Global Perspectives - Germany: Freiburg

Have you ever wondered why Freiburg is considered the single best city for sustainable urban development? 

Since the 1970s, Freiburg has been working on challenges such as climate change, energy consumption, reduced mobility (bikes everywhere!!!), sustainable urban development, community integration and participation. 

In short: how to live well, peacefully and sustainably. Have they done it? Utilize this our virtual learning experience to find out more about this small German city and its happy, sociable citizens. 

  • Sustainability
  • Environment
  • Innovation
  • Renewable energy
  • Economy 
  • Humanities


Victoria Green Hotel Freiburg, Square of Old Synagogue, Electric Cars Freiburg, City Hall Freiburg, Community Housing Weingarten, City Planning Rieselfeld, Solar Garage, Vauban District, Vauban Power Plant, Collective Planned Project, The Heliotrope, Environmentally Friendly House, Bio Energy Village in the Black Forest, Reinbold Farmhouse, Innovation Academy Freiburg, Farm House Museum, Solar and Wind Farm.


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University Library Freiburg
Stefan introduces himself and Innovation Academy.

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Victoria Green Hotel Freiburg
The Hotel Victoria has received multiple awards for the exemplary environmental protection. In order to contribute to the protection of the environment, they rely on the environmentally friendly energy sources of their region: solar, wind, water and wood. “We are convinced that taking care of nature and our environment is the most important requirement for our future.“

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Hotel Victoria Roof Solar Energy
As one of the sunniest regions in Germany, Freiburg receives about 1,800 hours of sunshine per year. The hotel’s approximately 200 square meter large solar power station on the roof produces approximately 20,000 kilowatt hours of current per year. Its roof energy garden produces an amount of energy sufficient to supply all hotel's rooms with energy.

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Hotel Victoria Basement
The Hotel's transition from oil to wood pellets for heating, their benefits as a local, renewable source of energy.

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Town Hall Square of Freiburg
The Town Hall Square of Freiburg is a great place to meet, celebrate and start exploring the city. The square contains modernity but also history. Let's find out more with Stefan!

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Shopping Street of Freiburg
The main shopping street of Freiburg is a jewel of Freiburg's restored Old Town. On this street you will find department stores and stores with international brands. In the Rathausgasse you will find a wide range of regional and international boutiques and stores. However, sustainability is not forgotten. Let Stefan tell us why.

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Freiburg Minster Cathedral Market
There is a lot of hustle and bustle on weekday mornings in the large cathedral market surrounding this Freiburg landmark. Fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers attract people just like the “Lange Rote”, Freiburg‘s legendary bratwurst. This is where the gourmet and slow food scenes meet, purchasing ingredients for unusual or sophisticated dishes.

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Car Free Pedestrian Zone Freiburg
The City of Freiburg is often called Germany's "ecological capital" and has been recognized internationally as one of the world’s most livable, sustainable and child-friendly cities. In the car-free pedestrian zone of Freiburg you don’t hear any traffic noise.

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Noise Pollution Zone Freiburg
Noise pollution is a major problem for Europe’s environment. Transportation and industry are the main sources of concern and prolonged exposure can damage human health and adversely affect ecosystems. About 100,000 cars drive around the city center of Freiburg everyday.

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Historical Map Freiburg
The cartographer Waldseemüller is credited with the first recorded usage of the word 'America' to name a portion of the New World in honour of the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci. He was also the first to map South America as a continent separate from Asia; the first to produce a printed globe and the first to create a printed wall map of Europe.

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Square of Old Synagogue
It is the second largest square in the city after Minster Square. The square is named after the old synagogue, which was destroyed during the Kristallnacht in 1938. The square has had a radical change. From being a busy street, it is now a pedestrian area where people can meet and spend time.

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Bike Tracker Freiburg
In Freiburg there is a bike tracker that counts the incoming cyclists and the tons of co2 that are reduced via cycling.

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Bike Garage Freiburg 1
At the bike station in Freiburg there is a parking lot, car-sharing organizations, bike rental, but also cafes. Let's see everything you can do there!
Bike Garage Freiburg 2
The bike garage was built in 1999 and has 1000 places for bikes. It has an important function, especially for commuters.

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Electric Cars Freiburg
Employees of Freiburg City Hall can use electric cars owned by a car-sharing organization paid for by the city of Freiburg. Let's find out how it all works.

City Hall Freiburg -The new City Hall in Freiburg with administration center and daycare, was opened in November 2017. It is the world’s first public building to be net-energy positive. The City Hall provides workspace for the 840 employees of the City Administration.

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Community Housing Weingarten
The urban district of Weingarten was founded in the 1960s in the context of an acute need for housing in Freiburg. Just under 15,000 people of different origin live in the urban district. Around 80% of the apartments are state-funded as social housing.

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City Planning Rieselfeld
Rieselfeld is home to an exemplary concept as far as town planning and construction are concerned. It possesses extensive green areas and open spaces- child care facilities, schools, businesses, restaurants, consultancies and modern service industries can all be found within walking distance along Rieselfeld‘s traffic-calmed streets.

