From October onwards, the UT will part with the Russian Gazprom. The new contract with Vattenfall will cause a sharp increase in energy costs. On Wednesday morning, several University Council members requested a response from the Executive Board regarding the actions taken by the UT to cope with these rising costs. Should there be more energy conservation measures, and will the UT for example close down buildings?
Vice-president Machteld Roos stated that the energy crisis is top of mind for the Executive Board. According to her, a lot is dependant on behaviour. ‘We encourage people to take the same energy-saving actions at the UT as they would do at home. In addition, we are currently thinking of setting up an energy team, which will take practical measures and handle communication around the energy crisis.'
According to Roos, there is a scenario on the table to close floors or buildings that are not being used, partly due to the increase in remote working. 'But I want to stress that this is not about educational facilities.' Vinod Subramaniam, chair of the Executive Board, added that the situation at the UT cannot be compared to that of universities in cities like Amsterdam and Utrecht. 'They have old buildings in the city centre, where it can make more sense to close buildings completely. That is not the case for us.'
Hanneke Becht (Campus Coalition) wondered whether ventilation measures due to Covid clash with the need to save as much energy as possible. Especially in Zilverling, where ventilation is only possible by opening windows. According to Roos, one solution could be for employees to use other rooms on campus. 'But that would require a high degree of cooperation,' responded Herbert Wormeester, chair of the University Council. 'There are many practical aspects to consider, like exchanging keys for office spaces.'
Wormeester also wanted to know what the sharply rising costs mean for UT's budget and operations. In any case, the high energy costs shall not lead to a hiring freeze, Roos responded. She stated this to be a guarantee from the Executive Board. 'Faculties and service departments should, above all, continue with their plans to hire new staff, even if energy costs continue to rise in 2023 and 2024. This way, we as the Executive Board want to ensure stability to the faculties and service departments.'