Together for tomorrow
The University of Bonn energy strategy

The University of Bonn energy strategy

Energy has become an increasingly urgent public issue talked about over the last several weeks and months. The war in Ukraine has laid bare our dependencies, the consequences of which we will now have to all shoulder together. With so many of the concrete implications unknown and unpredictable at this time it is imperative that the University of Bonn proceed in accordance with an energy strategy. This coming winter and in the years ahead, energy will be a key societal issue that will continue significantly affecting University operations.

It's important to us all: Make a difference!
© Universität Bonn

What we want to achieve...

The leadership of the University of Bonn has thus adopted an energy strategy focused on the following objectives:

  • continuing current teaching and research operations and other official activities with as little disruption as possible
  • minimizing energy consumption in accordance with legally binding requirements outlined by the authorities
  • identifying further reduction potential
  • motivating University staff and students to do their part; encouraging suggestions for creative measures
Studierende stehen an einem Geländer im Hauptgebäude und unterhalten sich.
© Universität Bonn/ Bernadett Yehdou
Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© Universität Bonn/ Volker Lannert

This has already been implemented...

To achieve this, there are a number of measures that have already been implemented:

  • The Task Forces for research, teaching and operations which were formed as part of and proved effective in the pandemic response are to be realigned as strategy teams which as of immediately will be discussing measures and developing creative ideas for the energy strategy to be implemented over the short to medium term.
  • Energy monitoring of the most important buildings has been broadly conducted, yielding energy consumption data. As a next step, Section 4.3 will be inspecting the 40 most energy-intensive buildings on campus and advising the building managers on how to go about implementing measures.
  • The deans and managing directors have already been discussing the need to cut energy usage. Specific measures are now being outlined for realizing reduction scenarios of 20% in several areas while keeping operations unaffected to the extent possible.
  • A broad communication campaign is in place, designed to get all University staff and students on board in support of the energy strategy. Information on the measures being implemented will thus be communicated over the coming weeks ahead along with tips of a specific nature which enable every individual to contribute within his or her own work or study environment.

This is what is discussed...

University leadership has already been in dialogue with many of the University’s stakeholders to identify specific measures that can be taken immediately, implementable either centrally or independently by the various decentral units. It is key that these efforts be fundamentally aligned, allowing adjustment on the detail level in individual areas where special challenges emerge.

  • The points include: extended closure of up to two weeks’ duration over Christmas/New Year break yielding a potential 2.5% annual reduction
  • Limiting operational time to a maximum 10 hours on five or seven days of the week, yielding a potential 10% or 15% annual reduction.
  • Lowering room temperature in buildings to 19 degrees Celsius for a potential annual reduction of 2%, subject to continuing compliance with occupational safety laws.
  • Further lowering of night-time temperature for a potential reduction of up to 2% annually.

These measures are to be implemented in close coordination with the Occupational Safety and Environmental Protection Unit, and we will be informing you promptly regarding suitable approaches for handling any resulting operational impact.

Studierende fahren auf dem Fahrrad an einer Stele mit Uni-Logo vorbei
© Unversität Bonn/ Bernadett Yehdou

Our goal:

20 %


© Universität Bonn

We need your help...

The University has already taken numerous steps and made all the necessary adjustments on things that have to be managed centrally. However, we can only achieve our objectives if you’re on board too, because your contribution will also enable us to save energy—not only for today, but also for the future.

To show you some ways in which you can save energy, we’ve put together a list of FAQs, which will be updated regularly.

FAQ on the Energy Strategy

Study and teaching

The University of Bonn was aiming to reduce its carbon emissions even before the start of the energy crisis, which, among other things, is a result of the war in Ukraine. The recent agreement concluded between universities in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) is to, first and foremost, contribute to lower energy consumption and to support the nationwide attempt of preventing a shortage of energy supplies. In addition, the University is facing soaring energy bills and therefore must save money to avoid having to cut costs in other areas. In contrast to private households, the “spending cap” for universities in NRW only applies to 70 percent of costs to date. If no energy was saved, additional costs of two-digit million euros would incur. Each energy unit that is not being used therefore not only saves climate-damaging carbon dioxide, but also costs.

