Europe's greenest city district

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Vauban, Germany is a sustainable town for every other city in the world to emulate. Vauban is a “zero-emission” district in Freiburg, Germany.

The town is not completely carbon neutral, as cars are actually allowed, if you pay quite a bit (comparable to at least $23,000 USD) for a parking spot on the outskirts of town. Thus, the majority of residents don’t own a car, choosing instead to use the tram, cycle or simply walk. Most streets don’t even have parking spaces.

The radical culture of Vauban has roots in its dramatic history. Ironically, Vauban was a military town through WWII and into the early 90’s. When the military left, the vacant buildings were inhabited by squatters. These vagabonds eventually organized Forum Vauban, creating a revolutionary eco-community. Today, Vauban is modern, beautiful and represents the very cutting edge of sustainable living.

Careful urban planning helped to create a city layout which lends itself to cycling as the primary mode of transit. The terms “filtered permeability” and "fused grid" refer to a plan that ultimately means connected streets throughout the town, as well as plenty of pedestrian and bike paths. Residents primarily live in co-op buildings, such as the "solar ship", a large area of co-op buildings that run strictly on renewable energy.

The "solar ship" is the first housing community in the world in which all the homes produce a positive energy balance. The solar ship is part of Vauban’s solar settlement, helping make the town one of Europe’s most significant solar communities. A biomass plant provides district heating for Vauban, augmenting their large supply of solar energy.

In addition, the city has a number of passive homes (called “passivhaus”). Passive homes are almost entirely heated by passive-solar gains and a technically simple heat recuperation system, and are also popular in Vaxjo, as well as throughout many European cities. “Plus-energy” homes (of which there is a large, representative sample in the 'solar ship'), found throughout Vauban, actually produce more energy than they use. Solar PV's combine with the local biomass plant to produce energy which is used to meet the needs of the city's residences, after which excess energy is sold back to the city's utility company from plus-energy homes.

Sun Ship R270910 1

Green Urban Planning

Today, green urban planning is more important than ever. We provide facts about seven cities that are focused on utilizing various approaches to sustainable development. You can find out about many sources of renewable energy here.

City planning committees around the globe are becoming more focused on the importance of using sources of renewable energy, rather than fossil fuels and other finite resources. Our goal is to teach our readers about eight of the greenest cities in the world. As you peruse this site, you will gain insight into the worlds of renewable energy, urban planning, green building and sustainable mass transit. For instance, you will learn about an example of a bus system, located in Curitiba, Brazil, that serves as a standard of efficiency for other metropolises throughout the world...

 

Sustainability Trends

Ideas for a Greener Home

  • Reduce, reuse, recycle
  • Use eco-friendly cleaning supplies
  • Favor cloth over paper products
  • Chlorine-free baby diapers/ wipes
  • Choose natural lawn care - stop using pesticides and synthetic fertilizers
  • Use biodegradable detergent and oxygen bleach
  • For clean, safe drinking water without all of the waste - use a water filter and a reusable bottle
  • Install low-flow toilets

Energy Saving Ideas

  • Use CFL or LED light bulbs
  • Use Energy Star labeled equipment
  • Turn off all home and office equipment when not in use
  • Turn off lights when not in use
  • Turn down the thermostat - lowering it by just one degree can reduce heating energy costs significantly
  • Avoid phantom loads (electrical equipment that still uses energy even after turned off) by using a power strip
  • Reduce your water heater temperature from 140 degrees to 120 degrees
  • Install double pane windows