Late-night pedestrians on Berlin’s historic Unter den Linden boulevard can’t help but notice that its iconic monuments and structures—the bronze of Frederick the Great, Humboldt University, the German Historical Museum, and the Brandenburg Gate, among others—are conspicuously dark. As of Sept. 1, all of Berlin’s public monuments, city halls, state administration buildings, libraries, and museums can only be lit between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. every day. This is the case across Germany now, and in many countries elsewhere in Europe, too.
The lights-out policy is only part of a sweeping new energy conservation act: All public buildings must avoid heating rooms beyond 66 degrees Fahrenheit and not heat hallways, entrances, or foyers. Public employees must wash their hands with cold water. “We’re going to have to bundle up,” said Humboldt University’s new president, Julia von Blumenthal.