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Reducing energy consumption in Germany and abroad

Protecting natural resources, including energy and resource consumption, is one of the top issues in our materiality matrix. For GIZ, dealing responsibly with the environment and natural resources is a key precondition for sustainable development. We want to do our bit, and see potential for further savings at GIZ. That is why we intend to reduce the energy we consume per employee in Germany by 10 per cent and outside Germany by 20 per cent by 2025. To promote sustainable development, we also intend to make more use of renewable energy. How we will do so, is set out in our management approach, which is explained in the section Environmental management at GIZ.

Distinctions between Germany and other countries

The total energy consumption and the energy mix varies widely between GIZ Germany and our operations abroad. In Germany, our energy consumption figures cover electricity and heating/cooling energy. Outside Germany, consumption of fuel for company vehicles and generators is also included. Compared with the previous year, we have seen a significant reduction in total energy consumption both in Germany and abroad. This results, in particular, from the fact that many of our staff have been working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. But sustainability measures we have taken, such as introducing LED lighting and making more efficient use of installed systems, are also having an impact.

Green electricity in Germany

Almost all the power used at GIZ locations in Germany is green electricity. In 2020, some 94 per cent of the electricity used was generated from renewables. The consumption of conventional electricity stems from the use of spaces shared with other tenants, such as reception areas and lifts in leased properties. Wherever possible and economically viable, we are gradually introducing LED lighting, as is the case in the events spaces at our Berlin Representation. We are also striving to make savings by ensuring our ventilation systems are efficient.

Challenging situations abroad

As a general rule we measure the actual consumption at all locations where GIZ staff work in our partner countries. However, we have found that it is often difficult to record consumption on the premises of individual project partners (such as ministries) in particular, because there are no separate meters.1

Since in most countries too little electric power is currently generated from renewables, we cannot achieve the same level of green power in our offices outside Germany as we do in Germany. GIZ is nevertheless aiming to install more photovoltaic systems to generate electricity, and is exploring the options for using this rather than conventional electric power. This target is part of the Sustainability Programme 2021–2025. In some partner countries, including Ghana and Pakistan (since 2018) and Mali (since 2012), individual country and project offices have been fitted out with photovoltaic systems. In the Uganda Country Office, efficient LED lighting was introduced in 2020.

1 For locations where we do not have the complete data, we use the country average to calculate consumption. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resultant limited access, we have had to use this method more frequently this year than in previous years.

Photo: View of a photovoltaic plant in Pakistan
Photovoltaic system in Pakistan (©: GIZ/Asif Farid)

Trends in energy consumption for heating and cooling vary widely

Energy consumption at GIZ’s locations in Germany mainly involves the use of heating/cooling energy and electricity. Heating and cooling energy alone accounts for just over half of consumption. About 19 per cent of this demand is met by renewable energy generated by geothermal and photovoltaic systems.

Our locations in Germany and abroad vary enormously in terms of heating/cooling energy consumption. In Germany, consumption per employee stood at 2,064 kWh, which marked a reduction of almost 20 per cent over the 2019 figure.2 Outside Germany, where heating is only available in a few countries or is partly based on electricity, the figure actually rose by 14 per cent in 2020 to 445 kWh per employee. The increase in energy consumption outside Germany is in part a reflection of more accurate data gathered.

2 We have moved away from taking three-year periods for purposes of comparison to a year-on-year comparison, since the COVID-19 pandemic makes it difficult to compare data over a longer period.

Fuel for company vehicles

The greatest difference between Germany and other countries is the direct energy consumption resulting from vehicle fuel and generators. These two factors play a secondary role at GIZ locations in Germany. Here, vehicle fuel accounted for 49,087 kWh in 2020, whereas the figure for outside Germany was 33,489,005 kWh. This is primarily the result of the significantly higher number of vehicles at locations abroad. While GIZ only had 11 motor vehicles in Germany at the end of 2020, the total for all other countries was almost 3,000. Of these, 491 were newly purchased in 2020 for use outside Germany. They include five electric cars.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a significant drop in fuel consumption for vehicles abroad, although some employees have switched from using public transport to private cars for hygiene reasons. To keep fuel consumption at a low level in future, carpooling strategies are being planned in individual countries. This entails grouping trips and routes together for people to share, making for a more efficient organisation.

More fuel used for generators

Compared to 2019, about 25 per cent more fuel was used to power generators outside Germany in 2020, although remote working was more widespread. In addition to the improved quality of data, this can probably be explained by the worsening fragility in some of our partner countries, and the resultant deterioration of infrastructure, which has made the use of emergency generators necessary. We aim to counter this rise by installing more battery-buffered photovoltaic systems.

Energy consumption broken down by heating/cooling energy, electricity, generators and fuel for company vehicles

Figure: Distribution of energy consumption among heating/cooling energy, electricity, generators and fuels for company vehicles at home and abroad
Total energy consumption      
Total energy consumption in kWh24,526,07423,961,91922,213,20868,060,20480,277,40766,717,089
Total energy consumption per employee in kWh5,3094,3593,6923,9384,4043,518
Total electricity consumption in kWh10,022,71210,036,3899,793,71418,550,54119,717,82815,778,096
Total electricity consumption per employee in kWh2,1701,8261,6281,0731,082832
Share of green electricity93.3%93.3%93.5%Data not collected in CSH
Heating/cooling energy      
Total heating/cooling energy in kWh14,503,36213,925,53012,419,4944,290,3897,083,1438,430,613
Total heating/cooling energy per employee in kWh3,1392,5332,064248389445
Share of renewable heating energy in %10%12%20%Data not collected in CSH
Fuel for company vehicles and generators      
Total energy consumption from motor vehicle fuel in kWh163,63594,82649,08739,670,80846,036,75933,489,005
Total energy consumption from motor vehicle fuel per employee in kWh371882,2952,5261,766
Total energy consumption from generators in kWh5,4985,49824,3435,548,4677,439,6779,019,375
Total energy consumption from generators per employee in kWh114321408476

Information on the following sustainability standards can be found on this page:
GRI standard 302