University Energy Plan

The first-ever University Energy Plan in the history of Alma Mater takes as its starting point the multiple dimensions that characterise us as a major public institution and a keeper of knowledge and values. Firstly, our sense of social responsibility, which urges us not only to care for the common good in our everyday life, but also to set an example for the outside world and contribute to guiding collective behaviour through our actions. Secondly, our technical and scientific knowledge, which allows us to develop and implement unprecedented solutions for unprecedented problems. Thirdly, our duty to think of Alma Mater – whose centuries-old history precedes us and will follow us – in a long-term perspective that goes far beyond a single period of time or governance.     

Energy is one of the most challenging and urgent issues facing humanity today. Failing to acknowledge this, and to act accordingly, would be scientifically short-sighted and ethically blameworthy. The climate crisis, pollution, environmental degradation, biodiversity loss, as well as inequalities and wars, are the direct or indirect consequence of our energy behaviour.

Teaching, research and professional activities at Alma Mater take place over an area of more than one million square metres. The energy we need to support them is constantly expanding in absolute terms, an indirect hint to the University of Bologna’s success and growth. However, this requires us to become more knowledgeable, aware and responsible of energy management, in order to monitor and contain not only costs, but also climate-altering emissions.

The University Energy Plan outlines the strategies for promoting efficient energy use at Alma Mater and for improving the social, economic and environmental sustainability of our activities. In the document, our community will find a description of the current situation, which shows that the University is still dependent on fossil fuels (and especially natural gas), thermal energy from urban heating networks and electricity from the grid, with a limited photovoltaic self-generation capacity (3% in 2022).

Starting from the current situation, the Energy Plan presents a series of scenarios that anticipate the evolution of energy consumption in the short and medium term and identify the direction our University should take in the future to reduce gas emissions, increase renewable energy use and improve energy efficiency.

In accordance with the EU Green Deal and the “Fit for 55%” package, the University Energy Plan sets out the actions we aim to take in the near future. These include the installation of new photovoltaic power systems to self-generate around 17% of our electricity needs by 2030, the upgrading of the lighting systems in the buildings to make them more efficient, a remote control system for all existing heating installations, and the replacement of our last diesel- and fuel oil-powered heating systems.

Finally, in pursuing a specific energy efficiency improvement policy in the short and medium term, the Energy Plan aims to create new synergies with local public bodies and engage private actors in the co-funding of projects. In this way, the University seeks to present itself on the local scene as an ‘open lab’ to try out new systems, as well as to raise awareness of energy and environmental issues.

However, for the Energy Plan to be effective, these technical measures will need strong support from the University community as a whole. Teachers, professional staff and students should share the common goal of tackling energy waste by using spaces, equipment and machinery more responsibly, in an ongoing effort to identify issues and call for solutions and improvements.

This is what we are called upon to do today as members of a forward-thinking and progressive community, capable of deciding about our own future and aware that the decisions we make today will have an impact on the well-being of the new generations.