Energy costs eat into Faculty of Science and Engineering’s reserves

If the energy costs continue to be as high as they are now, the Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) will run out of its reserves by 2026. Right now, the faculty has approximately fifty million euros left in reserves. 

This according to the multi-annual budget recently discussed during a faculty council meeting. If the recent price increases for gas and electricity aren’t taken into account in the projections, everything is fine; the faculty will have a ‘healthy’ 40 million reserve left in 2026. 

The faculty board is worried, although they do say it’s pointless to respond to the projections right now. ‘It’s too early to predict how the energy prices and inflation will develop over the next few years’, the board writes. 

30 percent

In the meantime, FSE wants to reduce its energy use by 30 percent within the next three years. They’ll do this by implementing measures that are used university-wide, such as comfort times and limiting buildings’ opening hours. However, the faculty will also come up with measures of its own.

It’s a good thing that the faculty set up the sustainability committee ‘FSE is going Green’ before the energy crisis. This committee is focused on green initiatives and saving energy. ‘That will get an extra boost now’, says portfolio manager Esther Marije Klop.

Extra gauges

The faculty will install extra gauges in the buildings to monitor the energy use of each wing, hallway, or laboratory. ‘That will enable us to figure out in great detail where we can save more energy’, says Klop. She also wants to gain insight into which equipment uses the most energy. ‘That might allow us to plan its usage more carefully. If that’s impossible, so be it. But anything we can gain from it is a plus.’

Lab staff will be asked to set the freezers to -70 degrees Celsius rather than -80. Research centres the Stratingh Institute for Chemistry and the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences will start a pilot to make their labs greener, and the faculty wants to organise an ‘insulation day’ during which staff will stick insulating foil on their windows and reflective foil behind their radiators. 

Two-week break

The faculty is also investigating whether it can close down for two weeks around Christmas and New Year’s Eve rather than just two days. ‘But that’s tricky. We have to take into account all kinds of equipment that can’t just be left to cool down or heat up. On top of that, ventilation is also a safety issue.’

Finally, employees who are left working at energy guzzler Nijenborgh 4 after the Feringa Building is finished will be clustered together as much as possible to prevent every single wing from staying open. ‘Nijenborgh is as leaky as a sieve.’

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