Sustainability at HZB
We are committed to responsible and future-oriented activities.
With its Code of Conduct, HZB has set clear goals to conduct sustainable research, to be a responsible player and to protect natural resources. We see sustainability as a constantly evolving process. Sustainability places equal importance on ecological, economic and social factors, as a three-pillar model. These three factors mutually influence one another and, together, make sustainable development possible. Our sustainability concepts take additional inspiration from the joint project LeNa.
HZB’s goal: achieve CO2-neutrality by 2035
HZB has set itself the goal of becoming CO2-neutral by 2035. With the approval of the supervisory board, HZB has thus set a concrete date by which the centre will achieve CO2-neutrality. The next step is to work out what aspects are to be included in the calculation of the total CO2 emissions. At the same time, a medium- to long-term renovation concept will be drawn up as part of campus development. HZB has already made important changes in this direction over recent years: we use green electricity, are reducing business flights and will offset unavoidable air travel.
Driving forces: the Environment Team and the Environment Workgroup
Many employees are personally dedicated to combatting climate change, and bring this strong personal dedication into HZB. At the end of 2018, for example, around 20 employees formed an Environment Team. This team meets every three months, and has since grown to nearly 50 members. The Environment Team discusses suggestions on how to improve the eco-balance of HZB. These suggestions are then taken up by the Environment Workgroup, which evaluates them and presents them to Management.
HZB uses 100% green electricity
Because it operates large-scale technical facilities and laboratories, HZB consumes a large amount of electricity. Since the beginning of 2020, HZB has been powered exclusively from renewable sources. Through this conversion, approx. 17,400 tons of CO2 can be reduced annually (related to the year 2018). While that is good in itself, HZB is also looking for ways to lower its energy requirements. This is a priority topic, for example, in developing the concept for the successor synchrotron source BESSY III.
Up to 75% fewer business flights, even post-COVID-19
Air trips are especially harmful for the environment, and have an enormous impact on the CO2 balance of HZB. Upon the suggestion of the Environment Team, Management has therefore set an ambitious goal: “In the post-COVID-19 times, HZB will continue to pursue the strategic goal of keeping the number of business miles low and even bringing them down to below the average for 2015–2019, by at least 25% for European and intercontinental flights, and by at least 75% for domestic flights per year.”
Ecological design of the HZB campuses
HZB plans to combat the decline of insect populations and to make a positive contribution towards biodiversity by transforming Adlershof and Wannsee into natural, ecological campuses. Since 2019, for example, around 15 sheep and goats have been grazing the large meadow spaces in Wannsee, greatly reducing the need for mowing. Leaf vacs are forbidden as a rule, and leaf blowers are only allowed on asphalt and concrete areas. HZB has commissioned a study for the nature-compatible redesign of its Adlershof campus. This has already resulted in the first actions in 2020. The employees were included in the voting process for the individual measures.
For the LE building in Wannsee, HZB was awarded the silver medal of the Bewertungssystem für nachhaltiges Bauen, BNB (assessment system for sustainable construction).
Charging stations for electric vehicles
In 2020, HZB installed new charging columns for electric vehicles at both of its locations. These are for the vehicles in HZB’s fleet as well as for employees’ private electric cars. Charges for private use are managed through an app.
Fair trade coffee in the Wannsee canteen
Since 2020, the canteen team in Wannsee offers a diverse range of organic and fair trade coffee products.
Carpooling pinboard and company ticket
HZB provides an electronic pinboard in the Intranet for carpooling opportunities, and offers a discounted company ticket for public transport.
Support from overarching initiatives
HZB is actively involved in the Arbeitskreis „Forum Nachhaltigkeit“ of the Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft and participates in events such as the Helmholtz Sustainability Summit. Furthermore, many scientists are privately engaged in the #ScientistsforFuture movement or taking an active role in science communication.
The two pillars alongside ecology are economics (which for us is research) and social affairs.
HZB is the first non-university research institute to be going through the Diversity Audit of the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft (Donors' association for the promotion of humanities and sciences in Germany). Helmholtz presented a guideline for this process in June 2020.