Climate protection is not just a question of efficient technology – there is also huge energy saving potential in areas related to behaviour and habits, and in terms of operational organisation. Doors and windows left open in winter; ventilators left permanently on; illuminated and over air-conditioned rooms; PCs, printers, and copiers that are permanently left on, these are all too common, even at a university. As a response to this, Freie Universität's executive committee introduced the energy saver incentive scheme in 2007. This gives the individual departments a direct financial incentive to implement to above-mentioned organisational and behaviour-related energy saving potential.
The incentive model works according to the following rules: a department will receive an annual premium from central funds, when the energy consumption in the relevant areas drops below a set energy consumption level (the so-called baseline). The premiums are set at 50 % of the targeted annual cost reductions. However, going above the baseline, i.e. an increase in electricity and heat demands, must be met 100% by the department itself.
Since 2000, the incentive system has made a significant contribution to a reduction in energy consumption, around 25 % (approx. 42 million kilowatt-hours). All university departments received financial rewards from 2008–2012, and have thus reduced their energy consumption in comparison to the reference year. The investment of the awarded premiums in further energy efficient measures by a number of the departments can also be seen as a positive effect – for example buying energy saving fridges or monitors.