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An Office Abroad: Freiburg

August 9, 2017

The Office of Sustainability heads to a new continent.

They want to see how communities in different countries have implemented the advancement of the Energy Transition and community engagement surrounding sustainability. 

Freiburg has a reputation for being one of Germany’s greenest cities. With a history rich in civic engagement and clean energy, the university town nestled in the woods seemed like the perfect place for us to learn from.

One of the first, most striking things we noticed not only in Germany, but through our time in Europe is the amount of renewable energy. It's everywhere!

On residential rooftops:

On large scale housing buildings:

On covered car parking:

And these are just a few solar examples. Wind turbines are often an added bonus of views of the countryside. The hills are alive with wind turbines!

Our awesome tour guide, Steffen, gave us a brief history of the energy transition of Freiburg. The transition started when local citizens decided they didn't want a nuclear power plant and joined together to fight against the implementation and for renewable energies. Along the tour, we were able to see large, multi family residences built to the German Passive House energy efficiency standards. We were able to visit the Hotel Victoria, an almost 500 year old hotel whose owners have adopted the motto “ecology = long-term economy”. As a large energy user, the hotel’s yearly energy consumption is equivalent to the consumption of 60 households. The hotel looks too friendly energy sources of the local region: sun, wind, water, and wood. We were also able to see a solar village, where all of the houses were complete with solar installations. 

The commitment alternative forms of transportation was evident everywhere we looked. Bicycles are so common that there is even a parking garage for bikes. Inter-city metro transportation is also very common. The city works to promote accessibility of forms of alternative transportation by making them both inexpensive and easily accessible from all areas of the city. 

bike parking

Freiburg train

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