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We will be dialling down the thermostat in UvA buildings from Monday 3 to Friday 7 February. This article explains why UvA is taking part in National Warm Sweater Day and why we are taking the initiative to extend this to a whole week. Join us and win an UvA sweater!

Executive Board members Jan Lintsen (UvA) and Hanneke Reuling (AUAS) with students from the AUAS and UvA Green Offices.
Executive Board members Jan Lintsen (UvA) and Hanneke Reuling (AUAS) with students from the AUAS and UvA Green Offices. They support the idea of the Warm Sweater Week.

The aim of Warm Sweater Day is to raise awareness of how we heat our buildings and homes and the effect this has on the climate. The rules are simple: turn down the heating, put on a warm jumper (or an extra one) instead and save six percent energy and CO2 for each degree you turn it down.

What will the UvA be saving through Warm Sweater Week?

The heating in most UvA buildings is set to between 21 and 23 degrees Celsius. By setting the thermostat in our buildings to 20 degrees for an entire week, we stand to save around 13,000 kg of CO2. This is an estimated saving dependent on other factors, such as the outside temperature over the course of the week.

Why one week instead of one day?

The UvA has been taking part in National Warm Sweater Day for several years now. This year it will be on Friday 7 February, but on Fridays a lot of UvA staff are off and fewer students are present on our campuses. The whole point of Warm Sweater Day is for us to make as many of our staff and students as possible aware of the way we heat our buildings and homes and the effect this has on the climate. By extending the campaign to a week, we are hoping to reach more of our staff and students and to inspire them to follow our example.

The benefit of a small city

After all, it is our staff and students who will deliver the true benefit for the climate. If the UvA (as a small city encompassing in excess of 30,000 students and 6,000 staff) were to turn down the heating by one degree over the course of a whole year, then the energy savings would be enough to heat approximately 1,400 homes and CO2 emissions would be reduced by 3,293 tonnes. This saving is many times greater and more significant than the saving we will be achieving by turning down the thermostat a couple of degrees in UvA buildings for a week.

Warm yourself, not the planet

Hence the UvA is hoping that Warm Sweater Week will have an effect on how our staff and students heat their homes and offices. Both at home and here at the UvA, we can all cope with perceived cold or heat by putting on or taking off a layer.

You see, people’s preferences differ when it comes to what constitutes a comfortable room temperature, which is why putting on or taking off extra clothing is a better, more sustainable solution than adjusting the thermostat. Maybe we will eventually be able to permanently reduce the temperature in our buildings by a couple of degrees. That would mean less heating overall and more benefit for the climate.

UvA sweatshirt

Are you participating in the Warm Sweater Week? Take a picture of yourself in your woolly sweater and you could win a UvA sweatshirt! Send your photo by February 7 to for a chance to win one of 5 UvA sweatshirts.

Sustainability at the UvA

The UvA is doing its utmost to create a sustainable future. We do so by giving sustainability a prominent place in our research and teaching as well as in our operations, e.g. through Warm Sweater Week. We will be boosting our efforts in this field over the next few years. To this end, we have already made a start through the Sustainability Green Paper.

Find out more about sustainability at the UvA

Another party going all out to increase sustainability at the UvA is the UvA Green Office student organisation. Their efforts include organising lectures and symposiums on sustainability, holding markets for second-hand clothing and producing a guide to help residents of Amsterdam make greener choices.

Find out more about UvA Green Office (and its activities)

Interview with UvA Green Office