Even in the energy crisis: In-person teaching has priority
When the heating period begins in a few weeks, Technische Universität Braunschweig has already initiated extensive energy-saving measures and is prepared for an impending gas and energy supply shortage. In-person teaching and research are to be maintained, but the savings measures will be visible and clearly felt.
“Our goal is to maintain campus life. TU Braunschweig is a lively place for teaching, learning and discussion. The restrictions during the Corona semesters affected all of us, but the students in particular. The coming winter semester should therefore take place in person again,” says Professor Knut Baumann, Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs. “It would also be wrong to burden our employees and students alone with the problems of energy supply and energy costs through renewed closures,” says Dietmar Smyrek, Vice President for Human Resources, Finance and Infrastructure (HVP). Luca Kienel, member of the AStA Executive Board, welcomes the decision: “After two years of studying under Covid conditions, our biggest concern was that once again many students would only be able to participate in digital teaching to a large extent. Being on-site is an integral part of studying.”
Since April, a campaign has been running under the supervision of the university’s energy management with tips to raise awareness for energy-saving behaviour. Even the case of an interruption in the energy supply is taken into account: detailed emergency plans are in place to protect sensitive research equipment from damage in the event of a power failure, for example. TU Braunschweig has already achieved considerable savings through long-term energy cost budgeting: Compared to 2013, TU Braunschweig uses about 14 per cent less district heating and 20 per cent less electricity. This makes TU Braunschweig one of the pioneers among the universities in Lower Saxony and it has now set itself the goal of saving a further 20 percent of energy. With its own PV systems, the university achieves a total output of more than 1,000 kWp – for comparison: the amount of energy generated with this is equivalent to the average annual consumption of about 220 single-family homes. Further significant savings are being realised by renewing ventilation systems in laboratory buildings.
In light of the energy crisis, further energy-saving measures are to be taken. These include, for example, starting the heating period later, lowering the room temperature and reducing unnecessary lighting. Switching off the illumination at the Haus der Wissenschaft is a visible measure. Additional savings potential lies in limiting the daily heating times. Closing selected buildings or extending the winter break is also still under discussion.
“The measures affect us seriously and will go far beyond the limits of the comfort zone at TU Braunschweig. Everyone will feel the changes. If we tackle this together, we will also master this crisis. The Corona pandemic showed us that we can,” says Dietmar Smyrek. “This is our contribution to society: we want to use as little energy as possible while ensuring safety and the ability to work and conserving scarce gas supplies.”
In-person teaching will continue to ensure full lecture halls in the winter semester. Photo credit: Sebastian Olschewski.