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St. Mary Magdalene Church in Rieselfeld
This modern church in Rieselfeld has a very special feature, let's find out what it is!

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Vauban District Green City
Every building in Vauban has solar panels on its roof. It's not surprising that Vauban is the greenest area of the greenest city, Freiburg, in the greenest province, Baden-Württemberg, in Germany. Freiburg, a city of about 220,000 people and 155 km2, is already known as an eco-city with the Green Party having the strongest presence there of anywhere in the country.

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Community Centre Building
The citizen's association "Forum Vauban e.V." (which has NGO-status) applied to coordinate the participation process and was recognized as its legal body by the City of Freiburg in 1995. Through this process, many resources became available: the biggest strength of the project is the involvement of people who make up the district. Major driving forces for the development of Vauban are the ideas, the creativity and commitment of the people involved and the common goal to create a sustainable, flourishing neighbourhood.

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Solar Garage Vauban District
Support of "car-free" living: Residents without cars are exempted from participating in the community car park. Car-free households thus save the substantial cost of a parking space. The community car park is therefore not subsidized by the "car-free" households (fair distribution of expenses). Car owners have to accept walking a short distance to reach their cars.

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Vauban Power Plant
The Vauban combined heat and power station is an example of an ecological solution that meets the environmental requirements of local citizens, at the same time saving them money for heating thanks to its outstanding efficiency.

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Collective Planned Project
Collective planned-buildings: People who are usually separated, now live together in one building. Why does the city support this? Let's find out with Stefan!

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Collective Planned Project
Now let's hear the motivations that push people to live in these collective planned-buildings. Stefan also shows us the case of a particular building with a focus on inclusion and where the idea came from. 
Trams and Grass
Around 50% of the tracks of tramlines in the city of Freiburg are covered by grass – this results in, at least, a 50% reduction in noise compared to tarmac or gravel lined tramways.
Green Spaces Instead of Parking Garages
These green spaces are intended for those who want to grow vegetables. Let's take a look at the plants and their beautiful flowers.

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Green Park Community Oven
In Vauban there are “green areas” including five playgrounds each themed according to age group and activities based more on nature, not toys. This one has a free wood-fired stone oven in the centre of it.

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The Heliotrope Environmentally Friendly House
A circular building housing rotating solar panels that adjust to the Sun's position to capture maximum sunlight. Excess energy is put back into the city's grid and home owners receive a cash profit guaranteed by the German government for 20 years.

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Bio Energy Village in the Black Forest
The village Freiamt in the Black Forest, is using all forms of renewable energy. A biogas plant, solar power, wind and water energy toghter produce about 14 million kwh of energy annually, about 3 million more than needed. Around 150 solar collectors are used for water heating.

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Reinbold Farmhouse Storage Tank
A biogas plant is where biogas is produced by fermenting biomass. The substrate used for the production of this methane-containing gas usually consists of energy crops such as corn, or waste materials such as manure or food waste.

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Reinbold Bio energy Fermentation Tank
Erhard shows us the use of the fermentation tank on the Reinbold farm. At the farm, nothing goes to waste!

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Reinbold Bio Energy Farm House Transformer
On their farm, the Reinbold family produces about 1.2 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year. This is also thanks to the transformer, let's see how it is used.
Reinbold Piping System
Erhard shows us how the farm's piping system works and where the heat is collected. There is also a wood chip heating system, in case there is not enough heating energy in winter and the temperature drops below 0°C.

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Solar and Wind Farm
The Schneider family owns 60 hectares of land, 30 of which are forest. They also own the area where three wind turbines have been installed. They produce their own electricity with the solar roof and the wind turbine. Let's find out more.

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Wood Chip Incinerator
Let's compare, together with Erhard, the prices that differentiate a wood chip heating system, an oil heating system and a pellet heating system.

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Heating System Tanks
The water in the tanks of the heating system reaches 60°C. When the tanks are full, the heating stops.

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Wood Chip Storage
The farmer manages the heating system himself. It's very simple, let's see it together!

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Wind Turbines, Sustainable Energy
Wind turbines are considered to be a clean and sustainable source of power. In Freiamt there are three of them. They produce more than 10 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, which is enough for 3,000 families.

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Largest Windmill Turbine
This wind turbine belongs to 108 owners. It was an investment of 5 million euros.

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Inside Windmill Turbine
Erhard shows us the inside of the wind turbine. He explains the data in the generator, how much electricity is produced and how many families are supplied.

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Farm House Museum
In this farm house we see the tools and objects typical of the farmers in the Black Forest that were used in the past, to produce honey or to make bread.

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Innovation Academy Freiburg
Innovation Academy sees itself as part of a global movement that aims to contribute to societal transformation through education on sustainable development. The cornerstones of the educational work are: sensitization, knowledge aquisition, activation, exchanging of experiences and the understanding that all of us can be influenced by positive, practical examples.