52% green spaces, 160,000 trees, 40 parks, 50 lakes: welcome to Frankfurt am Main, one of Germany’s greenest cities. With 700.000 inhabitants, Frankfurt is the fifth largest city in Germany, a major business centre and transport hub. The city uses the highest proportion of renewable energies in the country, is a leader in providing alternative transport for citizens, has the highest number of passive house apartments and certified “green buildings” and is a pioneer in the public transport sector. In recognition of its efforts, Frankfurt was shortlisted for the European Green Capital 2014 alongside Bristol and Copenhagen, for its comprehensive set of actions towards sustainability and environmental change.

Frankfurt aims to be a green and inclusive city for all its inhabitants. This is why a wide range of energy-saving actions have been developed with the citizens and the private sector. Such bottom-up approach is a key success factor to meet the Covenant of Mayors of objectives by Peter Feldmann, Mayor of Frankfurt am Main.

Frankfurt joined the Covenant of Mayors in 2008 with the ambitious target of reducing its CO2 emissions by 40% by 2030. The city’s Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP) gives priority to three areas of action to decrease green house gas emissions: transport, buildings and local energy production. Frankfurt has also launched sustainable energy campaigns designed to change citizens’ and stakeholders’ behaviour.

In 2008, Frankfurt launched the ‘Frankfurt Saves Electricity’ campaign, aiming at rewarding citizens who are saving on electricity consumption. Households that reduced their electricity expenditure by at least 10% within a year would receive a €20 bonus from the city and 10 cents for each additional kilowatt saved. So far, about 4000 households have participated in the campaign and 650 have received the bonus. On average participants get around €65 in bonus while contributing to helping the environment. The electricity saving is around 500.000 kWh (750 kWh per household in average) and the total CO2 reduction rounds the 350 tonnes.

Frankfurt has also developed the ‘Cariteam Energy Saving Service’ providing training for the long-term unemployed to become ‘Energy-Saving Assistants’. The Cariteam gives low-income households free advice on how to save electricity and supplies a pack of energy-saving items. With an initial investment of €50, the energy savings amount to around €130 in one year after the initial check. Since 2009, 650 households per year have participated in the programme in Frankfurt. The project has been extended to more than 100 cities in Germany, with 70,000 households taking part and an average saving of 250kg of CO2 per family.

The city has also been successful in engaging the private sector in green corporate initiatives. Since 2008, 43 companies based in Frankfurt have taken part in EKOPROFIT, a project that gives private companies access to environment and energy management systems. On average, each company saves around €30,000 per year and some 4.2 tones of CO2, while being part of a network of businesses following the latest environmentally-friendly trends.

At the same time, Frankfurt is rewarding architects, planners and construction firms that build innovative sustainable design buildings. To this end, the city started the ‘Green Building Frankfurt’ award in 2009. The objective of the prize is to recognize outstanding green buildings in the city and to inspire other architects, planners and construction firms to follow their good example. So far 12 residential and office buildings have been awarded as models of sustainable construction in the city.

Interestingly, Frankfurt has the most energy efficient high-rise buildings in Germany, and more than 1500 apartments in passive houses and several passive house school buildings and kindergardens. The city is at the forefront of local combined heat and power supply and has a comprehensive municipal energy management.

In addition Frankfurt is working on the ‘Masterplan 100% Climate Protection’, a concept enabling the city to be completely supplied by renewable energies by 2050, involving the citizens, companies and experts. Frankfurt intends to develop a long-term vision to reduce energy consumption by 50%, being the remaining supplied by energy from wind, solar and biomass, and reducing 95% of its CO2 emissions. To get there, the city is looking to involve the whole region as most of the renewable energy (wind energy) will be produced outside of the city.

Frankfurt am Main – Key facts
– Germany’s fifth largest city – approx. 700.000 inhabitants
– The city is at the heart of the Frankfurt Rhine-Main Metropolitan region which is
Germany’s second largest metropolitan region with 5.7 million inhabitants
– Finalist of European Green Capital 2014 award, an initiative from the
European Commission
– 52% of the city area is green, covered by parks and water