Fraunhofer UMSICHT: Sustainable research for sustainable development

For a quarter of a century, Fraunhofer UMSICHT in Oberhausen has stood for research on the transformation of the energy and raw materials systems. Here, processes are improved and procedures and materials are developed, in short: Fraunhofer UMSICHT creates the necessary innovations for sustainable development and transfers these into society. Therefore, it is only logical that this should be implemented as sustainably as possible.

The topic of sustainability is firmly anchored in the Fraunhofer UMSICHT organisation. In the guidelines, a clear objective is declared: "The Institute advances sustainable, environmentally friendly technologies and environmentally-aware behaviour in order to improve the quality of living for society as a whole". Since 2008, sustainability reports have been published on a regular basis and this commitment to sustainability is communicated to the public, for example in relation to the German Sustainability Code or the Utopia Changemaker Manifest.

Climate protection objective:

  • switch to 100 per cent green electricity
  • use of LED

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Photo: Fraunhofer UMSICHT

Fraunhofer UMSICHT develops application-oriented biobased plastics and converts them into products. They are produced without using oil or natural gas and in domestic value chains, so they secure jobs. As a national information centre, Fraunhofer UMSICHT provides comprehensibly prepared information on this subject 

Not only "what" but also "how"

Of course, Fraunhofer UMSICHT makes its greatest contribution to climate protection through the development of technical innovations that could save a significant amount of CO2 when used. In the case of projects, right from the beginning efforts are made to assess all sustainability effects, from workplace effects to encroachment on the landscape.

The way in which this is done makes the focus of the organisation credible and contributes to climate protection. Thus, "Green IT" is already being used: Traditional PCs have been replaced with economical Thin Clients and the leasing periods for monitors and PCs have been extended from three years to five years.

The consumption of energy, water and paper per head has been reduced in the last few years through sensitive handling of resources. Those responsible for sustainability at UMSICHT inform their colleagues through simple behaviour tips, info days, posters and flyers.

Increasingly, the organisation's long-term planning also takes aspects of sustainability into consideration. For example, the sustainability working group is also involved in planning.

Education for sustainability

In addition to research and development work, Fraunhofer UMSICHT has been active in the field of academic further education for many years. Since 2000, the institute together with the distance-learning university in Hagen (FernUniversität in Hagen) have been offering an interdisciplinary distance course in environmental sciences (infernum). The multi-award-winning master's degree course is regarded as a model project for future-oriented third-level education in the area of sustainability. In addition, it is involved in public discourse and stakeholders are also listened to and involved by Fraunhofer UMSICHT.

New targets for climate protection

In 2016, it will be possible to switch electricity suppliers, and Fraunhofer UMSICHT will be taking this opportunity to switch to green electricity. Thus, approximately 2,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (CDE) will be avoided. The organisation is also striving to collect information on specific energy consumption in greater detail in order to identify further mitigation potentials in consumption. In the case of new construction measures, LED lights are to be used. Furthermore, the institute is examining whether a conversion to LEDs is possible in existing buildings.

The results of these activities are documented in the Sustainability Report. The next report will be published in the second half of 2016.

Fraunhofer UMSICHT

"Research must contribute to the future so as to ensure that the earth remains habitable for present and future generations."

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Eckhard Weidner, Head of Institute