Are the students from Rennes going to spend the winter at home? If nothing is yet recorded, the announcement of the University of Strasbourg has far from gone unnoticed in the Breton capital. To save energy, the Alsatian campus has decided to extend the Christmas holidays by one week. The start of the school year will therefore take place on January 9, 2023 instead of January 2 as initially planned. Another major upheaval at “Unistra”, students and teachers will resume distance learning for a week after the February holidays.
“We have to make efforts together and change habits for a long time,” explained Michel Deneken, president of the University of Strasbourg in a video. “With this energy crisis, these solutions are ways to reduce our energy consumption by 10% while preserving the functioning of the university”.
283% increase on the energy bill
In Rennes, the faculties face the same observation. As for Rennes 1 University, the most pessimistic scenario causes the fluid bill to jump from 4.8 million euros to 18.5 million euros between 2021 and 2023. “It’s simply dizzying”, reacts Ludovic Babin-Touba, vice-president in charge of finance. “A 283% possible increase in the energy bill in 2023 is considerable for a university like ours, which is characterized by a strong research balance and therefore has particularly energy-intensive equipment”.
To lower the score, all options are considered… including the use of distance learning over specific periods as in Strasbourg. “We do not rule out any leads even if it is not the optimal solution”, concedes Ludovic Babin-Touba. “What is certain is that we will have to put in place measures while managing to maintain our research activity and our training activity”.
Strong decisions by October 10
Asked about the extent of these measures, the vice-president in charge of finance at Rennes 1 anticipates strong choices. “We will probably have to make decisions that will allow the closure of an entire building. Turning the heat down one degree will not be enough. We still have a lot of energy sieves on campus.”
To achieve the announced objective of a 10% reduction in energy consumption, solutions will have to be put in place quickly. This week, Rennes 1 University launched a vast collective reflection to put all staff at the heart of the debates. More than 200 proposals have already been collected by management. A crisis unit which meets on a weekly basis has been set up and a definitive action plan should be put in place by October 10.
Rennes 2 will not close a building
On the side of Rennes 2 University, if the increases in energy prices are also starting to weigh heavily on the budget (+148% increase planned for 2023), the responses provided to deal with them are quite different from its neighbor. No question of changing the dates of school holidays, for example.
“The decision taken by the University of Strasbourg is absolutely irrelevant for us”, breathes Myriam Tollemer, director of cabinet of Rennes 2. “In Alsace, I imagine that the winter will undoubtedly be harsher than in Brittany, so that leads to different solutions. For our part, we will rather try to improve our occupancy strategy for premises which already have one of the best occupancy rates in France”.
Beyond the work carried out on the energy performance of buildings and the replacement of lighting with models that consume less electricity, the university should above all play on the temperature of buildings and the hourly amplitudes of heating operation. A detailed action plan will be communicated shortly.