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Executive Board column: Working together to save energy

The rising energy prices cannot have escaped anyone’s notice. They have dominated the news in recent months. As a university, we too face a big challenge as the prices continue to rise. We will all have to do our bit in the coming months, also in view of the climate crisis that we want to help resolve.

In this column Annetje Ottow, Hester Bijl and Martijn Ridderbos give a peek behind the scenes at the Executive Board of Leiden University. What does their work involve? What makes them enthusiastic? What challenges do they face? Building a healthy and engaged learning community begins with sharing what you are up to. This time it’s Martijn Ridderbos’s turn.

Through our sustainabiligy programme, we have been working hard for some time to reduce our energy consumption. We are installing more and more solar panels, insulating buildings and using thermal storage and LED lighting. In our budget for next year, we had factored in a substantial increase in energy prices but now more money will be needed. Our sustainability ambitions and the additional funds will probably not be enough to absorb the increase in energy prices

Intensive users

To save extra energy, we are looking at a number of intensive users. These include the Gorlaeus Building and the Sylvius Laboratory because of the research carried out here. We are discussing with the users of these buildings whether they can use energy more wisely but realise this should not be at the expense of research. We are therefore looking together for promising solutions.

De universiteit gebruikt jaarlijks evenveel gas als 3000 huishoudens.

Something everyone will have noticed is that we have turned down the thermostat in our buildings by two degrees. The University uses as much gas as 3,000 households every year. By turning the thermostat down by 2 degrees, we will save 5 to 10 per cent of the gas we use, i.e. the energy consumption of 150 to 300 households. We are also looking into turning off the heating in our buildings at night. Normally it is on in winter, so we don’t have to heat them much in the morning. You can see how much energy your building uses in the Leiden University Energy Transition Monitor.

Warm sweater

You may need to wear a warm sweater to the office from time to time next winter. And, most importantly, do what you do at home at work. Turn off lights when you are not in a room, only turn on the dishwasher when it is full and think about energy-saving measures and discuss them with your colleagues and manager. After all, it will save us a lot of money if we save as much energy as possible. Then we can use this money for our teaching and research rather than see it disappear into the pockets of the energy companies.

Shoulders to the wheel

I hope everyone will realise they can help us save energy. If you have creative solutions on how to reduce our energy consumption, they are very welcome. Let’s put our shoulders to the wheel.

Share your thoughts on this column by sending an email to nieuws@leidenuniv.nl.

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