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Research project on financing energy-saving measures at universities - Uni Kassel pilot university

"Intracting" is a financing concept in which energy cost savings following energy improvements to buildings are reinvested in new energy-saving measures. The research project IntrHo investigates the implementation of this concept at universities and tests the application of the intracting approach at the University of Kassel.

Image: University of Kassel

Invest in energy-saving measures and let this investment pay for itself after some time: In times of tight university budgets and high targets for reducing energy consumption, this is an attractive idea. Energy improvements to buildings can save money, which in turn can be reinvested in new energy-saving measures. While this process, known as "intracting," is already being tested and used in some German cities, municipalities and communities, it has not yet been applied in the university sector. This could soon change. The IntrHo research project has now been initiated at the University of Kassel's Department of Technical Building Equipment, headed by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Jens Knissel, with the aim of systematically developing a feasible intracting process for universities. The departments of solar and systems engineering and building physics at the University of Kassel are scientifically involved in the project.

"The aim of IntrHo," says Knissel, "is to develop and test an application-oriented, transferable financing concept for energy-saving measures at universities." The idea, he said, is to enable the respective university's internal energy management to continuously increase the efficiency of its university buildings and tap existing energy-saving potential in the long term.

The implementation of IntrHo is divided into several work packages: First, it will be analyzed whether and, if so, in what form the idea of intracting can be applied at universities and colleges. For this purpose, the previous experiences that municipalities have made with intracting will be compiled and, based on this, sensible forms of design for universities will be identified and implemented in an exemplary manner.

Questions that typically arise when applying intracting at universities will be answered: Start-up financing, quantification of energy savings, calculation of profitability, possibilities for user motivation and cooperation, but also administrative and budgetary issues. A calculation tool will be developed to calculate and visualize the development of energy and CO2 savings over time as well as the account balance of the intracting cost center in scenario simulations. This makes it possible to optimize the implementation model in the concept phase and evaluate it in the application phase.

Another important component is communication: the results are made known through presentations, articles and a symposium at the end of the project. The project results are to be summarized and prepared for practical use in a guide entitled "Intracting at Universities".

The project will run for five years and is scheduled to be completed in fall 2020. The German Federal Ministry of Economics is funding IntrHo with around 630,000 euros.


Pilot university at Kassel University invests in energy saving using new model

Unlike contracting, intracting does not involve an external service provider. Instead, the role is played by an internal organizational unit at the university. This is where the University of Kassel comes into play as a pilot university: it will be implementing energy-saving measures over the next few years using the intracting method. To this end, it has set up a special budget item amounting to 250,000 euros, which it intends to use to finance energy-saving measures in the coming years. The first measures include the conversion of spotlights in some laboratories and halls to LED lights and the integration of waste heat from chillers to generate domestic hot water.

The energy costs saved will then be credited to the new budget item, which will be used to finance new measures in the future. The start-up financing can also be amortized over time: After about five years, it is expected that the energy costs saved will cover the personnel and investment costs and that the activities will pay for themselves. From then on, Knissel says, a contribution can also be made to relieving the general university budget. 

Prof. Knissel's research group will accompany and evaluate this pilot phase scientifically. Even though the university's energy-saving measures and the scientific project IntrHo are formally two separate projects, the two projects are to be closely interlinked. In this way, science can benefit from practice and practice from science.


Image of Prof. Dr.-Ing Jens Knissel (Photo: Sonja Rode) at :




Prof. Dr.-Ing Jens Knissel

Department: Architecture, Urban Planning, Landscape Planning

Field: Technical Building Equipment

Tel. 0561/804-7463

E-Mail: knissel[at]uni-kassel[dot]de



Klaus Sausmikat

Head of Department: Building, Technology, Real Estate

Tel. 0561/804 2259

E-mail: sausmikat[at]uni-kassel[dot]de