On a late Friday afternoon, Bo Carlsen, Head of Section at Campus Service, crawls on all fours under desks and along the walls in his workplace in Building 409 on DTU Lyngby Campus. He pulls plugs out of all the sockets he can reach, in offices, printer rooms, and meeting rooms. He disconnects all electronic devices—computers, monitors, desk lights—except for what’s clearly marked with Post-it notes.
On Monday morning, when Bo returns to work, he looks up the effect of switching off the equipment. He uses a program called Energy Dashboard, which is available to all University staff and students and shows the electricity consumption on campus.
Bo Carlsen, who works with data and digitalization in connection with operating and developing DTU’s campuses, is conducting an experiment. He wants to find out how much his department can save in electricity by turning off electricity-intensive equipment that employees don’t use on weekends.
He can see from the bar charts that the experiment has reduced energy consumption by 43 per cent over the weekend. The result surprises him. A quick calculation shows that if the experiment is repeated every weekend for a year, DTU can save seven per cent of the building’s total electricity consumption.
Clear agreements and guidelines
The following week, at the same time and place, Bo Carlsen repeats the experiment, but this time he also disconnects all electrical panels in the technical rooms so the ceiling lights remain switched off throughout the building.
This time, the experiment fails. Partly because an entire department shows up for work on Saturday, plug in their computers and use the kitchen in their lunch breaks. And partly because the cleaners who arrive early on Monday morning need light to work.
The failed experiment shows Bo Carlsen that if DTU is to achieve the goal of reducing its electricity consumption by approximately 10 per cent by promoting good energy habits, there must be clear agreements and guidelines on who turns off the equipment when it isn’t being used—and who should turn it on again when it’s needed.
As a technical university, DTU has a very large energy consumption for laboratories and equipment. Due to the rising energy prices, DTU’s energy costs in 2022 are DKK 100 million higher than the budget. Therefore, the University has launched many centralized energy-saving initiatives, but all employees and students at the individual departments, centres, and offices can also contribute to reducing consumption by using energy wisely.