Strong support for energy-saving campaign at AU

AU is taking major steps to save energy right now – and staff are responding with understanding, support and enthusiasm. If you want to help AU save energy, the campaign website has lots of information about the steps being taken across the university – as well as tips on what you can do to contribute.

Graphics: Nikolai Lander

The motion-activated lighting in our buildings switches off faster; ventilation and lab equipment are switched off outside working hours; and thermostats are set at 19° C.

These are just a few of the changes AU staff are seeing right now – or will see, as new energy-saving measures are implemented and the chill of autumn begins to bite. AU needs to cut its energy consumption to offset the huge surge in electricity prices that’s battering Danish society.  The university is facing a huge increase in its electricity bill – estimated at 70-80 million kroner in August – of a magnitude that it hasn’t budgeted for. Rising electricity prices require urgent action – we can all play our part

The university’s estate facilities teams have been working to reduce AU’s energy consumption for a month now. While it’s too early to measure their efforts in kilowatt hours saved, one positive effect is already being felt: local maintenance crews are reporting that staff are generally very understanding and supportive of the drive to save energy, and that they’re getting lots of good ideas from both administrative and academic staff. This is good news, according to University Director Arnold Boon:

“The entire facilities services division is working closely with the faculties' employees and managers to identify and implement the measures that will have the greatest effect on the university’s energy consumption – both right now and going forward. It’s a huge effort with a very short time horizon, and they’re doing a fantastic job,” Boon said, adding:

“Right now, we’re in a transitional period; the measures aren’t fully implemented, and the new habits haven’t become automatic yet. So we need to help each other do what’s necessary to make them a natural part of our day, in a positive and constructive way. I’m particularly pleased that our staff are getting involved and helping to find good solutions – it’s much appreciated.”

Use energy wisely

The message from AU’s facilities management division is that every little bit helps: we can all do our part. So AU has just launched the ‘Kilowhat can you do - use energy wisely’ campaign. To support the campaign, there’s a new website with information about the the steps the university is taking to save energy, as well as inspiration and tips on how you as an individual can help AU save energy. There’s good advice on what staff can do in the office, in the corridors, in the kitchen, in labs, in conference rooms – with regard to lab equipment, radiators and much more.

Some of the main take-home points are: switch off office equipment when not in use, for example on your lunch break or when you leave for the day; print less; fill the dishwasher up completely; and use kitchen appliances wisely. When it comes to heating, as a general rule, all thermostats should be set at 2, which is about 19° C. And if you open the windows to get some fresh air, remember to turn off the heat.

There are also a lot of specific tips on how to save energy in a laboratory setting developed by a group of AU lab technicians and researchers. For example, the campaign website advises labs to set their freezers at -70 °C rather than -80 °C, and to turn off point extraction when not in use.

Posters with good advice on how to save energy will be put up around the university, and the information on the campaign website will be updated regularly.

AU is not the only Danish workplace that has to save energy – companies and institutions across industries and sectors are in the same boat. The Danish Energy Agency recently launched a national energy-saving campaign aimed at workplaces. AU’s effort is in line with the national effort.