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Apr 03, 2008

Main prize-winners

Wildpoldsried Innovative and Ready for the future – WIR (D)

The mission statement at Wildpoldsried, namely „Wildpoldsried – Innovative and Ready for the future (WIR)” is based on the three pillars of energy, wood and water. The measures involved are so numerous that they can only be briefly listed here: district heating (pellets), wind power, photovoltaic systems, wood construction, WiWaLaMoor wetland waterscape project, and much else besides. The result is a substantial reduction in CO2 emissions. The five wind power plants alone bring savings of 13,500 tons of CO2. The municipality more than meets its electricity requirements from its own sources. And they are regenerative, of course. Another objective is to use 100% bio-energy to meet the village’s thermal energy requirements. The acronym “WIR” is also the German word for “we” and was chosen to show that the local people identify with the various measures taken. They benefit from free energy counselling, the facilities at the new sports centre (timber construction), the recreational value of the WiWaLaMoor wetland waterscape and, last but not least, from their village’s ecological image; “WIR” has not only brought Wildpoldsried lots of publicity but also more visitors and new jobs. (Bruno Abegg, University of Zürich/CH)

Wetland restoration in the Bavarian Alps (D)

Wetland restoration, as in the case of the award-winning project in the Bavarian Alps, is an important subject in the context of climate change. Peat bogs not only help reduce greenhouse gases; their water retention capacity is also relevant in terms of flood protection. Such projects therefore make a meaningful contribution to the adaptation strategy in response to climate change.
Most of the peat bogs in the Alps are seriously degraded; only 1% of Bavaria’s peat bogs are still in a natural state. Mineralisation of Bavaria’s peat bogs causes the release of about 20 t CO2/ha per year through peat wastage alone.
Peat formation binds CO2. Intact peat bogs also have a very high water storage capacity; run-off in heavy rain on intact, restored or near-natural peatlands is much lower than on degenerated sites. That is particularly important in view of the increasing frequency of heavy precipitation events as a consequence of climate change.
Peat formation is also accompanied by the reappearance of an indigenous raised bog flora and fauna, including such species as the Moorland Clouded Yellow butterfly and the Subarctic Darner dragonfly, which are under threat as a result of climate change
Project work is focussed on 23 peat bogs from the Allgäu to Traunstein. Rewetting has restored peat growth on approx. 120 ha, and management measures have been introduced on a further 200 ha.
A typical nature protection project – or so it would seem at first sight. On closer inspection, however, we see that this project actually helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions on the one hand and prevents flooding on the other. Ultimately, it is the people living in the area who benefit from wetland restoration. We accordingly hope that the award will be seen as a token of support for all projects that make a contribution to both prevention and adaptation in the face of climate change. (Martine Rebetez, WSL, Switzerland)

Mäder, an energy-efficient municipality (A)

Mäder is a model municipality and has been for years. Mäder is a member of the Climate Alliance, participated in the e5 programme and is a member of Alliance in the Alps. From 1987 to 2004, CO2 emissions from its municipal buildings fell from 157 to 57 tons per year. That is a reduction of 63% - at a time when total cubature of the buildings more than doubled. Mäder has a twin focus on savings and renewable energy. The local authority has formulated an energy strategy and calculated the municipal carbon footprint (unusual for a municipality of this size). It also provides generous financial support for residents’ energy-saving measures. Elsewhere a lack of funds is often quoted as the reason for doing nothing. The answer from Mäder:  build one mile of road less and you can do almost anything. It is to be hoped that Mäder, which is playing a pioneering role with its broad-based commitment, will motivate as many other municipalities as possible to follow suit. (Bruno Abegg, University of Zürich/CH)

Runners up

Climate House (I)

The Climate House Agency works mainly in the field of certification for energy-saving buildings. A dedicated computer programme now provides reference values for the whole of Italy. An assessment and certification on the basis of the Climate House standard gives clients an objective picture from an independent certifying body, which means greater transparency on the real estate market. Training programmes are also available and counselling is offered in the planning and construction phases for the effective implementation of energy-saving measures.
From 2002 to 2008, more than a thousand buildings were certified to the Climate House standard. These Climate Houses save 6,000 tons of CO2 a year – the equivalent of 3 million litres of heating oil. With careful planning, it is possible to dispense with both heating and cooling systems. All parties benefit from the positive effects: the occupiers from the lower energy bills, and the clients or owners from the higher prices that certified properties command.
Originally launched as a local pilot project, Climate House has now spread throughout the country. Today the project goes well beyond the borders of South Tyrol and is pointing the way to a national climate protection programme in the construction industry.
This is yet another good example of a successful strategy for reducing energy consumption such as is to be found elsewhere in the Alps and the rest of the world. It should be stressed that indoor heating and air-conditioning systems account for 30 - 40 percent of total energy consumption in the Alpine region. It is our hope that labels that contribute to reduced energy consumption in buildings will spread far and wide and will quickly achieve general acceptance as the standard. (Martine Rebetez, WSL, Switzerland)

