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Berlin adopts energy saving plan

Licht aus in Berlin (4)

The Victory Column is no longer illuminated after dark.

Lower room temperatures, turning off hot water and lights: With a bundle of measures, the Berlin Senate wants to save electricity and gas in times of looming energy shortages.

The goal is to reduce public sector energy consumption by at least ten percent, as Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) and Economics Senator Stephan Schwarz (non-party) announced on Tuesday.

Room temperature in public buildings will be reduced

To achieve this, the room temperature in all public buildings will be reduced to the minimum level of 20 degrees Celsius prescribed by occupational health and safety law. In stairwells and corridors the thermometer should not exceed 16 degrees, in gymnasiums 17 degrees. At night and on weekends, the temperatures should be even lower, if possible. Exceptions to these rules are foreseen, for example, for police and fire brigade offices, for schools, day-care centres or for the protection of cultural collections.

Cooler temperatures in swimming pools

In addition, the Senate wants to largely switch off the warm water in public buildings and sports facilities. Shower and wash rooms in sports halls and swimming pools are exempt from this. The water temperature in swimming pools will be reduced to a maximum of 26 degrees. Tempered outdoor pools will be switched off and, if necessary, additional outdoor pools will continue to operate unheated until the end of the season.

Lighting of numerous buildings already switched off

The Senate had already started switching off the outdoor lighting and illumination of more than 100 prominent public buildings and structures three weeks ago. For safety reasons, however, this is not possible everywhere. A reduction of night-time lighting in and around sports facilities is also being considered. After consultation with the police, less lighting in parks could also be considered. The Senate wants to convert street lighting completely to LED as quickly as possible and, in particular, take gas lanterns off the grid.

Renovation programmes will be accelerated

In addition, electrical equipment that is not absolutely necessary for the service is to be switched off. Depending on the situation on site, this may also include air filters that were purchased because of the Corona pandemic. In general, renovation programmes for public buildings are to be accelerated. The goal is to sustainably reduce the country's energy consumption and to move away from fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas for heating.

"Berlin is getting serious about saving energy"

"The situation regarding gas supply in Germany and Europe is serious, and Berlin is getting serious about saving energy," said Senator Schwarz about the programme that has now been presented. It is balanced, he said. "We want to set a good example and forge a broad alliance in our city, with Berliners, but also with the capital's business community. We are all called upon to save. Every kilowatt of energy saved helps us through the winter and also relieves the burden on our finances.

Senate sets up interdepartmental task force

The savings programme will initially run until 31 March 2023, but it can be extended if necessary, said Schwarz. The economic administration, in cooperation with an interdepartmental task force, will monitor the implementation and achievement of the goals.

Agreement with industry planned

Companies in the capital are also to consume less energy. "We are currently preparing an agreement with Berlin's business community on savings targets that the business community will set for itself - analogous to what we are doing in the administration," said the Governing Mayor. "There is a great interest in the business community to contribute something here themselves," Giffey said. "We will not come to prohibitions or requirements." A voluntary commitment is the better alternative, she said. "At the beginning of September, we want to sign an agreement to this effect."

Christmas market lighting and Festival of Lights not affected

Not affected by the decision is the issue of Christmas lighting in Berlin. There is no public funding for this, said Schwarz. But that has nothing to do with the catalogue of measures, but is based on an agreement from 2020. And there are also no consequences for the Festival of Lights from the current energy-saving measures. "This is a purely private event".

Author: dpa/
Publication date: 16 August 2022
Last updated: 17 August 2022

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