Saving energy is a core issue of our time – not only because of the energy crisis resulting from the war against Ukraine: the climate crisis demands decisive and joint action and the economical use of resources. This applies all the more to the University of Freiburg, in whose research and teaching sustainable development, climate and environmental protection play a major role.
The current energy crisis will have an impact on the operation of all universities in research, teaching and administration in the coming winter semester. The University of Freiburg continues to intensify its energy-saving measures and prepare for possible developments – being prepared for the worst and hoping for the best. All members of the university, like society as a whole, can contribute to mastering this energy crisis together with responsible use of resources – and take an important step towards protecting the climate through sustainable measures.
Three working groups, for research, teaching, and business operations, have been set up for the purpose of studying possible measures and scenarios. Representatives from central services, all of the faculties, and the student body are involved in the work. In addition, the Ministry of Research, Science, and the Arts (MWK) of Baden-Württemberg has asked higher education institutions in the state to address this issue as part of a crisis management program.
At the present time, nobody can assess whether such a natural gas shortage situation will actually arise or not. As the current and coming energy supply situation depends on many different external factors over which the University of Freiburg has no influence, the working groups are also studying different scenarios with which the university can respond appropriately and quickly to the different developments in energy supply.
Cancellation of the planned winter break
The planned two-week winter break from January 1-21, 2023 was cancelled on October 5, 2022. The winter break had been decided by the Rectorate in July 2022 as an extension of the Christmas break. During this period, no classroom teaching would have taken place in University buildings. This measure has now been lifted due to a reassessment of the current situation. It is therefore no longer necessary to reschedule events during this time to other dates. However, already existing plans in the faculties to postpone classroom teaching between January 1-21, 2023 can certainly remain in place.
The reason for the reassessment is, among other things, the commitment of the federal government to prioritize universities in terms of energy supply. In addition, ideas of the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts have been announced in the meantime to guarantee classroom teaching without exception in the face of complex energy-saving challenges. Giving as much priority as possible to classroom teaching has also always been a central goal for us, including the time spent planning the now lifted winter break.
We believe cancelling the winter break is the right approach in view of recent dynamics. In addition, this decision is in line with the views of many elected status representatives. We expressly regret that the cancellation means a further change in teaching operations in the winter semester and thus also a renewed organizational effort amongst faculty members.
Preliminary results from the teaching work group:
One crucial result of the teaching work group concerns studies. The start of the lecture period in the 2022/23 winter semester will not be brought forward. The planned start of the semester remains the same.
The winter break for classroom lessons at the University of Freiburg will be extended until January 21, 2023, and if necessary even longer. The university management asks the faculties to prepare for this. The aim here – as in the case of the pandemic which may also still affect the coming semester – is to maintain face-to-face activities as much as possible, i.e. to reschedule the classroom lessons that would take place in those two weeks of January. It is also likely that – within the scope of what is permitted – the building and room temperatures will be reduced during the winter semester.
Preliminary results from the research work group:
Meanwhile, in research, the use of selected heating, ventilation, lighting and entire research equipment will be reduced or in some cases suspended. In particular, the air exchange in laboratories is already being reduced, depending on circumstances, and scenarios are being developed with the aim of reducing the energy consumption of high performance computing.
Preliminary results from the business operations work group:
For business operations, the individual faculties and other institutions are asked, among other things, to gradually replace energy-intensive equipment with lower-energy versions. Decentral computer servers should also be migrated to centrally-operated servers, especially virual servers. Other possible measures in relation to energy are published on the University of Freiburg’s website. If there is an energy shortage, equipment and technical environments that can be switched off and the sequence in which this can be done will be identified on an ongoing basis. In general, a continuous process to identify and implement potential savings is necessary.
If you have any questions please write to the following e-mail addresses:
- Operations: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Teaching: email@example.com
- Research: firstname.lastname@example.org
We would be grateful if you can combine questions according to their respective topics as far as possible within your faculties and other institutions first.
Appeal from the University to Save Energy
Like the federal state government of Baden-Württemberg, the University of Freiburg also calls on all staff and students to take additional and individual steps to reduce the use of heating, refrigeration, and electricity (inc. hot water, air conditioning, electrical equipment, procurement). We expressly appeal to the individual responsibility of all users – the success of our shared energy saving measures will depend on this. The above website of the University of Freiburg also provides valuable suggestions. Despite all these measures to achieve energy savings, we will continue to endeavor to ensure that this has as little negative influence as possible on the progress of coronavirus. Measures to achieve energy savings will be carefully assessed with regard to the progress of coronavirus.
Tips on Energy Saving
An overview of ways in which each individual can save energy in everyday life has already been posted on the aforementioned University of Freiburg website on the topic of energy.
The following webpage from the Baden-Württemberg Ministry for the Environment, Climate, and Energy Management also provides tips on specific ways to save energy.
Appeal for for financial support from the State Rectors’ Conference
Given the potential energy crisis, the Baden-Württemberg State Rector‘’ Conference issued a “Call for Financial Support Measures” on July 13, 2022. The decree makes clear that even without activating the gas emergency level, the energy price increases that have already occurred and those that are expected will have a dramatic impact on all universities, unless they are taken over by the state.