Madison’s sister city is a leader in sustainability

Currently 40 percent carbon neutral, Madison’s sister city, Freiburg, Germany, is a world leader in sustainable development, according to GreenSummer Freiburg program representative Beth Tryon.

UW students in FreiburgGreenSummer Freiburg is a program is a community-university exchange program supported by CALS, the Global Health Institute, and the Morgridge Center for Public Service in which UW-Madison students spend four-six weeks in Freiburg learning about transit, renewable energy, sustainable neighborhoods, and environmental economics, as well as several other sustainability-related topics.

In the summer 2013, seven UW-Madison students participated in the program, which has been in place since 2011, according to Tryon.

Freiburg Mayor Dieter Salomon and a delegation of Freiburg city officials and business representatives visited Madison in the first week of September, visiting notable locations in Madison including the Dane County Farmers’ Market, the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery and the Verona-based company EPIC, according to the Badger Herald student newspaper.

UW-Madison students who participated in the 2013 program as well as community members greeted the Freiburg representatives at the Discovery building September 4, providing information about the university’s sustainability efforts as well as artifacts from their trip to Germany. The Office of Sustainability was one of the partners supporting the visit.

According to Tryon, participants in the program on both ends want to focus on ways Madison can replicate Freiburg’s sustainability-driven lifestyle and development in Madison in a short timeframe.

Tryon said Freiburg is unique because its citizens “push themselves,” and say, “we’re going to do even better than the German federal standards require” when it comes to sustainability.

Freiburg has an objective to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, according to Tryon, and they have completely eliminated landfills from their community by use of recycling, incineration and a citywide biodigester.

Community co-instructor and Freiburg native Ted Petith, who led the 2013 GreenSummer program, said everything that would go to landfills, including plastics and metals, gets sorted. Food waste is also separated into compost piles and food waste digesters.

According to Petith, waste can be incinerated and used to provide heat and power for the city

“Freiburg is like a green Disneyland,” Tryon said about Freiburg.Tryon said Freiburg’s solar energy products are the most advanced in the world, and they are leading the way in sustainability innovation. Madison can count itself lucky to be its American Sister-City, because they truly want to help us!

Article by Sarah Olson, Office of Sustainability