Current consumption is being compared with averages noted between 2017 and 2021.

Mainly via adjusting settings at heating and ventilation systems across all premises—offices, lecture halls and laboratories. German law stipulates a room temperature of maximum 19 degrees Celsius. To define and apply effective measures, energy consumption of the 40 biggest buildings was analyzed and potential savings discussed with users of the facilities. Measures are subject to limitations by construction-related issues that cannot be solved at short notice via restoration as well as by specifications that apply to listed buildings which many of the University of Bonn buildings classify as. Monthly energy consumption of the 40 biggest buildings is being calculated and monitored so as to be able to introduce counterbalancing measures should saving targets not be achieved.

In light of the risk of a significant reduction or interruption to gas supplies from Russia, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy triggered the “early warning level” of its emergency gas plan on March 30, 2022, moving to the first alarm level on June 23, 2022.

According to a communique by the Bundesnetzagentur on August 11, 2022, the situation remains fraught and may potentially deteriorate further. However, gas supplies in Germany are currently considered stable. Wholesale prices remain extremely high as a result of the latest cut in supply. Energy suppliers are advising businesses and private consumers that they will need to prepare for gas prices to continue rising sharply.

Should it become necessary for the final alarm level to be triggered, this would see the Bundesnetzagentur assume the role of national supply coordinator (Bundeslastverteiler) in cooperation with the local grid operators and distribute available gas supplies among consumers.

For the eventuality that customers are to be cut off, there are legal provisions in place that govern which customers are allowed to be disconnected and which are not. As a basic principle, § 53a of the Energy Industry Act (EnWG) counts private customers and those whose consumption is metered (standard load profile customers with an annual consumption of less than 1.5 million kWh, or “SLP customers” for short) among the protected group. Social services such as hospitals, penal institutions, refugee accommodation and police stations with gas meters (annual consumption over 1.5 million kWh; “RLM customers” for short) are also deemed to be protected customers.

The University now needs to consume less energy, particularly gas. This objective, which has also been pursued on sustainability grounds up until now, requires our concerted efforts and attention in light of the current situation and as we prepare for the possibility of tighter restrictions and regulations on savings targets. All the innovative ideas that we can come up with need to be made use of, and we will need your help in this.

Shortening opening hours (logically) also means increasing the number of hours that a library is closed and the room temperature can be lowered to a set figure (“night setback”). However, these measures are only applied to periods when substantially fewer people are making use of the libraries, i.e. during off-peak hours and weekends. Temperatures are also lowered in other University buildings as of 6 pm (or 8 pm exceptions applying), weekends throughout. Courses/events affected by the lowering of temperature have been moved to hours of regular heating.

All measures were closely discussed and coordinated between the Rectorate, central administration, faculties, student body and staff councils and received support on all sides.

Yes, teaching throughout the winter semester continues to take place in person. Thanks to current saving measures we have been able to avoid returning to online teaching and further impacting study activities/introducing additional restrictions.


Please set the thermostatic valve between 1 and 2 when you leave the office for a longer period. Temperatures in the buildings will be lowered centrally where possible. However, the buildings should not cool down too much by turning down the thermostatic heads completely.

The Energy Saving Ordinance requires offices in public buildings to be heated to no more than 19°C, which corresponds to setting a thermostatic valve between 2 and 3. We will need your help to achieve this because the temperature in most rooms is set directly on the thermostatic valves themselves. Please set your valves to between 2 and 3 (2.5) when you start work. When you go home, or if you are going to be leaving your work room for more than an hour, set the valves to * or 1 (depending on the model) by hand.

