act as a model in the academic world and adopt circular and sustainable rules in its facilities. AMU has just received the results of a comprehensive waste management analysis, which will be followed by specific implementation steps. The analysis pointed out a low rate of separating waste and opened a discussion on how to reduce the overall generation of waste at AMU.

AMU’s vision is to be a sustainable organisation in the long-term perspective and apply circular economy principles in its operation, with the recently completed comprehensive analysis of waste management serving to help achieve the objective. The analysis offers a detailed insight into the current state of AMU buildings in terms of waste, water, energy, and operational management. It was prepared by CIRA Advisory, circular economy advisors.

Waste management analysis brings interesting suggestions and savings

The analysis of AMU’s waste management has shown that only 9% of all waste was separated and submitted for recycling in 2019. The recommendations, translated into subsequent implementation steps, included reducing the number of mixed waste bins and providing more separated waste bins, introducing the collection of bio waste, fixing the prices of transport, unifying vessel volume to 1,100 litres, and better communication with the entire academic community and employees of AMU. The analysis included the financial benefits of the suggested solution with savings calculated at tens of thousands of crowns per year.

The final report also summarises AMU’s overall environmental performance including water, waste, and energy management, public procurement, and furniture repairs. For energy and water management, the analysis suggests installing additional water saving devices such tap aerators and dual flush toilets. If adopted, these measures are estimated to reduce drinking water consumption by up to 23% per person and up to 15% overall. Another suggestion is to undertake an in-depth analysis of savings achievable by using grey water and rainwater and focusing on installing heat pumps and/or technologies that use renewable energy sources, resulting in greater energy and cost efficiency.

The study also confirms that AMU is definitely not new to reusing material – in fact, reusing material is commonplace. It also points out sustainable criteria set for public procurement.

Subsequent implementation steps

The initial steps after the analysis were aimed at reducing the overall amount of generated waste. “We have installed 15 sets of separated waste bins in the Harting Palace and at Na Tržišti, and we are installing bio waste bins in tea kitchens at the Rectorate. We have ordered new bins for separated waste, bio waste, electronic waste, and batteries. We will monitor changes in the amount of mixed waste. The Music and Dance Faculty (HAMU) has also procured new waste bins for the Liechtenstein Palace. We are liaising with the Café HAMU operator regarding the optimisation of separating their own waste. The situation in terms of waste separation and the number of bins at the other two Faculties (Theatre, and Film and TV School) is better, although we will be adding more there as well,” says Tomáš Langer, the Bursar of AMU.

In the years to come, AMU intends to optimise document printing and shredding and ensure that cafés operating on its premises sell reusable cups and boxes. Education and instruction aimed at observing the new measures across AMU will be an integral part of acting on the recommendations.

For AMU, sustainability is key

AMU intends to focus systematically on circular economy and sustainability in its facilities, seek innovative solutions, and be proactive. Even before the study, AMU took numerous steps in terms of sustainability and circularity. “We founded AMU’s Environmental Panel in early 2020. It is an advisory body to the Rector and the Academic Senate. The Panel meets several times a year and communicates current environmental topics such as suggestions for environmentally responsible travel,” explains AMU’s Bursar Tomáš Langer.

The attic at the Study, Training and Accommodation Centre in Beroun was remodelled and insulated in the latter half of 2021, resulting in improved energy efficiency. Various individual activities are in progress at AMU’s faculties and with direct student involvement. “Our DAMU and FAMU faculties have been active in waste separation and reuse for years. For example, there is a FAMU Group for Climate; DAMU’s Department of Alternative and Puppet Theatre has installed barrels to collect rainwater; all the light sources at HAMU have been replaced by bulbs with a smaller environmental footprint; and many additional measures are planned,” says Rector of AMU Ingeborg Radok Žádná.

AMU is also a member of the University Leaders in SDG, a consortium which aims to share good sustainability practice among universities. With its actions and solutions, it would like to inspire change within itself as well as at other universities and institutions. This is why the long-term objectives of its Waste Management Strategy, currently under preparation, include energy audit of buildings, water management audit, fostering cooperation with suppliers who place emphasis on sustainability, using rainwater and grey water, and calculating carbon footprint. “We are on the verge of a major institutional change that can have a major impact on the future. We want to serve as an example and become a sustainable cultural institution of the 21 st century,” adds Rector of AMU Ingeborg Radok Žádná.