IG Bus Alpin (CH)

IG Bus Alpin, the Working Group for Public Transport for Tourism Destinations in the Swiss Mountains, takes over where public transport normally terminates – by providing demand-based services for the “last mile”, i.e. they bridge the gap between the existing network and the required destination. The new bus routes are planned – in collaboration with local actors – to provide access to tourism offerings. The result is an increase in bednights and income in what are often remote valleys. The initiative also makes a meaningful contribution to curbing the negative effects of recreational traffic in the mountain area. And less car traffic naturally means lower CO2 emissions. The project started with four pilot regions, but their number has since increased to eight, and it is to be hoped that the goal of IG Bus Alpin, namely the provision of public transport to 20-30 Swiss mountain regions, will soon be achieved. (Bruno Abegg, University of Zürich/CH)

Company mobility plan (PDE)

The company mobility management project run by STMicroelectronics of Grenoble is targeted at employees’ choices for travel to and from work.
The goal of the project is to increase the share of employees who do not use their cars to get to work to 70% by 2012.
Company Mobility Management is a typical multiple-goal project. It promotes the use of public transport, car-sharing and cycling, and thus makes savings in CO2 emissions. In addition it reduces the public space that is allocated to the motor car, improves air quality in the urban area and reduces the level of stress involved in travelling to work. It also makes a positive contribution to the health of those who cycle or walk for at least part of the way to work.
In 1999 alternative forms of transport were estimated to account for just 20 percent of travel to work compared with about 55 percent today. That represents an annual saving of over 1000 tons of CO2.
The STMicroelectronics project is not the only one of its kind but it is a very good example, and one can only hope that such projects will quickly become more widespread. The results show that a sound approach has been found to the need for company mobility management and indicate the points that require special attention in the planning and implementation stages to ensure the success of the project. Company Mobility Management demonstrates that climate protection and reductions in energy consumption bring more than they cost without imposing restrictions on the quality of life. On the contrary, that also improves. (Bruno Abegg, University of Zürich/CH)

Snovik Thermal Spa (Slo)

At Snovik Thermal Spa the focus is on modern technology. The buildings have excellent thermal insulation, and energy efficiency class A goes without saying for all appliances. Energy supply is based on a combination of solar panels, heat pumps and a biomass power plant, with most of the biomass sourced locally. The operating company has also built a biological water treatment plant. This level of commitment has made it possible not only to reduce the ecological footprint at Snovik Thermal Spa but also to reduce costs. Last year turnover at the facility increased by 36%, but the heating bill was 28% lower. At the same time, CO2 emissions were reduced by 300 tons. The success of the measures taken is also reflected in the large numbers of visitors who come to see the Snovik model. Such a project – intelligent in theory and convincing in application – is still something of a rarity; in Slovenia it must be unique. (Bruno Abegg, University of Zürich/CH)


Centre for the Environment and Culture – ZUK (Benediktbeuren, D)

The Centre for the Environment and Culture has achieved a remarkable synthesis of environmental awareness-raising, nature protection, agriculture and tourism. The emphasis is on nature and environmental protection, although various projects, like the Tölz Wetland Axis, clearly relate to climate protection, too. (Bruno Abegg, University of Zürich/CH)

“100% from the region for the region” – sustainable energy supply in Achental (D)

“100% from the region for the region” is one of the main projects launched in the framework of the Achental Eco-model. The objective is self-sufficiency in energy by 2020. The first measures (e.g. Achental biomass plant) have already been implemented, while others (e.g. Bio-energy Forum) are still at the planning stage. A model project with an integrated design! (Bruno Abegg, University of Zürich/CH)

plan B: other ways from a to b (Vorarlberg, A)

An intelligent regional mobility concept with the basic message that mobility awareness must also offer personal advantages. That is achieved by producing customised mobility solutions for various target groups. The result is a significant contribution to climate protection. (Bruno Abegg, University of Zürich/CH)

The challenge of climate change – offering the best possible protection for the climate and mankind with robust and harmonised measures (Murau region, A)

This (research) project involves the development of regional action plans based on a combination of adaptation and reduction strategies. The well thought-out structure and participatory style are state of the art. The results will show whether the ambitious goals can be achieved. (Bruno Abegg, University of Zürich/CH)

Sustainable river basin management for the Lower Salzach (D/A)

Innovative hydrological engineering solutions are proposed to renaturalise the Lower Salzach and provide protection from flooding. This is being done through the construction of “soft banks” and restoration of the old links to the backwaters and riverine woodland. The system is designed for a flood with a 100-year recurrence interval plus a 15% climate change factor. (Bruno Abegg, University of Zürich/CH)

Hohe Tauern National Park Science Center – Weather & Climate Lab (A)

Model educational project with indoor (climate lab) and outdoor elements (impacts of climate change on the park). The project does not simply communicate knowledge; it encourages people to think and act, with the young as the main target group (climate school). (Bruno Abegg, University of Zürich/CH)