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Sustainability at HZB

We take responsibility in our daily work for our ecological footprint. This is part of our mission.

With its mission and Code of Conduct, HZB has set clear goals to conduct sustainable research, to be a responsible player and to protect natural resources. We see sustainability as a constantly evolving process.

Sustainability places equal importance on ecological, economic and social factors, that influence one another and, together, make sustainable development possible. Our sustainability is inspired by the LeNa guidelines.

Sustainability at HZB: Word Cloud

HZB’s goal: greenhouse gas neutrality by 2035

HZB has set the goal of becoming greenhouse gas neutral by 2035 with the approval of the HZB supervisory board. The next step is to work out what aspects are to be included in the calculation of the total greenhouse gas emissions.

At the same time, a medium- to long-term renovation concept will be drawn up as part of campus development. HZB has already made important changes in this direction over recent years: we use green electricity, are reducing business flights and offset unavoidable air travel.

Environment Team, Energy Management, DGSA, Waste Separation, Reusable Cups Canteen LMC, Campus Design

Examples for the topic of ecology at HZB

Driving forces: the Environment Team and the Environment Workgroup

Many employees are personally dedicated to combatting climate change, and bring this strong personal dedication into HZB. At the end of 2018, for example, around 20 employees formed an Environment Team. This team meets every three months, and has since grown to nearly 50 members. The Environment Team discusses suggestions on how to improve the eco-balance of HZB. These suggestions are then taken up by the Environment Workgroup, which evaluates them and presents them to Management.

HZB uses 100% green electricity

Because it operates large-scale technical facilities and laboratories, HZB consumes a large amount of electricity. Since the beginning of 2020, HZB has been powered exclusively from renewable sources. Through this conversion, approx. 17,400 tons of CO2 can be reduced annually (related to the year 2018). While that is good in itself, HZB is also looking for ways to lower its energy requirements. This is a priority topic, for example, in developing the concept for the successor synchrotron source BESSY III.

Goal: up to 75% fewer business flights

Air trips are especially harmful for the environment, and have an enormous impact on the CO2 balance of HZB. Upon the suggestion of the Environment Team, the HZB Management has therefore set an ambitious goal: “In the post-COVID-19 times, HZB will continue to pursue the strategic goal of keeping the number of business miles low and even bringing them down to below the average for 2015–2019, by at least 25% for European and intercontinental flights, and by at least 75% for domestic flights per year.”

Ecological design of the HZB campuses

HZB plans to combat the decline of insect populations and to make a positive contribution towards biodiversity by transforming Adlershof and Wannsee into natural, ecological campuses. Since 2019, for example, sheep and goats have been grazing the large meadow spaces in Wannsee, greatly reducing the need for mowing. Leaf vacs are forbidden as a rule, and leaf blowers are only allowed on asphalt and concrete areas. HZB has commissioned a study for the nature-compatible redesign of its Adlershof campus. The employees were included in the voting process for the individual measures.

Sustainable construction

For the LE building in Wannsee, HZB was awarded the silver medal of the Bewertungssystem für nachhaltiges Bauen, BNB (assessment system for sustainable construction). This standard is also to be taken into account in further HZB building projects.

Charging stations for electric vehicles

In 2020, HZB installed new charging columns for electric vehicles at both of its locations. These are for the vehicles in HZB’s fleet as well as for employees’ private electric cars.

Carpooling pinboard and support of public tranport tickets

HZB provides an electronic pinboard in the Intranet for carpooling opportunities, and offers a discounted company ticket for public transport.

Certification as a bicycle-friendly employer

Since February 2024, HZB has been certified as a bicycle-friendly employer and thus actively promotes cycling among its employees.


Fair trade coffee in the Wannsee canteen

Since 2020, the canteen team in Wannsee offers a diverse range of organic and fair trade coffee products.

Support for overarching initiatives

HZB is actively involved in the Arbeitskreis „Forum Nachhaltigkeit“ of the Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft and participates in events such as the Helmholtz Sustainability Summit. Furthermore, many scientists are privately engaged in the #ScientistsforFuture movement or taking an active role in science communication.

The two pillars alongside ecology are economics (which for us is research) and social affairs.

Strategic Employee Devt., Occupational Health Mangement, Work-Life Certificate, Office for Work and Life, HZB Integration Management, Health and Safety, Flexible Hours Teleworking Part-Time

Examples for the topic of social affairs at HZB

Good Scientific Practice, German Federal PCGK, Future- Oriented Research, Cooperation, Communication, POF, Future Projects, Compliant Whistleblower System

Examples for the topic of economics/research at HZB

Diversity certificate

HZB is the first non-university research institute that passed the Diversity Audit of the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft (Donors' association for the promotion of humanities and sciences in Germany). In Noverber 2020, the HZB was awarded the diversity certificate.