SustainabilitySustainability in university operations

Heidelberg University pursues sustainability, energy efficiency and climate protection goals in its own operations, both at the conceptual level and via a range of individual measures. Its comprehensive floor-space management enables the university to use synergies and conserve resources.

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Sustainable energy supply

Relying on internal energy intracting, the university is investing in the optimisation of technical equipment and lighting systems. It also operates an energy monitoring system with nearly 2,000 energy meters. The university installs photovoltaic systems in new or renovated buildings whenever this is economically viable.

Renewal of the outdoor lighting

The outdoor lighting on the Neuenheimer Feld Campus was changed to modern LED technology in 2016. The energy savings of 81 megawatt hours per year achieved with this pilot project correspond to a reduction of CO2 emissions by 31 metric tons. Twenty-five per cent of the university’s investment volume of 59,000 euros was funded through the National Climate Initiative. The university plans to update the rest of its outdoor lighting by 2023. The switch to LED technology on all university premises will save an estimated 336 megawatt hours of electricity per year – equivalent to 142 metric tons of CO2. The cost of this project, 1.6 million euros, will be shared equally by the university and the state of Baden-Württemberg.

Sustainability in Research Activities

Configuring research operations more sustainably: this is the goal of the international certification programme My Green Lab, in which 15 laboratories at Heidelberg University are participating. The eight-to-ten month evaluation process there aims to reduce energy, resource and water consumption on a sustainable and long-term basis. Initiated by the Vice Rectorate for Quality Development and Sustainability, the certification programme starts in early March 2024 and will be supported by the project office for climate protection and sustainability in the Division of Planning, Construction and Safety.

Energy efficiency at the University Computing Centre

The University Computing Centre (URZ) is implementing measures for an energy- and space-saving management of the growing IT infrastructure. At the presentation ceremony of the 2014 German Data Centre Award, Heidelberg University came in second in the category ‘Energy- and Resource-Efficient Data Centres.’ The URZ was recognised for an innovative cooling concept that was implemented in the course of the expansion of its premises. The construction project also includes the relocation of several institute servers to the URZ to ensure energy-efficient operation.

Environmental and energy officers

In addition to an environmental officer, the university also employs a central energy officer in charge of energy conservation and construction or energy officers in its decentralised institutions. The ‘Energy Conservation’ work group, which meets two to three times a year, analyses how the university can minimise or reduce its impact on the environment. The university’s scientific work shops and the central interim storage facility for chemical waste were certified in 2014 and 2018, respectively, within the framework of the ‘Sustainable Management’ project funded by the city of Heidelberg.

Sustainable mobility

The university offers its employees a comprehensive job ticket to encourage the use of public transport and help reduce the number of cars on the road. It also supports the change to all-electric commercial and service vehicles on its campuses. All parking facilities are part of a chargeable parking-space management system. In order to help improve the overall traffic situation in Heidelberg, the university took part in the city’s 2021 ‘Business Mobility Management’ subsidy programme. Following a comprehensive analysis of local conditions and infrastructure, the university developed an individual set of measures to promote eco-friendly mobility. These include additional bicycle parking racks and especially a greater number of charging stations for electric vehicles.


With the goal of promoting a sustainable handling of resources, Heidelberg University has drawn up a climate action policy which, besides presenting a balance sheet for greenhouse gas emissions, particularly focuses on analysing potential emission reduction and assessing various scenarios. The project was funded over a period of two years by the National Climate Action Initiative of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action to the tune of 135,000 euros.

Current Projects

Renovation of the Botanical Garden

In order to increase the long-term energy efficiency of the glass greenhouses, the university plans to carry out a comprehensive renovation of its Botanical Garden from 2023. In addition to structural measures designed to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, there are plans to build a cistern under the greenhouse complex. The rainwater caught by the cistern, which has a capacity of roughly 1,000 cubic metres, will be used to irrigate the garden’s plants.

Botanical Garden Homepage

Botanischer Garten