The ecologists' Institute at the edge of campus is an enthusiastic paean to green innovations. But what's that electric heater doing?
But Utrecht didn't get it partly thanks to Wageningen's commercial acumen. The story doing the rounds is that at the time University professor Rudy Rabbinge convinced the Wageningen Executive Board not to ask the full market price for the land - then still owned by Wageningen UR. It is on this land that NIOO is now celebrating its new home. It is one of the most sustainable buildings in the Netherlands. The wood, concrete and glass can be recycled, waste is processed on site, hot water is stored in the ground, the cellar is a home for bats, the bike shed is a bee hotel and of course the roof is covered with solar panels.
Freshwater ecologist Ellen van Donk proudly shows her office. But... there is a heater under the desk. An electric heater. Van Donk whispers: 'Lots of people have one. It was so cold here last winter.' But there is no room for cynicism today. The opening exudes a kind of sustainable positivism, expressed by an army of Dutch celebrities. KNAW president Robbert Dijkgraaf praises the courage and creativity of Louise Vet and her team. His Royal Highness Prince Carlos de Bourbon de Parme criticizes the fear of change and talks about how 'good people stand up'. Froukje Jansen, Jan Douwe Kroeske, Marijke Vos, Wubbo Ockels: they are uniformly positive about a green future.
NIOO is holding an open day on Saturday, 10 September, when it expects more than a thousand visitors. Ecologists will be presenting their research, the building and the site between 11.00 and 17.00.