Since 2004, energy and environmental management at Freie Universität Berlin are based on the international environmental management system ISO 14001.

In 2007, Freie Universität launched an incentive system to encourage local energy-saving efforts. The bonus system gives the departments financial incentives to implement their own energy saving measures. A department receives an annual bonus from the university’s budget if the energy consumed in the department’s buildings falls below the agreed baseline. The bonus amounts to 50% of the annual cost reductions. If the department exceeds the baseline, it has to bear 100% of the additional costs.

In May 2008, the first 146 kW solar plant was installed on the roof of the physics building. At that time, it was one of the ten largest solar plants in Berlin. Since then, eight additional photovoltaic plants have been commissioned, including one initiated and financed by the student initiative, UniSolar. The roofs are rented to external solar investors.
The solar plants currently have an overall capacity of 675 kilowatts, which can generate about 600,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of solar energy annually. About 350 tons of CO2 are prevented from entering the atmosphere every year due to this initiative.

In 2010, the university developed a Green IT action program aimed at optimising all IT related aspects of energy consumption. The most important measures include procurement improvements, accelerated centralisation and virtualisation of servers, and an overall implementation of demand-driven computer and server operations. Moreover, special attention will not only be given to the transparency and energy-efficient control of server operations but also to the training and sensitisation of staff.

In February 2013, Freie Universität installed two block heat and power plants. One plant, with two 139 kW modules, is located in Düppel, where the veterinary medicine facilities are clustered. The other one, with a net output of 237 kW, is in Lankwitz, at the earth sciences site. Each location is supplied by two local heating systems based on natural gas.
Block heat and power plants produce electricity and heat simultaneously, and are among the most efficient types of power plants. These 2 plants generate a total of 510 kilowatts net output of electricity and 804 kilowatts of heating. If operated as planned, the heat-operated cogeneration plants will produce about 3.3 million kWh of electricity in total. About 95 percent of this is used directly at the two locations. The Engineering and Utilities Division of Freie Universität expects savings in primary energy of about 23 percent. This should reduce the university’s carbon dioxide emissions by 1,300 tons per year. The payback period for both plants will take less than four years.
The Engineering and Utilities Division of Freie Universität is responsible for operating the cogeneration plants.

Freie Universität was also the first higher education institution in the German capital to sign a climate protection agreement with the state of Berlin in 2011. Read more here