1. ICLEI Member News
Oslo is world’s first capital to divest from fossil fuel
ICLEI member Oslo (Norway) is the first capital city in the world to commit to pulling all investment from the fossil fuel industry. A total of €6.4 million of coal investments from Oslo council’s pension fund will be moved out of the sector and invested elsewhere.
Oslo’s finance commissioner Eirik Lae Solberg said: “We are pulling ourselves out of coal companies because power generation based on coal is one of the most environmentally harmful in the energy sector. We want to use our investments to promote more environmentally-friendly energy and a more environmentally-friendly society.”
The Norwegian announcement came only weeks after 1,000 protesters took to the streets of Oslo demanding the action on Global Divestment day, held on 13 February. The pledge has come amidst a global push for a Fossil Free future, with more than 40 cities including ICLEI member Orebro (Sweden), and over 100 educational institutions, religious organisations, foundations and other institutions taking part.
For more information, visit the Go Fossil Free website.
Freiburg’s solar village shining bright after almost 15 years
ICLEI member Freiburg’s (Germany) self-sustaining village, Solarsiedlung (Solar Settlement), is going strong after almost 15 years and is still producing four times the amount of energy its residents consume. The community achieves this through its smart solar design, which is embedded within the architecture. This means that the photovoltaic panels are always facing the right direction, and can increase in size when the sun dims.
59 homes have been occupied since the community’s construction, which ran from 2002 – 2005. The settlement generates 420,000 kWh of solar energy from a total photovoltaic output of 445 kW peak per year, resulting in around 200,000 litres of oil and 500 tons of CO2 saved annually. The space is also car-free thanks to a large underground car park which houses 138 vehicles, and due to a well-organised car-sharing system.
At the heart of the village is the Sonnenschiff (Sun Ship) which, as a large commercial space, acts as a service centre for the community. It is home to a rooftop garden, and additionally works as a sound barrier for the residencies. It is the first commercial PlusEnergy (a term coined by the architect Rolf Disch for buildings that produce more energy than they use) building. The space has been the recipient of many awards over the years, including the German Sustainability award, the Global Energy Award and the European Solar Prize.
For more information, visit the Rolf Disch Solar Architecture website.
Stockholm to build car-free parking lot
Stockholm’s (Sweden) new parking lot will noticeably be lacking one element: cars. The new lot will, instead, house 700 bikes. "The city of the future is not one built around the car as a means of transportation," says Roger Mogert, City Planning Commissioner for Stockholm. "This requires that we make it easier to travel by bike, and of course safe and efficient parking solutions are one step towards that goal."
The covered garage is fully designed for cyclists: instead of doors with handles, entrances will automatically slide open so cyclists can ride in directly from the adjacent bike path or street; a bike repair shop will allow cyclists to access services where they park; and changing rooms will provide riders with space to change and shower, with lockers for storage. "A car park requires very large surfaces for access, and ramps only used by cars," says Rahel Belatchew Lerdell CEO of Belatchew Architects, the firm designing the garage. "The flow of people is too small to generate any other activity except parking a car. With bicycles, on the other hand, we can create possibilities for activities like bike repair shops or smaller cafes, which in turn make a neighborhood livelier and safer."
For more information, visit the Fast Company website.
Sustainable travel guide for "eco-hip" Berlin
Germany’s trendy capital, and ICLEI member, Berlin has long had the reputation of being artsy, gritty, and alternative. Recently, however, the once divided city has been building a new reputation for itself: Sustainable. Visit Berlin, the official tourism site of the city, has created Sustainable Berlin, an online guide dedicated to promoting tourism in the city in the greenest possible way.
Dubbing Berlin as “the most eco-hip capital of the world”, the site offers suggestions on almost all aspects of city visiting. Namely, a myriad of accommodations and restaurants are listed, as well as categories including Organic Food, Sharing is Caring (providing cooperative and upcycling options), Urban Gardening, Eco Fashion, and Berlin by Bike.
The site also highlights the commitment of locals to ensuring a sustainable urban environment: “Berliners are using their free spaces as new opportunities to become socially engaged, promote sustainable forms of consumption and ways of living in the city that respect the future".
For more information, visit the Visit Berlin website.