The School for Optimists
UWC Robert Bosch College, Germany
Students from around the world live and learn together at UWC Robert Bosch College in Freiburg. The curriculum covers sustainability along with more traditional subjects. Safety and energy systems from Bosch make the heritage-listed former monastery more efficient and encourage students to make efficient use of resources.
United World College (UWC) in Freiburg is a microcosm of the world. Approximately 200 students from 93 countries live and learn together here in a former Carthusian monastery. The atmosphere in the classrooms, courtyards, and adjacent residential village reflects this diversity accordingly. Given the wealth of cultures, it is not immediately obvious that UWC Freiburg is also home to cutting-edge building technology.
And it’s better this way, because the former monastery is a protected historical monument. It took three years to turn the 14th-century structure into an international school. An adjacent residential village was built at the same time, with 12 houses for faculty members and students in addition to a building housing the dining hall and auditorium. All of these new structures meet Freiburg’s high standards for energy-efficient buildings.
The old oil-based heating system in the monastery’s cellar was replaced by a natural gas-powered CHP system made by Bosch Thermotechnik with an output of 70 kWel and 109 kWth. A pellet boiler and natural gas boiler were also installed for medium and peak loads.
“It’s a combined heat and power system so it produces not only heat but also electricity,” explains Ivica Drndelic, one of the college’s maintenance experts. “We also have solar panels on the roofs of four of the residential buildings, with a combined daytime output of 32 kWp.” This set-up enables the boarding school to cater to some of its energy needs by itself.
High-Tech Despite Historical Protection
Fire protection plays an important role on the campus. The construction crew installed 600 Bosch fire detectors and the same number of loudspeakers for the public address system on the grounds, making sure not to detract from the appearance of the monastery’s historical architecture. Thanks to their excellent audio quality, the loudspeakers can even be integrated into classroom media systems. Two heritage-listed vaulted halls presented the planning team with something of challenge, because regulations prohibited the installation of wiring.
Again, a suitable solution was quickly found. The access control system is also a perfect fit. Faculty members and other staff use transponders to gain entry to the buildings and rooms, while students use their ID cards to enter the residential spaces and classrooms. This flexible system can accommodate new individuals and access rights at any time.
Everything at a Glance
One highlight is the central control unit for the safety and energy systems that Bosch assembled specifically for UWC. An integrated touchscreen shows consumption levels and control elements, along with a 3D map of the campus. “If there’s a problem with any of the technical systems, we get an SMS and can view details of the error report on this monitor,” says Drndelic.
He and his colleagues can also regulate the heat for each building using the control unit. “That saves money,” he adds. “For one thing, as it’s very easy to determine when the individual systems should switch to the lower night-time mode.”
Data Enhance Understanding
The central control unit offers yet another advantage: It records the amount of electricity and water consumed by the individual residential buildings, and allows readings to be taken at any time. This monitoring function inspired instructor Tobias Kellner, who is also UWC Freiburg’s Sustainability Coordinator, to hold a contest to see which residential building could use the least energy in winter.
“The students ran with the idea, and learned how to use fewer resources,” he says. “The consumption data were a help. Because when you can measure something, you can also understand it better.”
UWC Robert Bosch College
This school in Freiburg is currently Germany’s only United World College (UWC). It is a boarding school for students aged 16 to 19 who come from different parts of the world. One quarter of them comes from Germany. The school’s two-year International Baccalaureate (IB) program qualifies them for admission to universities around the world. Admission does not depend on parental income, but rather on candidates’ own initiative. Instruction is held in English, and one of the subjects is sustainability. There are 17 UWC schools on five continents worldwide.