Our Energy Consumption

  The back of SuperC and Altes Heizkraftwerk buildings, taken at night Copyright: © Martin Braun  

RWTH is supplied with energy via its own networks for district heating, natural gas, electricity, cooling, compressed air, and water. As the number and technology of the buildings continue to grow, the demands on the energy and water supply are also increasing.

For more than 15 years now, the development of the University's energy consumption and procurement activities has been presented in regular energy reports. These balance the consumption and cost data as well as the development of energy, drinking water, and emissions since the year 2000. The energy reports can be found in the downloads section on the Department – 10.0 Facility Management website.

More research needs more energy. The energy purchased from energy suppliers in the form of natural gas, district heating, and electricity at RWTH increased by approximately 33 percent in absolute terms from 2000 to 2020. However, in relation to the simultaneous high increase in floor space (+ 65 percent), this corresponds to a decrease of approximately 30 percent in the energy consumption index (energy consumption/square meter).

  Image "Development of RWTH's Energy Consumption From 2019 to 2021“. A more detailed alternative text is avaialble at the bottom of the page.

As one of the largest technical universities in Europe with approximately 47,000 students, 550 professors, 260 institutes, and an area of more than 600,000m², RWTH is the size of a small town with the corresponding infrastructure and operations. For example, the University's electricity consumption is roughly equivalent to that of 25,000 four-person households in Germany.

In order to counter the energy and climate crisis, not only in the short term, our goal is to reduce the energy demand as a whole: for the environment, society, and for all of us here.

In addition to implementing key measures, we can also achieve significant savings through small behavioral adjustments, both at work and at home. For example, you can try out some of our tips on how to save energy at work.

Further information on supply structures as well as developments in energy consumption, also according to energy sources, is detailed in our Sustainability Report.


RWTH is Saving Energy

Monthly heating requirements were reduced by around 20 percent in the winter of 2022. The main underlying energy sources are district heating and natural gas. After we achieved a saving of 26 percent in October 2022, compared to October 2021, we were able to continue this trend in November. In November 2022, RWTH Aachen University's heating demand was 20 percent lower than in November 2021.

Monthly electricity demand was also reduced by up to 10 percent. The reduced electricity demand was also evident as early as in October with a saving of 7 percent and a 10 percent saving was achieved in November compared to the previous year 2021.

As new buildings were also connected to the grid during this period, these savings also show that we are managing to overcompensate, since the total area of RWTH increased during the same period. Although the values include weather effects, we can clearly see a positive trend in energy consumption.

In addition to central measures, the individual members of the University are also responsible for these savings, as they have jointly achieved this positive development through their responsible and sustainable actions!


RWTH is Purchasing Green Electricity

Despite the ongoing energy crisis, appropriate requirements for a "green electricity" purchase were formulated for the first time during the 2022 tender process for the purchase of electricity from 2023 onwards. Since the term "green electricity" is not protected or definitively defined, it was specifically formulated as follows. "Energy from renewable, non-fossil energy sources is: wind, solar, geothermal, ambient air energy, hydrothermal, ocean energy, hydropower, biomass, landfill gas, sewage treatment plant gas, and biogas." It was also included that the quality of the electricity must be proven by certificate (for example, HKNR or comparable).

After successfully completing the tendering process, RWTH Aachen University has been purchasing all of its electricity from renewable sources as defined above since January 1, 2023.

  Copyright: © Martin Braun

Our declared goal is to contribute to securing a livable future by developing University operations in a sustainable way. It is our mission, for example, to become a climate-neutral university by 2030. (...) To reach our goals, we combine the scientific expertise from our faculties with practical implementation in our operations. (...)

Only through the commitment, openness, and willingness of all RWTH members will we succeed in making the operations of our teaching, learning, and research landscape sustainable in the long term as well.

Manfred Nettekoven, Chancellor

Thomas Trännapp, Permanent Deputy Chancellor


Alternative Text for the Image "Energy Consumption of RWTH From 2019 to 2021"

A diagram with three stacked columns showing RWTH's energy consumption from 2019 to 2021 when it comes to the areas of heating, electricity, cooling, and overall consumption.

The columns each consist of three different shades of blue - dark at the bottom for heating, medium blue in the middle for electricity, and light blue at the top for cooling. The respective values are indicated in white at the top of each area. The total energy consumption per year is shown in black above each column, and the development over the years is indicated by a turquoise line connecting the columns.

From left:

  • Column 1 – 2019: Total energy consumption 253,904 MWh, of which heating: 109,267 MWh, electricity: 111,427 MWh, cooling: 33,210 MWh.
  • Column 2 – 2020: Total energy consumption 246,576 MWh, of which heating: 108,236 MWh, electricity: 107,073 MWh, cooling: 31,267 MWh
  • Column 3 – 2021: Total energy consumption 260,525 MWh, of which heating: 121,896 MWh, electricity: 107,171 MWh, cooling: 31,458 MWh