The current energy crisis once again presents us as a society, but also as the University of Erfurt itself, with an enormous challenge. Against the backdrop of our responsibility to society, but also taking into account concrete requirements on the part of the state and the federal government, we are obligated to make significant energy savings. Since we, as universities, have recently been included in the circle of protected energy customers, we have all the more solidarity-based responsibility, which we take very seriously. On the one hand, these savings measures affect teaching, but on the other hand, they also affect the daily work of the university staff. In this way, the University of Erfurt wants to and must make its contribution to saving energy in order to help secure the energy supply in the Free State of Thuringia.
Of course, we have already done a lot in recent years to improve our energy balance, for example by replacing thermostats on radiators, switching to LED lighting, optimizing the cooling supply in our server rooms, replacing old heating pumps with efficient pumps, or with our photovoltaic system on staff building 1, which we have also been using to generate our own energy and save CO2 since 2011. Nevertheless, further measures are necessary to achieve the energy savings targets.
In the course of individual energy savings, employees, but also all students and guests of the university are asked to pay attention to the following:
- heat rooms to a maximum of 19 degrees Celsius
- set radiators to "1" when leaving the room (not to "*")
- keep radiators clear
- keep doors and windows closed
- ventilate the room with a push instead of a tilt
- use cold water instead of hot water
- do not wash dishes by hand or under running water, use the dishwasher if available
- switch off (media) technology and lights after use or when leaving the room
- unplug chargers when not in use
In addition, during the weeks surrounding the turn of the year, from December 19, 2022 to January 14, 2023, attendance on campus will be reduced as much as possible in order to significantly reduce energy consumption. During this time, all employees will be asked to work as far as possible from home, if the conditions for this exist (suitable job profile and appropriate technical requirements, as well as ensuring a working method that complies with data protection regulations and an ergonomic workstation at home). In addition, we will convert teaching from face-to-face to online teaching and shorten the opening hours of the university library. When presence on campus is required, selected offices and parts of buildings are to be shared as far as possible, taking into account infection control, in order to avoid constant heating/cooling of rooms that are not in permanent use.
Particular weight in the energy-saving measures is attached to the university library, which is one of the main consumers of energy at the university, accounting for a good third of the total, and can therefore make a major contribution to savings. In view of the fact that most of the University of Erfurt's campus was built in the 1950s and is not optimal in terms of energy, we must pay particular attention to our largest consumers, namely the lecture halls and the library.
Against this background, the Presidium, at the suggestion of the crisis team and in consultation with the library management, decided in September to close the Erfurt University Library on weekends from October until the end of the year and to open it only until 8 p.m. on weekdays during this period. As of January 2, it will reopen regularly, including weekends. This decision was made so early at the urgent request of the faculties to allow for timely planning ahead for students and lecturers. It was prepared in the energy crisis team, following preliminary discussions between the library and the Student Council Executive Committee. The Presidium then passed a resolution to this effect, which was communicated through various university channels (website, social media, newsletter to all university members).
By temporarily closing the library on weekends, we can significantly save energy, namely electricity alone to the tune of approximately 10,000 kWh per month (which is roughly equivalent to the annual consumption of a four-person household) plus heating. Incidentally, the actual usage figures make this measure seem entirely justifiable. While up to 1,400 people currently enter the library on normal working days, the statistical average on weekend days is between 100 and around 200. On weekends, the library is mainly used as a quiet place to work rather than for "physical" media borrowing.
For this reason, the University of Erfurt allows its students to use two large heated rooms in the Audimax building (0007 and 0012) as a substitute for working and to access the campus WLAN there. This is intended to compensate for the workstations lost in the library with significantly lower energy consumption. In addition, books can still be borrowed from the library until 8 p.m. on weekdays; moreover, several tens of thousands of e-books, a large number of databases and more than 19,000 electronic journals and newspapers are available online around the clock. If necessary, the library's scanning service also offers the possibility of obtaining texts and data digitally. In addition, the Department of History, for example, has declared that it will extend the deadline for submitting seminar papers accordingly as a compensatory measure.
Against this background, the library closure on the weekends remaining in 2022 appears to be a comparatively "tolerable" and responsible decision. Especially since the University of Erfurt is by no means a solitary institution in Germany with its solidarity measures in saving energy. The Ruhr University of Bochum, the University of Bonn, the University of Duisburg-Essen, the University of Münster, to name but a few, also extend the Christmas break or shorten building openings. The University of Applied Sciences in Erfurt is also shortening its library opening hours and closing the university library on weekends, and even the University of Konstanz is currently moving away from its 24/7 library opening hours.
Overall, the University of Erfurt is therefore making great efforts to master the difficult balancing act between the required energy-saving measures and the desire for the best conditions for studying, teaching and research in the current situation. To this end, the energy crisis team meets regularly, naturally with the participation of the student council, in order to provide the Presidium with the best possible support. Yes, winter will be associated with restrictions, for society as a whole and for each individual. But we will continue to do everything we can to minimize the restrictions for everyone on campus. Nevertheless, only together and in unity will we be able to overcome even this difficult time.