The only thing that can be done on the central heating systems is to make a rough adjustment to heating water temperatures in line with weather conditions. However, this is not enough to control the actual temperature inside a room, which can only be done at the thermostatic valves on the radiators in your work rooms.

If default settings on the central heating systems prevent work rooms from cooling to 19°C, please log this via the reporting portal. Section 4.3 will then adjust the settings on the heating system if necessary.

Additional radiators are available for employees for whom a maximum room temperature of 19°C is not sufficient. In this case, please contact the colleagues of Dept. 4.3.

The University will be handing out thermometers over the coming weeks so that people can check whether their rooms are at 19°C.

Office doors should be closed to save on heating energy and keep heat inside. Thermostatic valves in corridors are to be set to frost protection (* or 1, depending on the model).

Please set your thermostatic valves to frost protection (* or 1, depending on the model) when you leave the office.

Set the thermostatic valve to frost protection (* or 1, depending on the model).

No. These are not permitted and must not be used in the workplace. The energy saving measures also cover electricity consumption, and auxiliary electric heaters are extremely power-hungry.

Appliances also pose a fire risk, particularly if they have not been tested or are not being operated correctly. The electric circuits in the University’s work rooms are generally too weak to cope with electric heaters. Running them could therefore cause outages and interrupt operations, especially if several appliances were to be connected to a single circuit.

Rearrange your furniture — your radiators must be left as clear as possible. Do not use them as a shelf for books or documents. Remove any covers where possible. If necessary, please raise a support ticket in the reporting portal.

Please raise a ticket in the reporting portal in order to arrange a replacement.

Hot Water

The current Ordinance to Ensure Energy Supplies via Short-Term Measures requires public buildings to switch off local drinking water heaters, particularly instantaneous water heaters or local hot-water tanks, if they are mainly used for washing hands. Appliances can be kept on, either temporarily or permanently, if they need to run for hygiene reasons. The rules do not apply to medical facilities, facilities for the disabled, care homes, schools or daycare centers.

Please raise a ticket in the reporting portal for the appliances to be removed. Section 4.3 will take care of the next steps.

While the appliances remain installed, please always turn the mixer faucet to its coldest position to prevent them from starting up.


Open all the windows and doors fully for a short time—never leave them ajar for long periods. Do this several times a day. For a particularly quick exchange of air, you should open opposite windows and doors as this creates a through-draft. During the winter, it is most effective to do this for five to ten minutes. N.B.: during the heating season, always turn thermostats down before ventilating a room to prevent any heating energy from being wasted.


Yes. Even though many more modern electrical appliances no longer consume as much energy in standby mode as in the past, you should switch them off at the mains after use or use a switched power strip. The cumulative effect of doing this can help save energy. Switched power strips can be requested from Unit 4.3.6 Energy Management.

You can reduce the brightness of your screen in the corresponding menu. Reducing it by 15% saves energy and is actually more comfortable on the eyes.

Please turn your screensaver off in the settings because it stops your computer from going into standby mode. Energy saving mode should kick in after no more than 10 minutes.

Please raise a ticket in the reporting portal. The lighting will be checked to see whether it is actually required and switched off if possible.

 Please do join in!

We know that the departments and institutes can draw on their own expertise to make some excellent proposals for achieving further savings. We would also kindly like to ask you for your support as well: Division 4 is happy to hear your suggestions and ideas as well as any questions you may have concerning the planned measures.

Artenvielfalt_Universität Bonn.jpg
© Universität Bonn/Volker Lannert

Sustainability at the University of Bonn

The energy strategy pays directly into the university's sustainability goals. You can find all the information you need on the sustainability portal.

Important Dokuments

We will be putting together all the important documents for you here, including circulars, government regulations and ordinances as well as resolutions. We will be updating the documents on an ongoing basis once new announcements are made.

Bundestag in Berlin
© Colourbox/ Magicpitzy


Anika Veith

For questions from institutes and administrative units.

+49 228 73-9000

Wird geladen