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Sustainability at the DPZ

Through our daily activities in science, service and administration, we are committed to promoting sustainable business practices. We aim to do this in a continuous, dialogue-based process that includes all areas of work at the DPZ and in which concrete goals and measures are developed.

On this page we provide information about our goals and the progress we are making in achieving them.

The sustainability concept at the DPZ will initially focus mainly on reducing CO2 emissions within our own facility. To this end, processes are being analysed and optimised, and operating efficiency is being increased under the aspect of sustainability.

In 2022, a corporate carbon footprint was created for the DPZ, which indicates the areas in which we cause particularly high emissions. This involved analysing the use of resources in 2020 on the basis of the cost of energy and supplies that were used. In total, almost 8000t CO2e (CO2 equivalents) were emitted at the DPZ in 2020.

In order to develop concrete goals and measures to reduce our use of resources with the participation of all employees, we organised a climate day at the German Primate Centre in 2021 and 2022. At both events, facts and impulses were shared on various topics which were then discussed with experts and employees to find solutions. The results of the discussions on mobility, energy saving, catering, biotope and cooling strategy, for example, were collected to initiate change processes and raise awareness.

Analysis of the DPZ's carbon footprint for the year 2020. The emissions caused totalled approx. 8000t CO2e (CO2 equivalents). Diagram: Sven Lübbe-Helbig
Analysis of the DPZ's carbon footprint for the year 2020. The emissions caused totalled approx. 8000t CO2e (CO2 equivalents). Diagram: Sven Lübbe-Helbig

Sustainability in all areas

At the DPZ we are committed to sustainable management in all areas. This includes not only monitoring our energy consumption such as electricity, water or fuel used for heating. We also pay attention to smaller processes such as logistics or catering at events.

The DPZ's purchasing unit is the central control centre for all goods and consumables that are used at the DPZ on a daily basis. The staff of the unit strive to use sustainable, regional products with short transport routes wherever possible. When it comes to laboratory consumables, such as pipette tips, gloves or petri dishes, care is also taken to promote environmentally friendly products. In the case of protective clothing, for example, FFP2 masks are purchased from German suppliers wherever possible and attention is paid to ILO standards (living wages, occupational health and safety, etc.) as well as the Fair Trade quality label. For workwear, cotton and other durable fabrics from European production are preferred.

There are many opportunities to cater for guests in a sustainable and resource-saving way when organising events. At the DPZ, we therefore mainly use regional and seasonal products from certified organic and/or fair trade production and serve 60 percent vegetarian meals.

The first step towards reducing energy consumption is to know the amount of energy that is consumed in each area. For this reason, the DPZ has equipped several infrastructure areas with meters in the last few months to measure electricity, water and heat to gain an overview. With this information, it is possible to pinpoint the consumers that can be optimised based on the energy flows. "Our energy management provides us with an overview and this enables us to create load profiles and manage them in a targeted manner in order to operate more efficiently and ultimately reduce overall consumption," Katharina Peters concludes.

Dealing with cooling equipment at the DPZ

Refrigeration equipment accounts for one-tenth of annual electricity costs at DPZ. Photo: Sascha Bubner
Refrigeration equipment accounts for one-tenth of annual electricity costs at DPZ. Photo: Sascha Bubner

One process that causes high energy consumption at the DPZ is the cooling and freezing of sensitive biological samples. At the moment, there are more than 300 refrigerators and freezers in the institute that run continuously. They cause an annual electricity consumption of about 500,000 kilowatt hours and account for one tenth of the annual electricity costs (about 70,000 euros).

In the wake of the institute-wide Climate Day in September 2021, a task force was formed at the DPZ to work toward more efficient use of the cooling equipment. Those responsible first obtained an overview of all the cooling equipment currently in use at the institute and took stock. They then drew up simple rules of conduct for handling the refrigeration equipment, which are intended to reduce electricity costs in the future. These include, for example, systematically registering all samples and sorting them according to priority, as well as regularly disposing of old samples with defective or missing labeling. More order in the freezer makes it easier to find samples, prevents cold from escaping and ice from forming, and thus helps save energy.

For example, the contents of several refrigerators can be combined so that instead of three, for example, only one freezer is in operation. In the future, this will save time, energy, money, and provide a better and electronically retrievable overview of the samples in the institute.

Proper maintenance and correct handling of the freezers, such as infrequent opening and regular de-icing, also ensures a longer service life for the equipment and reduces energy costs. The technical assistants in the laboratories, in cooperation with the respective department heads, ensure that the rules of conduct for handling refrigeration equipment are observed and that new colleagues are instructed.

Contact persons of the Task Force Cooling Strategy at the DPZ are Prof. Rüdiger Behr (0551 3851-132, and Prof. Lutz Walter (0551 3851-161, walter(at)

The nut is not so easy to crack - the feeder in March

Spring in Biotope

Dr Katharina Peters, administrative director of the DPZ, on the plans to make our work more resource-efficient and the Climate Day 202, as the kick-off of our efforts.

Video in german



Deutsches Primatenzentrum veranstaltet zweiten institutsweiten Energietag

Strom einsparen und selbst erzeugen

Purchasing Unit acquires climate-neutral FFP2 masks

Wild visitors in the biotope

Deutsches Primatenzentrum veranstaltet institutsweiten Klimatag


Dr. Katharina Peters Administrative Manager +49 551 3851-114 Contact

Dr. Gerrit Hennecke

Dr. Gerrit Hennecke Assistant to the Management +49 551 3851-120 +49 551 3851-452 Contact

Environmental certificate

The RICOH Consulting 2022 analysis report on energy and environmental efficiency certifies that the DPZ was able to reduce energy consumption by 15,624 kWh p.a. through sustainable optimisation.

This considerable saving could be realised, among other things, by changing the printer system in the building from decentralised workplace printers to central, shared printers.

Certificate (German, PDF)