Green is the new black!
A visionary city council inspired by the idea person Asger Gramkow and Peter Mads Clausen, sent, in 2007, the Sonderborg-area on an ambitious transition journey that challenges the idea of how a city should develop, how citizens in a society should be motivated to be ahead when it comes to climate change and how the companies can use the transition to create green business.
This is ambitious because back in 2007 it was primarily scientists that were worried about climate challenges. Since the climate change has become more severe, not only globally, but also in the Sonderborg-area, where heavy rain has proven to undermine bridges, roads and train connection along with flooding housing associations, holiday houses and hotel buildings.
The citizens of Sonderborg, if lucky, may be looking forward to the island of Als, on which Sonderborg is located, becoming the new Mallorca with sun and warmth – but hardly without any disadvantages, because in this case the scientists figure that the climate refugee wave globally will increase by 5 times and our, more than 200 kilometer coastline around Als will be threatened due to rising sea levels.
ProjectZero was born as a public private partnership – and the relationship public and private has proven to work as a catalyst for sustainability that many cities around the globe are looking for. That’s why they come to the Sonderborg-area to study our efforts and to engage in business consultations with our local climate companies.
Local grocery store became a role model for its efforts in 2017
In 2017 Sonderborg experienced a LED-technology breakthrough in households, stores, companies, organizations, institutions. The city will henceforth reduce its energy consumption for lighting by up to 65%.
The grocery store Brugsen on Als and Sundeved is with its 15 stores a frontrunner and contributes to the green transition in a many ways, varying from LED to heat recovery to solar panels on the roof. The stores now also have signs showing that show their climate friendly efforts.
In 2017 the number of local stores that are a part of the green transition amounts to more than 50%. All parties are doing a great job and are reducing more and more CO2.
The larger corporations Danfoss, Linak, Sonderborg utility and Sonderborg municipality have taken up the glove and last year Danfoss reported a 45% CO2-reduction in the Sonderborg-area and Sonderborg utility with a whopping 52%.
The Municipality replaced the traditional diesel fueled busses with new green biogas busses. The gas will mainly be supplied by the area’s biogas plant. The driving of busses is during the next couple of years expected to be, fully, supplied by the area’s local green fuels.
The area’s heating companies continue their pursued on the green transition of fuels for heating supply and more and more people are becoming a part of district heating.
A district heating company located in a town close to Sonderborg called Broager is with its’ groundwater based well on the way to eliminating the use of gas in district heating. Power heating, all kinds of heat pumps , sun heating, biomass – Sonderborg does, indeed, have a wide variety of solutions to show to for example Chinese visiting delegations, who need to expand their district heating net with green energy sources.
The EU HAPPI- Project supports the cooperation of the housing associations
The housing associations have, with the backing of the EU, increased to pace of which energy rebuilding and green energy production is happening. Lately the support from EU has been in form of partly financing the renovation of residence in Sobo, SAB and B42. From February, however, all the six housing associations will be supported, and an ambitious renovation plan for 3.300 houses will be backed with by the EU with a million Euros to develop better solutions in cooperation with DEM & Esbensen and EUC- syd among others - hence the name of the project EU-HAPPI.
Last falls’ house- and lifestyle exhibition in Augustenborg located close to Sonderborg received more than 10.000 guests, who had the opportunity to learn more about their next step solutions when working with houses where the windows have already been replaced and isolated. During a busy weekend, 40 citizens of Sonderborg and ProjectZero-partners were a part of a Q&A-session both where praise and criticism were received from the many guests.
In 2017 Sonderborg’s effort were noticed when almost 20 international delegations with around 500 participants visited Sonderborg to learn about the area’s transition along with meeting Sonderborg companies who are able to deliver energy related solutions.
Climate conference brought transition cities to Sonderborg
The climate conference in October, ones again, put Sonderborg on the European map, due to the conference becoming a focal point for the SmartCity network, the EU’s Smart Cities & Communities and the, almost, 200 participants rom 30 European countries.
In 2017, became the year where Sonderborg received the Svend Auken Price for its effort with regards to climate and environment.
In October the conference guests at Alsion and the visitors in Augestenborg were reminded what kind of transition we are participating in. The 10 meter tall climate balloon displayed how much pollution a ton of CO2 emits in the atmosphere. It makes us wonder that back in 2007 we, in Sonderborg municipality sent 722,000 balloons of CO2 into the air. This number, however, has since then been reduced to 250,000 ballons, which is great, but it also shows that there is still quite a few ballons to remove on the way towards the big zero.
Thanks for the effort in 2017 – You will all be needed in 2018
Thanks to all of your ProjectZero-effort last year – the ProjectZero vision will only be realized if everyone contributes. With efforts in your business, organization, home, transportation, your behavior as ambassadors of Sonderborg’s ProjectZero – and in this close cooperation with every citizen of Sonderborg – and with the next generation, who we have to motivate so that the youth takes responsibility for climate change in their every day.
The youth has to be in front in Climate change
Yash and Stine are youngsters, who are worried for the Climate. Both participated in 2009 together with 400 other young people at the Bight Green Youth Conference in Alsion. Yash lived, at that time, in India, but now works with software development in Cleveland/Ohio. Stine grew up in Augestenborg, but studies PhD at Lund University. Last fall they were both back in Sonderborg due to the Climate Conference at Alsion.
Yash and Stine are frontrunners for a new generation, who takes climate change seriously. They are both climate activists on their individual platforms.
We need more young people to engage in, and become ambassadors for the transition – no matter where they are on the planet, but always with focal point in Sonderborg.
There is 12 years until the deadline in 2029.
We just started a new year, which means we have 12 years to realize Sonderborg’s ProjectZero vision and reducing the remaining 65% CO2-emissions.
Major projects are in the VVM-process, which not only includes one of the two biogas plants, but also windmill project at the coast at Lillebaelt south, that is to secure the majority of the future’s green energy for the companies and houses in the area.
Biogas, sun and wind are needed – but the transition will only succeed, if we remember, that it’s driven locally by the climate- engaged citizens’ ambitions in the area’s around 35,000 houses, leaders and employees in shops, companies, farms, craftsmen, financial institutions, schools, sportsfacilities, supply companies in the municipality and by the many youngsters, who, just like Stine and Yash are fuelled by the challenge.
12 years to optimize efforts and solutions…..
-Your efforts and ambitions will be needed in 2018.
I wish all of you a happy new year!
CEO of ProjectZero, Peter Rathje