Sustainability at IZT in 2013

This year’s annual report presents the environmental and social sustainability performance of IZT for the first time, along with its economic performance data. This work was inspired by the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW), which published its first sustainability report already in 2011.


Total Energy Consumption

Figure: Final energy consumption
Figure: Final energy consumption

Dr. Robert Gaßner, environmental officer at IZT since 1993, has sought to ensure that environmental aspects in different areas of the institute – for example in purchasing and building management – have been taken into consideration over the years.

For 2013, total energy consumption at IZT remained at about the same level as during the two previous years (see figure). Gas used for heating purposes corresponded to about 85 percent, and fluctuations in consumption were mainly due to changes in weather conditions during these years.

As the institute's heating usage has been optimized by its environmental officer for years, there is little savings potential in this area. Electricity corresponds to approximately 15 percent of the institute's total energy consumption, and its use has remained relatively constant over the past three years. Savings potential lies primarily in successive new acquisitions of more energy-efficient IT equipment.

The consumption of green electricity in IZT has a long-standing tradition. In 2013, purchased electricity consisted of 90 percent hydropower and 10 percent wind power, which significantly contributed to the institute's satisfying CO2 emission levels (see figure).

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Business travel

Figure: Business travel
Figure: Business travel

The number of traveled kilometers in 2013 – both total as well as per employee – was lower than in the previous year. Considering the different means of transport, in 2013 fewer kilometers were traveled by airplane and more kilometers by train than in the previous year. In particular, air travel of distances over 8,000 km rarely occurred in 2013. This positive development is largely due to the fact that less international and more national projects were carried out. Also, the increased – but still low – number of car trips in 2013 is due to the specific travel needs of projects that are mainly in rural regions of Germany.

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CO2 Emissions

Figure: CO2 emissions
Figure: CO2 emissions

The CO2 emission levels in 2013 were slightly below those of the previous year, which had already exhibited a significant reduction when compared to 2011. The greatest source of CO2 emissions at IZT is air travel, followed by gas consumption for heating purposes. Changes in those two areas did, however, contribute to the decreasing CO2 emissions observed in the past few years. Emissions due to air travel were significantly lower in 2013 than in 2012, even though they still account for over half of total emissions. CO2 generated by gas consumption represented the largest share of total emissions in 2013 when compared to previous years, corresponding to almost one-third of all emissions.

Whether and how IZT is going to further improve its CO2 footprint will also affect the institute’s economic and social conditions. Increasing or decreasing air travel is likely to be dependent on the volume of international projects that may be acquired in the future. Additionally, substituting air travel for train travel will have a direct impact on employees’ working conditions (longer duration of trips, additional overnight stays). A position on these issues will be discussed in the sustainability strategy for IZT, to be implemented in 2014.



Photo: Lea Pollacek
Photo: Lea Pollacek


The social dimension of sustainability at IZT is analyzed by considering employee participation and community. The following examples illustrate the attractiveness of IZT for its employees, including the many students, interns and volunteers ("BFDler").


  • Since 2012 there has been an employee association at the institute that currently holds 15 percent of the shares.
  • Founded in 2011, IZT’s Works Council has turned into a significant partner of the Management Board in matters related to personnel and salary policy.
  • In addition, the staff is represented by two elected members on the Supervisory Board of IZT.
  • Six times per year, a group of selected employees meets the two managing directors to discuss key issues. This group forms the IZT Advisory Council, which has existed since 2003.


  • Relaxed conversations with colleagues during lunch breaks are important to many in the team, such as at our collectively prepared meal every Tuesday.
  • Table tennis games in the institute's library – digitization has created new space for us! – boost energy.

Julia Onodera Koestner has assembled, prepared and evaluated the sustainability data presented in this report. She has been working at IZT since 2013, having studied in the international Master's program in Environmental and Resource Management at the Technological University of Cottbus.

We would be pleased to receive your questions and suggestions concerning the Sustainability Report. For that, please contact Lydia Illge, Sustainability Officer at IZT: or e-mail: l.illge(at)

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