19. June 2012
Vienna presents environmental protection in Brussels
Highlights of Vienna’s nature and environmental protection were presented to the public at the Vienna House in Brussels in early June.
“Vienna is different – environmental protection in all nooks and crannies” was the title of the event hosted by Michaela Kauer, head of Vienna’s EU liaison office in Brussels. Karin Büchl-Krammerstätter, head of MA 22, the municipal department responsible for environmental protection, talked about nature and environmental protection in Vienna: the “Network Nature” focus, the programme to preserve biodiversity and habitats in Vienna, urban greening initiatives, and the internationally acclaimed programmes ÖkoBusinessPlan Wien and ÖkoKauf Wien.
Environmentally friendly quality of life“The quality of life in Vienna involves a clear commitment to environmental protection,” said Michaela Kauer in her opening address. Karin Büchl-Krammerstätter presented MA 22 as the department responsible for all environmental protection issues. She said that species protection was of great importance in Vienna because the city offered a valuable habitat for rare flora and fauna. She also spoke of the MA 22 initiatives for urban greening. Moreover, the city of Vienna pursued a systematic internal environmental protection programme through its ÖkoKauf Wien ecological purchasing policy.
Biodiversity in ViennaAround 51 per cent of Vienna consists of green land. Of particular significance in this regard are the large recreational areas on the outskirts of the city and the many green niches in the built-up areas, which offer a habitat to many rare flora and fauna – including ground squirrels, hamsters, beavers and bats, house martins, swifts and green lizards. In order to preserve this diversity, MA 22 launched the Netzwerk Natur species and habitat protection programme over ten years ago. Around 170 implementation projects with various partners have contributed since then to preserving and fostering biodiversity in Vienna.
Green walls and roofsThe environmental protection department has also been endeavouring for years to develop nature oases in the city. They have a positive effect on the mood of the inhabitants and also have ecological advantages, reported the MA 22 head. Greened facades and roofs make a valuable contribution to the microclimate, particularly in densely built-up areas with little greenery. Experts in the department offer advice and coordinate the various pilot projects. The Green Roof Potential Cadastre (www.umweltschutz.wien.at/umweltgut/) provides information as to whether a particular roof is suitable for greening as a function of the size and pitch of the roof. The city of Vienna also offers subsidies for the greening of facades, roofs and courtyards. “More and more inhabitants are creating their own green oases in courtyards, on roof terraces and in private or new communal gardens,” explained Karin Büchl-Krammerstätter. MA 22 has been supporting this welcome development for years with information and campaigns. MA 22 has also set an example through the creation of a 400 m² green roof on top of its own office building.
Award-winning model projectsTwo internationally acclaimed model projects by the city of Vienna were also mentioned at the event in Brussels, namely ÖkoBusinessPlan and ÖkoKauf Wien. ÖkoBusinessPlan is the city’s environmental service package, which since 1998 has been supporting businesses in the implementation of environmental protection reforms, helping amongst other things to reduce operating costs. More than 900 Viennese companies have already used ÖkoBusinessPlan, saving considerable amounts on carbon dioxide, energy, waste, drinking water and transport kilometres. According to MA 22 as much as 113.6 million euros have been economised in this way since the programme was launched.
The second model project, ÖkoKauf Wien, has also proved highly popular in the ten years of its existence. Through this programme the city of Vienna purchases goods and services according to ecological and sustainable criteria – furniture, office material, cleaning products, food for kindergartens or various building contracts. The results here as well are impressive, and the city of Vienna reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 30,000 tons a year, thereby saving some 17 million euros.
International recognitionBoth programmes have earned international acclaim. ÖkoKauf Wien received the European Public Sector Award and Dubai International Award for Best Practices. ÖkoBusinessPlan has been recognised on several occasions by UN-HABITAT as a best practice and is listed as one of the best sustainability projects in the world. Many cities, countries and regions follow the Viennese model, including Györ (Hungary), Athens (Greece), Chennai (India), Durres (Albania), and Sheffield (UK).
Gudrun Krieger, Gerald Ochsenhofer, Julie Moreau de Bellaing