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Energy efficiency

How green is LMU?

Munich, 07/06/2012

Sustainability is an international theme in 2012. Since last year LMU has met all of its energy needs from renewable sources, so that side of the equation works. What about the other – energy efficiency? Given the university’s size, measuring such a parameter sounds like a pretty tall order, but a new cooperative project, with the cryptic title HoEff (which stands for “Energieeffiziente Hochschule”), has done just that. Indeed, the efficiency of energy use in universities can now be quantitatively assessed with the aid of HoEff’s classification scheme for work spaces. 

The cover story in the latest issue of the Münchner UniMagazin, entitled “Wie grün ist LMU?” deals with the issue of sustainability on campus
The cover story in the latest issue of the Münchner UniMagazin, entitled “Wie grün ist die LMU?” (pdf, 880kb) deals with the issue of sustainability on campus

“In the good old days, electricity flowed straight out of the socket and heat came from the radiator – nobody gave much thought to energy consumption as such,” says Ursula Häufle, Head of the Division of Maintenance and Occupational Safety at LMU. This careless attitude to energy use is now a thing of the past – and its place has been taken by a growing awareness of the importance of sustainability for environmental conservation. This change is also reflected in the fact that, beginning last year, LMU now derives all the energy it requires from renewable sources. Wind and solar energy, hydroelectric power and other sustainable energy supplies now provide all the electricity LMU consumes, which amounts to some 60 gigawatt-hours per year. For comparison, that figure is equivalent to the amount used by the 18,000 inhabitants of Bad Reichenhall.

The traffic-light symbol
“Energy efficiency is difficult to quantify in a large institution like LMU, because of the very heterogeneous nature of its buildings and workspaces, and the lack of reliable reference values,” says Häufle. By installing modern metering systems, one can assess how much energy any given building consumes, but that in itself does not tell one very much about the efficiency of energy use. This led Häufle, a trained engineer, to initiate the HoEff project. This is a cooperative project with the University of Applied Sciences in Munich, among other partners, and is financially supported by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. The basic motivation for the project lay in the realization that the methods available for the measurement of energy efficiency in groups of diverse buildings are either very complicated or not particularly informative. The aim of HoEff, therefore, was to find simpler and faster ways of evaluating different types of buildings – such as those found on a university campus – and, in so doing, to make it easier to compare data between sites.

In the end, the HoEff team came up with a scheme for classifying workspaces and other types of facility into 15 types, to which over 80% of the total built-up area on the LMU campus could be assigned. For example, laboratories, offices, storerooms, libraries or computing facilities are allocated to different classes. On the basis of this scheme, one can compare the annual energy costs per unit area of a library with those of a laboratory, for instance. It turns out that laboratories, which the scheme allots to three different categories, use up a larger portion – more than one-third – of the annual energy budget than any other type of facility. Thus, while the annual energy bill for a square meter of library space is less than 30 euros, the corresponding figure for a laboratory, depending on the specific type, can be over four times as high. With the aid of this classification, the HoEff team developed profiles for the buildings on the LMU campus, which indicate what proportions of the space in any given building fall into what classes. These profiles make it possible to compare the actual level of energy consumption of a building with a standard or an optimal benchmark. “We also have plans to introduce a “traffic-light” symbol that tells us how well a building scores in terms of energy efficiency from both the structural and technical point of view,” says Häufle. Thus, the results of the project will enable specific comparisons of energy efficiency to be carried out, not only between individual buildings at LMU but between building complexes on different university campuses. In other words, HoEff has provided a reliable basis for the assessment of ways to reduce energy consumption further in the coming years.

Improving energy efficiency is not all
LMU’s commitment to promoting environmental conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources doesn’t stop at the light switch. Since 2003, LMU has also been an active participant in the project Ökoprofit, which is sponsored by the city of Munich. This initiative enables one to save money and help the environment at the same time. For example, on the site of its “headquarters” – the Main Building on Geschwister-Scholl-Platz and the newer edifices on Amalienstrasse, Ludwigstrasse and Schellingstrasse – LMU has been able to save some 55,000 euros annually by implementing measures to reduce litter and the consumption of water and electricity.

For further information on sustainability on campus, see the cover story in the latest issue of the Münchner UniMagazin entitled “Wie grün ist die LMU?” (pdf, 880kb).

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