As of today, 22 EU member states have submitted national plans for their share of the EU’s pandemic recovery fund, with a number looking for money to modernise university campuses, reducing the energy footprint and cutting maintenance costs.
The recovery fund prioritises project that promote the green transition and digitalisation. The money needs to be spent over the next four years, meaning universities that have already drawn up improvement plans which fit these priorities stand to benefit the most from the €800 billion Recovery and Resilience Facility, the key instrument in the EU plan for emerging stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Virginie Dupont, vice president of the Conference of University Presidents (CPU) in France, said most of the country’s campus buildings are ageing and need energy-saving upgrades. “CPU has calculated that over €4 billion will be needed to renovate universities [in France],” Dupont told an online conference organised by the European University Association (EUA) last week.
Universities want to invest in new heating and cooling systems, better insulated facades and charging stations for electric vehicles, in order to reduce maintenance costs. “[The recovery fund] is really a blessing, because the energy savings that will be achieved will allow the balancing of university budgets,” Dupont said.