How can we make our institute more sustainable?
The main research focus of HI ERN is the investigation and development of material- and process-based solutions for a climate-neutral, sustainable, and cost-effective utilization of renewable energies. Sustainability not only plays a role in HI ERN research, but should also be a guideline in the daily life of the institute. This is why a group of motivated HI ERN employees from a wide range of backgrounds has joined forces to work bottom-up to find ways to run the insititute in a more sustainable way.
Fields of interests are:
Energy - Such a big research institute has a high energy demand. Nevertheless, there is a lot of potential in reducing this energy demand (lights, screens, devices left on without notice). We try to exploit this potential by providing useful tips to every employee. And additionally on the long run, we try to organize the supply of our new institute building with 100% renewable energy.
Waste - It is desireable to avoid waste by using multiuse tools such as glass pipettes (instead of plastic syringes) if possible and by recycling of valuable “waste” materials.
Sustainable procurement - "Think big, start small" There are sustainable alternatives for almost all everyday consumables (e.g. notepads, post it's, pads, pens, folders, and calculators) but also more general office equipment (e.g. PC mice). When ordering, we try to make sure that the products have an environmental label, such as the Blue Angel or the EU Ecolabel. But we are also aware: The most sustainable procurement is not to buy a new product - if possible.
Mobility - When talking about sustainability, the topic "travel" plays a major role in research. We try to rise awareness and are currently discussing guidelines at our institute to reduce emissions in this area.
Food - With two tons CO2 eq. per person and year food products are relevant to sustainability. The most important factors to increase sustainability are: regionality, seasonality, fresh & less meat. We also try to implement this in the catering for our events.
Awareness - Every two month we write a newsletter, where we update our employees on the above mentioned topics. Besides work-related tips, we also put a focus on the private life and spotlight interesting initiatives, projects etc. nearby.
By 29 July, humanity has consumed as much as the earth can renew throughout the year. Last year Earth Overshoot Day was on the calendar three days later.
(Source: Global Footprint Network, Country Overshoot Days)