“Take the stairs more often” – this is how Deutsche Bahn wants to save electricity

So far, the employees at the Deutsche Bahn headquarters have been able to see from the window that their employer is not currently one of the role models when it comes to saving energy: Although the DB employees are currently working in temporary offices right next to the Berlin headquarters, the high-rise building has always been good illuminated.

“Take the stairs more often” – this is how Deutsche Bahn wants to save electricity

So far, the employees at the Deutsche Bahn headquarters have been able to see from the window that their employer is not currently one of the role models when it comes to saving energy: Although the DB employees are currently working in temporary offices right next to the Berlin headquarters, the high-rise building has always been good illuminated. Not only did the railway logo shine at the top in the typical DB red, the white LED lamps in the windows also shone and gave the impression that work was being done here day and night.

But the state-owned company is now not only vowing improvements in the lighting of its own high-rise tower, the railways now also want to motivate their own employees to help save electricity. The board of directors promises around 200,000 employees an energy saving bonus of 100 euros. They should save electricity wherever possible: "All the small and large levers" should be set in motion by the colleagues, says HR Director Martin Seiler. "It's deliberately not about theoretical ideas about what you could do, but about concrete action."

As a reward, there is a possible increase in the premium by a smooth 50 euros to up to 150 euros. The board of directors is to decide in December whether the appeal has led to "tangible" success and whether the bonus will be increased. There is no measurable target. Only so much: The railway wants to save at least the money that it spends on the bonus through the energy saved. With 200,000 employees, that is at least 20 million euros.

"We don't want to run after every electricity meter," said Seiler. "But I'm sure that we'll see a real boost." For him, it's all about small changes in everyday life: turning off the lights when it's bright enough, shutting down the computer when you finish work, the HR director even suggests , one should take the stairs more often instead of the elevator. However, all of this is primarily aimed at the employees in administration, who used to sit in the offices, which were also lit at night.

But they only make up the smallest part of the railway's energy consumption. The group is considered the largest private electricity consumer in Germany. DB alone needs ten terawatt hours of traction power per year.

Although the group likes to emphasize that traveling by train is particularly green, DB has not only used green electricity to date. According to the company, energy from renewable sources already accounts for 62.4 percent, but more than ten percent of the traction current mix still comes from nuclear energy, and 6.3 percent is generated by burning natural gas. 13.9 percent also comes from hard coal and 6.4 percent from lignite. By 2038, all electricity consumption should be switched to renewable energies.

So gas could certainly still be saved if the electricity consumption of the railway were to fall significantly. However, that shouldn't be easy, because the trains, which are often overcrowded and late anyway, shouldn't stop to save energy. And there are also limits to the savings efforts in many buildings: "In train stations, trains and at the workplaces, a minimum brightness is prescribed in many areas for safety and occupational safety reasons," says the railway. "That's not going to be shaken." The train drivers are already being trained to drive their trains as energy-efficiently as possible.

After all, some stations and buildings should be checked to see whether the outside lighting can be reduced or switched off completely. The energy saving bonus should also have an effect beyond the Deutsche Bahn offices. The "sensitization" from work will certainly also have an effect on private energy consumption, believes HR Director Seiler. What is meant is the bonus as an incentive and gesture.

The railway employees are unlikely to understand the payment as more. After all, private energy costs in particular are currently rising rapidly. The levy on all gas customers alone, which is intended to cover the higher gas procurement costs from October, could amount to up to five cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). In a household with four people and an average consumption of 20,000 (kWh), this adds up to up to 1000 euros per year - in addition to the significantly increasing prices. You won't get very far with 100 to 150 euros.

After all, Deutsche Bahn does not want to drive up the private costs of its employees even further by having to work from home in winter. We deliberately did not issue a generally valid home office regulation for the entire group, but gave the departments a free hand as to how often they can work outside the office. Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) brought the increased use of home offices into play in winter to save energy. He wanted to talk to employers, unions and the responsible Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD).

But even if the Bahn employees continue to come to the office in the dark winter, they will still find their way. Only the white lighting in the windows is switched off. The red DB logo should continue to shine on the Bahn Tower.

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