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14 February 2023

Varna Free University is the first higher education institution in Bulgaria certified according to ISO 14001:2015 for environmental protection. The certificate was issued by TÜV Rheinland Bulgaria and is valid for three years. The procedure is part of the project Knowing the Circular Economy in the Black Sea Basin BSB-CIRCLECON - BSB 1021, financed under the joint operational programme for cross-border cooperation under the European Neighborhood Instrument "Black Sea Basin 2014-2020".
The attitude towards the environment is a major priority and responsibility for VFU "Chernorizets Hrabar". The university changes both environment and attitude by meeting the highest standards of sustainability based on scientific, educational, economic, environmental and social criteria.
The active activity for the protection of the environment exceeds the normative requirements and shows the responsibility of the university community towards nature and society. The management of the university, students, lecturers and administration are united in their efforts to change attitudes related to environmental protection.
Some of the good practices for changing the environment:
► Survey on the energy efficiency of the buildings on the territory of the university;
► Renovation of the buildings;
► Centralized heating and lighting during movement, to reduce the use of electricity;
► Drip irrigation of the park of VFU "Chernorizets Hrabar";
► Reporting and control over the consumption of resources - electricity, fuels, water, waste and the impact on the environment;
► Digitization of the educational and administrative process, which resulted in a reduction in the consumption of paper and plastic;
► Separate collection and recycling of waste paper - in 2022, 3,680 kg of paper were delivered, saving 63 trees from being cut down;
► On the initiative of the Student Council, containers for plastic caps were built and placed in the university and in the courtyards of schools in Varna. The project is supported by the Education and Youth Activities Directorate of Varna Municipality.

Good practices for changing attitudes and the educational environment:
VFU "Chernorizets Hrabar" is a leader in circular economy education.  A full cycle of educational products on the issue is implemented in the university's academic profile - from courses for additional qualification, through a sustainably developing master's degree programme and its upgrade to an educational and scientific degree "doctor". Topics related to climate change and the green transition are represented in the bachelor's and master's programmes in Economics, Public Administration and Management, Business Administration and Management, Architecture, etc.
The Master's degree programme Circular Economy at Varna Free University is the first of its kind in the European Union. It is held under the patronage of the Directorate General Environment of the European Commission. "The training is at an exceptional level," emphasized George Kremlis, a honorable director of the European directorate. Students from two classes of the programme presented real projects to realize the ambitions of the Green Deal for a digital and ecological economy. The campaign for the admission of the third class of students in the Master's programme Circular Economy is active.
Starting from the new academic year, studies in the Eco-technological Systems and Technologies master's programme, developed jointly with leading Bulgarian and foreign universities and financed under the Science and Education for Intelligent Growth project, will begin at VFU "Chernorizets Hrabar". The Master's programme is multidisciplinary and is focused on the study, development and implementation of innovative eco-technological solutions in various branches of industry and in particular in the field of Architecture and Construction. It will prepare highly qualified specialists, a new type of experts in the field of green economy, sustainable development and environmental protection with emphasis on planning the effective use of resources to achieve economic expediency. The programme relies on the basic principles of the green and circular economy, as well as on European green policies and regulations.
In September 2022, the first doctoral degree in Bulgaria in the field of circular economy was defended at the university. In his dissertation work, Dr. Rumen Pehlivanov - Mayor of the Municipality of Rudozem, presented an integrated model for managing the transition from a linear to a circular economy of the municipalities of the Rhodope region - Rudozem, Madan, Devin and Borino.
VFU "Chernorizets Hrabar" is the leading organization in the project Knowledge of the Circular Economy in the Black Sea Basin BSB-CIRCLECON - BSB 1021, and its partners are organizations from Greece, Turkey, Georgia and Ukraine. According to it, 90 experts from Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Ukraine and Sweden are trained in circular economy issues, using the specially created platform for the first time. After completing their training, the resources in the multilingual platform will be freely available for use.
The Student Council of Varna Free University "Chernorizets Hrabar", together with the Municipality of Varna, organizes a workshop on the topic Circular Economy. The topic was also present in the student scientific forum "Modern Problems of Regional Development and Urban Planning in Bulgaria".

The international standard ISO 14001 defines environmental management system requirements that can be integrated with other management requirements to help organizations achieve both their economic and environmental objectives. The main focus is the identification and assessment of environmental aspects; thus, organizations strive to reduce the negative impacts of their activities.

VFU "Chernorizets Hrabar" also has a 22-year uninterrupted cycle of certification of the quality management system according to the international standard ISO 9001:2015, which proves the sustainable development of the organization. There is no other higher education institution in Bulgaria with a similar continuous cycle of certification, according to the International Certification Organization BUREAU VERITAS.