Campus - 11.07.2022 - 00:00

HSG on course with sustainable energy supply

Saving energy is the order of the day. The University of St.Gallen, too, is making efforts to run its campus on a low-energy footing. As the current stock-taking reveals, the University reduced its energy consumption per student by approx. 25 per cent between 2014 and 2021. The CO2 intensity of energy sources also decreased.

11 July 2022. According to the stock-taking, the renovation of the library and the continual optimisation of campus operations have contributed to a higher level of sustainability. The first carbon footprint of the University of St.Gallen (HSG) was measured by students of the initiative oikos about ten years ago, in autumn 2012. Sustainable facility management and the concomitant measurements and optimisation drives are incumbent on the University’s Construction+Technology Group. Thanks to the extensive measures which the team headed by Markus Steiner, the HSG’s expert on sustainable facility management, has implemented in the past few years, the HSG campus has the function of a role model in the cantonal target agreement group of large-scale energy consumption buildings.

Climate neutrality by 2030

By signing the Global Universities and Colleges Climate Letter in October 2019, the HSG joined the UNFCC’s Race to Zero campaign. This means that the HSG is one of the more than 1,000 signatories worldwide and one of 14 Swiss universities that have committed themselves to reducing their emissions to net zero. The HSG has set itself the target of doing so by 2030. From sustainable energy solutions to business models for the circular economy: numerous researchers of the HSG also take their bearings for their projects from the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and produce applications for the campus and for society. The HSG Impact Awards are awarded annually to HSG researchers who make a societal contribution with their projects. A year ago, for instance, the prize went to Prof. Dr. Sebastian Utz, who had developed a portfolio model for sustainable investments. 

Pandemic lowered carbon footprint

Every year, there are specific objectives for an improvement in the energy efficiency of campus operations. The target agreements of 2021 were distinctly exceeded by the HSG: since 2014, energy consumption per student has been reduced overall by about a quarter. However, the increase in energy efficiency in the last two years must also be attributed to the somewhat reduced campus operations during the corona pandemic. During regular operation, the large-scale use of LED lamps, the replacement of old facility technologies with modern, efficient appliances, as well as optimisation measures such as time switches for lighting and ventilation systems allow for an optimised energy supply. The renovation work done on the 30-year-old HSG library building was one of the measures that also reduced the consumption of resources: an additional layer of insulation and new window panes ensure that the building can be heated and cooled more efficiently in the cold season and the summer, respectively.

More sustainability through renewable energy

Renewable energies, too, are increasingly used at the HSG. Electric power is now supplied by hydro-electric power stations. Last year, in the course of the renovation work, a photovoltaic system was installed on the roofs of the HSG library and the SQUARE. The HSG covers its electricity consumption with pure water power and its own PV production. This reduces the carbon footprint of primary energy. After the major steps of the past few years, the HSG’s carbon footprint will, if possible, be further reduced by numerous smaller steps.

Image: University of St.Gallen (HSG)