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Green Living in Vauban; Germany’s Eco-village

Green Living in Vauban; Germany’s Eco-village

Eco-friendly products have successful hit the marketplace in the west. Organic food and green products have been expanding with two digit figures for the past 15 years, excluding 2009. In addition, automakers are providing new auto-solutions. Fully electric and gas-electric hybrid vehicles are stepping onto the road.

This is good news for our plant. The reduction in consumption of dirty products for greener ones is addressing the challenge of global warming as well as waning pollution. One of the most effective eco-oriented changes has been the introduction of reusable shopping bags. The most interesting part is that our reusable shopping bags are filled with ‘environmentally friendly products’.

An increasing number of environmentally conscious shoppers is leveraging green consumerism. Nevertheless, capitalism is making some minor adjustments, but they are still depleting natural resources and overwhelming the earth with waste, mass production and pollution.

The private corporate devils have adopted eco-friendly solutions but to a limit. They agree with the fact that green goods are an emerging market opportunity. However, the leaders of these large corporations are unwilling to embrace conservation to its full sense. Currently, consumers are faced with two options to maintain a higher standard of living: Either to resort to consuming less or to continue with consumption of environmentally unsound products.

It is certain that capitalism can foster innovation. However, capitalism isn’t willing to engage on an environmentally and ecological sane solution if there isn’t enough profit to be made.

South-West German Exemplifies greenness

In the south-west of Germany, we have one of the greenest cities on earth; Freilburg. There are two eco-villages in Freilburg, Reiselfeld and Vauban. The cities have been around for a dozen years with a well-established community. Nowadays, approximately 15,000 inhabitants of diverse income groups live in the region.
Vauban Changed into An Eco-friendly Village

In 1995, the Forum Vauban was formed. The group took the social initiative to go energy-efficient. It was then that the Vauban community started transcending towards greenness. The German Federal Foundation for Environment provided a sizeable grant to support the environmental conservation efforts. The group became increasingly more formal and wider public gathering was formed to exchange ideas.

The final product was a 400-page document with lucrative energy-and-environmentally sound proposals. This included ideas such as resource-efficient apartment, photovoltaic arrays, a cogeneration power plant, as well as a cogeneration unit for individual buildings.

Another initiative by the group was to reduce the presence of automobiles, supporting child-friendly pedestrian zone. Forum Vauban suggested banning parking in residential streets to avoid excessive use of cars. This would alter the habit of people. Currently, in Vauban less than the national average owns a car.

In Vauban people have been engaged in social planning, sharing ideas and concept to make its community a better place. Interestingly this has been achieved by self-organization of people. In other words, instead of complaining about the current state, people are doing something to make things happen.

Another concept for housing is to be resources efficient. For instance, single-family homes do waste both resources and space. The most convenient solution is to construct highly dense residential housing. For ancient buildings, renovation and retrofitting are essential. In the region, advanced passivhaus are used. These housing facilities (architecture) use on average only 15 percent of the energy in comparison to conventional German housing facilities; on average 20-KWh is used per square foot while the passivhaus architecture brings this down to only 1.3 KWh.

The Passivhaus architecture has this ‘passive’ ability to retain heat or coolness for winter and summer respectively. This reduces heavy cost used to for heating or air conditioning. A characteristic of the passivhaus design is that buildings have well-insulated windows, doors and walls. On average passivhaus cost 7 percent more than contemporary buildings.

In German there has since long been increasing pressure for alternative sources of energy. In 2008 around 14 percent of the country’s electricity supply came from renewable energy. The government is expecting to heighten this representation to 25 to 30 percent by 2020.

The Equal Power Policy

According to a founding member of Forum Vauban, Jörg Lange, who is a trained biologist is now concentrating his attention on the 2,000-Watt Society. It is a programmed promoted by a Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. The concept focuses on distributing an equal amount of energy to people.

It has been estimated by Swiss scientists that the earth can only accommodate an additional of six billion inhabitants if consumption per person is kept at 2,000 watts: 500 for transport, 500 for home consumption and 1,000 to grow food construct buildings and manufacturing. In Germany the consumption per person is around 4,000 Watts while in America it is twice that figure (8,000 watts per person).

Solving the trouble of global warming merely with alternative sources of energy is a misleading prophecy. Lange says that ‘You also have to cut how much we use.’

The idea of reducing consumption is opposed by politicians around the world. If economies start to consume less there will be gigantically transformations. Enhancement in technology is likely going to be the ultimate solution to decrease energy consumption in a smooth way.

According to the 2,000-Watt Society, people should be granted an equal amount of energy.

Source: Red Pepper, Heather Rogers

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RPN's contributed to this report.

Professional freelancer in Green Technology and Scientific Development. Educational background in the field of Human Resources Management.

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