The Energy Task Force follows the Corona Task Force. Both signify a unique situation. Both show that the crises of the time did not leave Berlin’s universities untouched. The same is true of the energy crisis that is currently affecting the daily life of universities. In order to counteract this as well as possible, you need to act quickly.
The management of the Berlin University of Technology (TU) has already announced “immediate measures to save energy”. Already in 2021, a large part of TU’s budget contributed to heating costs of around 19 million euros, it said on request. The university is preparing for further “dramatic price increases”. One of the activities discussed in the task force established a few days ago is the reduction of energy costs.
So freezing during the lecture? It’s not that far yet. Nevertheless, “lowering the room temperature” is conceivable, says a TU spokeswoman. In addition, heating costs are to be saved by closing buildings between Christmas and New Years – a measure that FU introduced many years ago.
According to a spokeswoman for TU, it is not only short-term measures that decide. Instead, the university sees itself as having a responsibility to ‘stop climate change’.
Subsidies for heating from the Senate are expected
A task force has also been established at Humboldt University in Berlin (HU) to monitor the development of energy and gas supplies. HU is concerned that teaching cannot be prevented by rising energy costs. – In this case, however, we assume that the country will make a special allocation – explains the spokeswoman for HU. A subsidy for heating is therefore expected from the Senate.
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Freie Universität (FU), which internally declared a climate emergency in 2019 and is committed to climate neutrality and sustainable development, considers itself well prepared for the current energy crisis. A spokesman explains that energy consumption in 2021 was 30 percent lower than in 2000/2001, despite rising student numbers and rising spending.
Now the working group should develop a contingency plan in consultation with the FU Bureau. There are no concrete new measures yet.
The University of Applied Sciences (HTW) has also taken precautions: With its own roofs in mind, the University of Applied Sciences looks confidently into the coming months. “Over the past two years, we have installed huge amounts of solar farms on the roofs,” explains HTW CEO Carsten Busch. In addition, the university is already on its way to climate neutrality.
In addition, HTW has been teaching and researching topics such as environmental management and renewable energy for decades, emphasizes the president. More and more new research areas are focusing on sustainable development, such as “Sustainable Smart Cities” with 17 professors.
[Gestiegene Energiekosten: Einen Überblick über die Entlastungspakete der Bundesregierung finden Sie hier]
According to Busch, people also learned from the previous Corona semesters how to deal with crises. Today, as then, our focus is on teaching as smoothly as possible.
Charité also wants to ensure smooth processes and teaching activities are not threatened in the short term by an energy crisis, she said on request. The applicable university contract, however, does not take into account the increased costs. To prevent Charité from having to take “restrictive measures,” she hopes to get compensation from the state, a spokesman says.
In tackling the energy crisis, however, it also relies on the personal responsibility of employees to reduce energy costs in the long term. For this reason, Charité co-initiated the “Climate Saver – Life Saver” campaign, in which university hospitals from all over the country participate.
This is motivated by the staff, among others to climb stairs instead of using an elevator, avoid being awake, or have adequate ventilation. The buildings are currently being checked for their energy condition and optimized if necessary, explains the press office. A spokesman explains that the Charité also depends on additional state funding to adequately renovate the building.
A cross-section of Berlin’s higher education landscape shows that the energy crisis will affect and change institutions. Time will tell what concrete measures will be recommended by rapidly appointed task forces and how thick university sweaters will have to be in the fall and winter.