Getting Sustainable in Germany

Check out the living breathing sustainable city of Freiburg...

When it comes to sustainable cities, Germany is fast becoming the country to take a look at. Frankfort scores particularly well in terms of transportation and renewable energy. Berlin is good in air quality, CO2 emissions and water use. Bremen ranks high in buildings and environmental management. These are the impressive findings shared by a study done by the Sustainable Cities Collective.

The city that is creating the biggest impact in the area of sustainability however, is Freiburg. Freiburg has, through sincere commitment, become the epitome of a living, breathing sustainable city. Their deep respect for both cultural and architectural roots, coupled with innovative and unconventional planning decisions makes them worth taking an even closer look at. A truly impressive model of sustainability for us all.

Freiburg is a 900 year old city of under 250,000 people, perched in the wine growing region of southwest Germany. Freiburg’s energy policy has three pillars: energy conservation, the use of new technologies such as combined heat and power, and the use of renewable energy sources like solar to meet new demand, instead of fossil fuels. Their goal is to realize an ecologically-oriented energy supply. They have an even deeper goal: to create sustainable regional development for the area as a whole.

Curious why Freiburg? It’s interesting that back in the 1970’s plans to build a nuclear energy plant just 30 km from Freiburg led to a major protest with civil disobedience. The result was a defeat of this plan in 1975. The people had spoken. A reminder that the power is with the people. This event raised the environmental awareness of Freiburg’s citizens and soon the city developed a reputation as Germany’s “ecological capital”. What happened next, adds to the city’s already rich history. Soon the city was attracting a wide network of environmental organizations, businesses and research institutes. The city was well on its way to realizing its goal.

Take a look, at Freiburg, Germany. An inspiring example of what is possible with a commitment to maintaining the beauty of our past, married to the need to work towards a sustainable future. Kudos to all the people of Freiburg who continue to live this possibility and show us all it is indeed within our grasp.