The Energy Task Force follows the Corona Task Force. Both stand for an exceptional situation. And both show that the crises of the time are not leaving Berlin universities untouched. The same applies to the energy crisis, which is now affecting everyday university life. In order to counteract it as best as possible, quick action is required.
The management of the Technical University of Berlin (TU) has already announced “immediate measures to save energy”. As early as 2021, a large part of the TU budget had flowed into the heating costs of around 19 million euros, it said on request. The university is preparing for further “dramatic price increases”. One of the measures discussed in the task force that was set up a few days ago is the reduction of energy costs.
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So freezing during the lecture? It’s not that far yet. Nevertheless, a “reduction in room temperature” is conceivable, says the TU spokeswoman. In addition, heating costs are to be saved by closing the buildings between Christmas and New Year – a measure that the FU introduced years ago.
But not only short-term measures are decisive, according to the TU spokeswoman. Rather, the university sees itself as having a duty to “stop climate change”.
A task force was also set up at the Humboldt University in Berlin (HU) to monitor developments in energy and gas supply. The HU fears that the effects of rising energy costs on teaching cannot be prevented. “In this case, however, we assume that the country will make a special allocation,” explains a spokeswoman for the HU. A heating subsidy is therefore expected from the Senate.
Freie Universität (FU), which declared a climate emergency internally in 2019 and is committed to climate neutrality and sustainability, sees itself well prepared for the current energy crisis. A spokesman explains that energy consumption in 2021 was 30 percent below that of 2000/2001, despite the increase in student numbers and growing expenses.
A working group should now develop an emergency plan in consultation with the FU Presidium. There are no concrete new measures yet.
The University of Applied Sciences (HTW) has also taken precautions: With a view to its own roofs, the University of Applied Sciences is looking to the coming months with confidence. “In the last two years we have installed massive amounts of photovoltaics on the roofs,” explains HTW President Carsten Busch. In addition, the university is already well on the way to climate neutrality.
In addition, the HTW has been teaching and researching topics such as environmental management and renewable energy for decades, emphasizes the President. And more and more new research areas are concentrating on sustainability, such as “Sustainable Smart Cities” with 17 professorships.
According to Busch, one has also learned from the past Corona semesters how to deal with crises. Today, as then, the focus is on teaching as smoothly as possible.
The Charité also wants to ensure smooth processes, and the teaching activities are not endangered in the short term by the energy crisis, it said on request. However, the existing university contract does not take into account the increased costs. So that the Charité does not have to take “restrictive measures”, they hope for compensation from the state, says a spokesman.
In the fight against the energy crisis, however, the personal responsibility of the employees is also relied on in order to reduce energy costs in the long term. For this reason, the Charité co-initiated the “Climate Saver – Lifesaver” campaign, in which university hospitals nationwide are taking part.
This motivates the staff, among other things, to climb the stairs instead of using the elevator, to avoid standby or to ventilate properly. The buildings are currently being checked for their energetic condition and, if necessary, optimized, the press office explains. A press spokesman explains that the Charité is also dependent on additional state funds for a corresponding extensive renovation of the building.
The cross-section of the Berlin university landscape shows that the energy crisis will affect and change the institutions. It remains to be seen what concrete measures the quickly appointed task forces will prescribe and how thick the sweaters at the university will have to be in autumn and winter.