Fraunhofer climate strategy

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Fraunhofer’s research and innovations contribute to the transformation towards a sustainable and climate-neutral industry and society. This includes taking responsibility for our own greenhouse gas emissions. Our climate strategy sets out clear reduction targets. The path to get there involves specific concepts, which we often implement using technologies developed right here at Fraunhofer.


Die Fraunhofer-Klimastrategie umfasst Maßnahmenbündel in 5 Handlungsfeldern: Organisationsentwicklung und Strategie, Kommunikation und Partizipation, Gebäude und Infrastruktur, Energie, Mobilität
The Fraunhofer climate strategy includes bundles of measures in 5 fields of action.

The Fraunhofer climate strategy

Measuring greenhouse gases − preventing emissions − implementing reduction measures

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft’s climate strategy structurally follows the recommendations of the UN Global Compact on the development of climate management practices and processes. In keeping with this approach, researchers from multiple institutes came together in 2020 to calculate the greenhouse gas footprint of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft as a whole according to the standard set by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (GHG Protocol) for the first time.

The specialists used the results to craft an extensive and detailed action plan for reducing emissions and used realistic but ambitious assumptions to model a reduction path. The model is regularly updated as new scientific and research findings emerge. Plans call for the calculation to be performed again every two years, with further factors being added in stages according to the availability of data.


Climate neutrality is a core goal

Based on the footprint and reduction path, the executive board of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft has adopted climate targets. Plans call for reducing emissions within our own organization by 55% by the year 2030 and neutralizing remaining emissions through effective greenhouse gas sinks as we implement our climate action concepts. The objective is to operate Fraunhofer on a climate-neutral basis by 2045. To reach this ambitious target, Fraunhofer has incorporated climate action into its structure. As part of this, every Fraunhofer institute has designated one or more persons to act as officers for climate neutrality and sustainability. Their job is to forge ahead with reducing the emissions of their specific institutes. The officers work together closely to implement projects aimed at reducing carbon emissions and enhancing energy efficiency. They also work with researchers from the areas of energy and climate action to refine and advance the climate strategy. Officers are supported in these actions by the central Climate Management department, which was established specifically to implement the climate strategy.


Climate action concepts support the institutes with implementation

Climate action concepts represent another core element of the Fraunhofer climate strategy. In these concepts, internal Fraunhofer experts develop aids and tools to help institutes lower their carbon emissions and implement energy efficiency measures. There is a wide range of projects across five action fields:

  1. Organizational development & strategy
  2. Communication & participation
  3. Building & infrastructure
  4. Energy
  5. Mobility
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© Fraunhofer IEG
High yield, small surface area: The GeoStar system developed by Fraunhofer IEG taps into geothermal heat sources through probes that span out at an angle in the shape of a star.
Elektroautos an der Ladesäule.
© Fraunhofer IAO
Throughout Germany, there are already about 500 charging points in Fraunhofer’s Charging at Work (LamA) project.

Examples include enhancing the ecological quality of purchased electricity, introducing energy management systems, and reducing energy consumption in complex research infrastructures such as cleanrooms. The development of transformation concepts that pave the way for climate-neutral operation of buildings and other properties forms part of this. Another extensive project is the construction of geothermal facilities for individual institutes or entire campuses and supplying them with renewable heat. This is where the GEOSTAR geothermal probe field developed by Fraunhofer IEG comes into play. It makes it possible to tap into near-surface  geothermal energy, even in small areas.

Other examples of specific measures include the support program for installing solar panels and the internal Fraunhofer charging infrastructure for electric vehicles (Charging at Work – LamA).

Another forward-looking project is currently under way at Fraunhofer UMSICHT, advancing the development of new production methods for biocar as a carbon sink.

Energy efficiency and climate action require more than just innovative technologies. They also call for innovative financing tools. To ensure that funds are always available for implementation of energy efficiency measures, Fraunhofer has launched a program called Fraunhofer.Energie.Effizient. It is based on the principle of “intracting.” In this approach, start-up funding is used to implement initial energy efficiency measures and — based on the funds saved in this way – safeguard the financing of further measures in the long term. This is modeled on a project at the University of Kassel focusing on intracting at higher education institutions.

Let’s talk climate

Communication about the energy transition and climate action is complex, cutting across very different segments of society and requiring the collaboration of many different disciplines. Successful discussion and sharing of knowledge also require new ideas in communication. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft has created a central platform in ENIQ (Energy Intelligence), which represents Fraunhofer energy research in Berlin. People from industry, business, academia, government, and society can connect with each other during in-person and online events there, helping to shape the energy transition and climate action and making a sustainable future worth living in possible.