Energy-saving measures and end-of-year building closure implemented again

This summer and in the winter, WUR is continuing its ‘Turn it down a notch’ campaign. These energy-saving measures will mean limited cooling and heating of the buildings. And together, we'll continue to ensure that lights and devices are only on when necessary. As in the past two years, many of the WUR buildings will be closed during the year-end period. In this article, we will explain more about this measure.

A summary of the building closure

From Monday 23 December 2024 to Sunday 5 January 2025, many of the WUR buildings will be closed. Forum and Actio will stay open during this period. Forum will be open to students and staff on weekdays during both weeks. Actio will only be open to staff on weekdays during the first week of January.

You are welcome to come and work in these buildings and booking a workplace is not required. WUR buildings or areas that need to be open to carry out statutory duties and/or necessary building-related work remain accessible.

Why does WUR close buildings again this year?

WUR wants to contribute to a sustainable future by using sustainable energy sources, for example, the Thermal Energy Storage (ATES) on campus. In addition, WUR is aiming to permanently reduce its energy consumption. During the period from Christmas through the first week of January, few staff and students tend to come to campus because many people take leave during this holiday period. Buildings are often largely empty and sites outside Wageningen run a winter schedule.

The heating and lighting of all the buildings is inefficient for so few people. WUR has therefore decided to repeat the year-end closure during that period. By concentrating workplaces in Forum and Actio, we can save energy. In 2025, all the energy-saving measures will be evaluated. As in previous years, we take a customised approach. The measures for each building will be determined in close consultation with the directors of operational management and site managers, among others.

What do these measures yield in terms of energy saving?

Last year, the combination of the end-of-year closure, connecting Radix-West and Atlas to the ATES loop and the other energy-saving measures resulted in 11% less gas consumption (22,000 m3 gas) compared to the same period a year earlier. Connecting to the ATES loop will result in substantial gas savings. However, the ATES is leading to slightly higher electricity consumption this year (about 3%, some 60,000 kWh). This is because the heat pumps and the ATES pumps now used to heat the buildings run on electricity. Ultimately, the ATES system (heat pump and ATES pump) is more energy efficient than heating a building with gas.

What did we learn from last year?

We evaluated last year’s ‘Turn it down a notch’ measures based on reports received by Servicedesk Facilities and conversations with site managers and technical building managers. Finally, there was a survey among staff, PhD students and students about the 'Turn it down a notch' campaign. The evaluation shows that there is an understanding of the measures and that most respondents support them.

There are concerns and areas for improvement too. One concern is that building closure will lead to higher heating costs at home. Coordinator Pim Marcusse says that this is certainly not the intention, nor does it need to be an automatic consequence. After all, it is always possible to come and work on campus. “Over these two weeks, however, you won't be working in your own workplace, but in Forum or Actio," says Pim.

Another issue is that some staff sometimes find their building too cold. According to Pim Marcusse, in some buildings, this is due to technical issues with the building installations, which are separate from the energy-saving measures. He explains: “For that reason, we raised the base temperature slightly last year, and we will do the same this year. We also continue to monitor the actual temperature locally. In this way, we hope to minimise complaints about cold."

Other areas for improvement relate to communication: telling people about the end-of-year closure before the summer and explaining the specific measures for each building even more clearly.

This year, several more buildings on campus will be connected to the ATES. This will be followed by a review of all the energy measures in spring 2025.

What's next?

The energy measures project team will inform staff about this before the summer. And we are currently informing and consulting specific groups like the PhD council. In each building, the site managers will work with the directors of operational management and others who are directly involved to determine which measures can be applied in that building. An important starting point is that the performance of statutory tasks and/or necessary building-related work must be able to continue (for example, education planning that can sometimes only be done on-site). They will then inform the relevant building users.

Any questions? Want to know more?

We're aware that the energy-saving measures are not always pleasant and may be inconvenient. At the same time, we are counting on the support of staff and students to help us reduce our energy consumption. Please contact the Facilities Service Desk for any questions.