Berlin’s green consciousness: for a better city and a better world
How to respond to the environmental, social and economic challenges when you are a growing metropolis like Berlin? Each year, the city’s population increases by about 40,000 inhabitants. Which means the demands for housing, urban infrastructure, mobility, waste disposal as well as the use of resources grow continuously. To ensure a sustainable and solidarity life, the German capital offers creative solutions by responding to the diverse challenges of the future in an environmentally and citizen-friendly way, thanks to a smart collaboration between the city, businesses and the scientific community.
Smart and green mobility
A connected, automated, shared, electric, sustainable mobility. That’s what Berlin wants to achieve through its collaboration with eMo, the city’s agency for smart and electric mobility. And also with Emily, the autonomous e-car that can be booked via an app. For now, the driverless bus only runs in the EUREF-Campus, the intelligent urban quarter of the Technische Universität Berlin focused on sustainable energy solutions. But the BVG and Deutsche Bahn already want to use it – a foretaste of the future of public transport.
Other approaches are already set up. With fLotte Berlin for instance, the city offers the free rental of cargo bikes in some districts and even the police use them now thanks to ‘Ich entlaste Städte’, a project that provides private companies and public organizations across Germany with the opportunity to test a cargo cycle for a few months at very low cost. As for the Senate Department for Environment, Transport and Climate Protection, they support cargo bikes by funding their purchase to encourage more and more Berliners to switch to this environmentally friendly, quiet and space-saving companion.
The city of Berlin is not the only one to support ecological means of transport. Berlin-based businesses also contribute to sustainability. That’s the case of the multinational IAV Engineering which focuses on electric and autonomous mobility, or Brose – one of the most innovative and successful suppliers in the international automotive industry – which produces since 2014 its e-bikes ‘Made in Germany’, in Berlin. On another and more local scale, startups such as Clever Shuttle, MOIA or ioki provide mobility-on-demand and ridesharing thanks to electric or hydrogen vehicles based on algorithms to ensure a more efficient but also more ecological service. Sharing is caring!
When city has a taste of countryside
With its 3,6 million inhabitants and a constant influx, the need for initiatives focusing on healthy and sustainable food is essential in Berlin. The city wants to favor the production of organic products to a hyperlocal level, while respecting the environment. That’s how Berlin recently created the House of Food foundation, whose aim is to significantly increase the share of organic products in day-nurseries, schools, canteens, cafeterias and catering in public institutions by 2021. Inspired by a model first created by Copenhagen in 2007, the idea is to bring together cooks, food experts, teachers and designers to offer advice and cooking courses. With the urban vegetable gardens, local citizens are also being encouraged to cultivate useful crops, using public green spaces in their neighborhoods to plant rows of vegetables or fruit trees. In one of our previous articles, we’ve presented you some of Berlin’s Green oases.
Reducing the distance between the farm and the fork, that’s also what offers InFarm, an expanding startup based in Berlin that develops an ‘indoor vertical farming’ system capable of growing anything from herbs, to vegetables and fruits. Its ambition: to provide 100% fresh, local and pesticide-free produce for Berlin inhabitants, and to offer an innovative urban food system which is healthy, transparent and sustainable.
Recycling of plastic bottles is part of the everyday life in Berlin with the German bottle deposit (called ‘pfand’) system – and the waste reduction is not only a public concern. Soul Bottles suggests products that are good both for the planet and the people who live on it. Their water bottles are 100% plastic-free and one Euro of every sold bottle goes into humanitarian projects to build water facilities in countries that need it. Little extra, they commission local artists to do the design so that you can drink water in bottles that look pretty cool.
Another remarkable green project of the Berlin startup scene is Original Unverpackt, the first supermarket in the world dedicated to a zero-waste lifestyle. In their Berlin (and online) shop, only organic, natural and sustainable products, no unnecessary disposable packaging and you only buy what you really need. A clever way to reduce plastic waste and leftovers.
For a renawable future
Funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy for four years (2017-2020) as part of the ‘Smart Energy Showcase program’, WindNODE is promoted as the ‘showcase for intelligent energy’. The Berlin-based enterprise focuses on a future in which our electrical energy needs are almost completely covered by renewable sources. How? By identifying flexible energy users in industry and in large residential areas who can align their electricity consumption with the fluctuating supply of wind and solar power plants. Their aim is thus to integrate large quantities of renewable electricity into the energy system.
This green electricity can also be found in the replacement batteries offered by GreenPack, a young promising startup for which renewable electricity can also be mobile. Their intelligent batteries enable to store and transport green energies for various uses, whether it is for your electric car, scooter or house.
In many ways, Berlin shows us its wish to offer its inhabitants and visitors a city where life is good and future is optimistic. Local citizen and business initiatives reinforce this common desire. And the projects mentioned above are a tiny part among many others. There is so much to do, but already so much on the tracks! The Green Tec Awards, another great project that takes place every year in Berlin since 2008 – and the most important award ceremony worldwide for environmental protection – recently added a special category for startups. This year, among applications from more than 130 countries, two of the three finalists in this category are from Berlin: Fresh Energy, an independent 100% green energy supplier, and Einhorn and their fairstainable (fair & sustainable) condoms. Berlin is green, Berlin is creative!
More information about clean technologies in Berlin: businesslocationcenter.de
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Photo: INFARM © DIEPHOTODESIGNER.DE
Text: Uhura Creative Media – Maeva Caron