Reducing the University's Energy Consumption


As part of the Energy-Efficient Campus project, a feasibility study is being conducted with the aim to reduce the University's primary energy consumption by 50 percent by 2025.


The basis for the ambitious initiative was laid in a preceding project which analyzed the University’s energy system, equipped it with additional measuring technology, and developed simulation tools.

As Professor Dirk Müller, the head of E.ON ERC’s Institute for Energy Efficient Buildings and Indoor Climate, explains: “Not only did we take a close look at the building facades, but also at the entire supply structure, including the individual facilities’ systems, the University’s heating plants, and the heating and cooling networks.”

For analysis purposes, RWTH’s 1.8 km supply tunnel was equipped with ultrasound volume flow and temperature sensors. Furthermore, a simulation model of the entire network was developed which takes into account both pressure and thermal losses.

With the help of the measurements and the model, various scenarios for improved heating and cooling energy supplies for the RWTH buildings were simulated.

Savings in Primary Energy

According to Dietmar Wenner, the deputy head of the Facility Management division, one of the findings was that the individual boilers for the long-distance heating network are to be replaced with a combined heat and power system, which is economically and environmentally favorable: “A dynamic analysis shows that heat can be more efficiently supplied and that most of the electricity needed on campus can be generated locally.” As Dirk Müller adds: “These savings in primary energy are economically more efficient than the costly energy-efficient modernization of all buildings in the network.”

For a holistic analysis of the buildings and the supply systems, it is necessary to investigate both general systemic aspects and the behavior of the system under operating conditions. For this reason, the project requires comprehensive measurements and analysis of the resulting data. As Müller explains, the measurements of energy consumption and various building data will be complemented by individual mobile measurements.

All data gained will be collected in a database and visualized in an interactive map. Apart from material and technical building data, “soft” factors such as usage periods, technical equipment, pollutant aspects, and monument protection aspects will be taken into account. Furthermore, the Chair of Building Technology has developed a user survey, which makes it possible to confirm and complement the database parameters.

Upon completion of the two-year project, a concrete plan for the implementation of the energy supply and consumption optimization measures shall be delivered. As Dirk Müller puts it, “the project is fully in line with RWTH’s ambition to take on a leading role in the region in implementing Germany’s energy transformation. We will prepare our results and make them available to other institutions so as to support them in making their energy supply systems more efficient. And of course we thank the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy for the financial support."


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