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Green housing in Freiburg

The City of Freiburg, with a population of 216 300, is located in the State of Baden-Württemberg. Freiburg has a successful local knowledge economy with a high level of innovation performance.

Sun-panels produce electricity in Freiburg. Photo: Institution of Civil Engineers,

Sun-panels produce electricity in Freiburg. Photo: Institution of Civil Engineers,

Initiatives designed to promote renewable energy substitutes for fossil fuel and nuclear power began some 35 years ago. Green housing in Freiburg has been developed, predominantly, in the districts of Rieselfeld and Vauban.

The overall concepts have been effectively realised through the application of Passive House and Plus-Energy House techniques, the installation of residential renewable energy as well as district heating systems. Operative measures include new energy standards and programmes for retro-fitting buildings combined with public awareness campaigns. All this has aimed at reducing energy spending by promoting changes in consumer behaviour.

The International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives' (ICLEI) European Secretariat and the International Solar Cities Initiative are based in Freiburg. Freiburg's extensive education sector also paved the way for the city's strong innovative capacity and has provided the knowledge base for a rapidly growing green sector. This again has helped provide a diverse and flexible economic base for the region.

The local environmental movement in Freiburg is also rooted in the active participation of both private companies and non-governmental organisations. The research institute for solar energy systems in Freiburg has played a key role in promoting innovation. Today, the environmental sector comprises over 1 500 firms which employ more than 10 000 people and generate more than 500 million Euros annually.

In terms of both economics and ecology, Freiburg has been most successful in the fields of renewable energy research and marketing. Solar panels can be found on the roofs of the Badenova Stadium and the City Hall, on schools, churches and private houses, on facades and towers.

Looking further afield, wind turbines rise from the Black Forest. With more than 1 800 hours of sunshine each year and an annual radiation intensity of 1 117 kilowatts (kW) per square-metre, Freiburg is one of the sunniest cities in Germany.

Factors such as the citizens' high level of environmental awareness, political priorities and targeted economic development, have allowed Freiburg to become a solar capital. Here, the opportunities offered by solar energy, in terms of climate protection, the economy and urban development were recognised earlier than anywhere else.