DESY publishes its first sustainability report

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DESY’s first sustainability report, entitled “Providing impulses. Doing sustainable research”, has just been published. In addition to presenting reliable figures and concrete activities, intermediate goals and intelligent ideas, the 36-page document includes inspiring stories about the people on the research campus who are behind the principal projects and sustainable strategies. The reporting period is 2019 to 2021. The message: DESY is on the right track.

The starting position should not be played down: “Research using large instruments at DESY consumes large amounts of energy and other resources, we are aware of that,” says DESY Director Helmut Dosch. “This is why we have set ourselves the goal of successively reducing the carbon footprint of our accelerator facilities’ operations.” Raising awareness and acting together responsibly: “We also view sustainability as being a mission on behalf of society, as well as an opportunity in the international world of science,” reiterates Dosch. “Our commitment to sustainability is rooted in our mission, our guiding principles and in our statutes. Sustainability is an irrevocable part of our strategy for the future, which we are already implementing today.”

In practical terms, this means that as of March 2019 DESY has had an interdivisional department for sustainability. Since then, all initiatives and measures have been systematically recorded, potential savings have been identified and resource-efficient alternatives have been developed. The first DESY Sustainability Report provides an overview. “We are reporting on the years 2019 to 2021,” says Denise Völker, Head of the Interdivisional Department for Sustainability. “During this time, we have decided to switch to green electricity and we have adapted our business travel policies; that alone is saving more than 40 000 tonnes of CO2.”

Looking back, though, the biggest success has been a very promising project for the future: the use of waste heat. “We are already using the waste heat from the helium liquefaction, which is necessary to cool the accelerators, for space heating; that covers a third of our heating requirements on the Hamburg campus. This has allowed us to reduce our CO2 footprint during the reporting period and saved around 200 000 euros annually in energy costs,” explains sustainability manager Völker. An interim success on the way to the big goal: “Our report states that we intend to use additional sources of waste heat in the future, for example from the water used to cool the accelerator magnets. The potential is huge.” At the end of November, the Helmholtz Association approved funding of 8.2 million euros for energy recycling at both DESY sites, in Hamburg and Zeuthen. “This means we can immediately start implementing the plans,” Völker is happy to report.

“We have already revised our approaches and made adjustments to facilitate sustainable research,” says Helmut Dosch. “This is also a credit to many highly motivated DESY employees, who are actively and creatively working on these developments.” And Denise Völker adds: “This sustainability report also seeks to inspire people – and encourage them to join forces to bring about even more sustainable change at DESY.”

This article was first published on 12 December by DESY.

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