April 22, 2019
Overlooking Tiergarten Park Berlin and Brandenburg Gate
IMAGE: iStock / bluejayphoto
Germany’s capital is renowned as the city of green trends – and is now advancing to become a sustainable congress metropolis
Berlin is a city where green trends thrive and flourish. Berliners have always embraced sustainable and green ideas. For them, the city’s wealth of public parks is integral to their lifestyle. Many Berliners are less interested in cars and more in bicycles. Rather than surrounding themselves with industrial mass products, they learn how to make furniture or clothes in DIY workshops. And quite a few follow LOHAS principles (lifestyle of health and sustainability) – enjoying life while actively seeking healthier and more sustainable products and services, from food to consumer goods. The desire to preserve and expand the city’s green spaces and the readiness to adopt sustainable and alternative approaches is steadily transforming Berlin, once an industrial city, into a green metropolis.
Urban gardening at Tempelhofer Feld Park
In 2019, Berlin is becoming even greener with the Sustainable Meetings Berlin initiative. Launched by the visitBerlin Berlin Convention Office in cooperation with conference hotels, locations, service providers and a sustainability consulting agency, this provides the city’s first platform for sustainable event planning. The objective is to drive forwards sustainability in the MICE sector and enable event planners to organise sustainable and climate-neutral events in Berlin. Sustainable event planning has long emerged from its niche and today, it’s increasingly a firm prerequisite for planners choosing congress and convention locations.
From 2019, Sustainable Meetings Berlin gives event planners a dedicated platform for organising green and sustainable conventions in the city.
More details at convention.visitBerlin.de/en/sustainable-meetings-berlin
Urban gardening at Tempelhofer Feld Park
IMAGE: visitBerlin / Dagmar Schwelle
Berlin – green as far as the eye can see
Berlin is an exceptionally green city, with a wealth of green spaces, parks and grounds, as well as trends from urban gardening to vegan lifestyles. In fact, over 30% of the city area is green spaces and woodland. With 2,500 parks and gardens, 440,000 trees and 180km of navigable waterways, Berlin combines that big city feeling with idyllic green spaces. Thirty years after the fall of the Wall, many old industrial heritage buildings, roofs and backyards in former East and West Berlin are now remarkable inner-city locations, oases grown over the former fractures and breaks in this once divided city.
This is a city that embraces sustainability in all its many forms. Visitors from across the world are always amazed at how eco-aware life and food is in Berlin, with cucumbers from community gardens and honey from rooftop gardens. Germany’s capital also has an array of vegetarian and vegan restaurants. In late 2015, American magazine Saveur, renowned for its exploration of world cuisine, ranked Berlin as the new vegetarian capital – another area where the city is already setting sustainable trends.
Here is a brief introduction to green Berlin.
Tempelhofer Freiheit Park on the site of the former Tempelhof Airport
IMAGE: visitBerlin / Janine Blechschmidt
Tempelhofer Freiheit Park – Stretching like a sea of green
In October 2008, after the old Tempelhof Airport was decommissioned, it left a vast open space in the heart of the city. In 2010, this 355-hectare site was designated a park, far larger than Berlin’s Tiergarten between Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Zoo, and the second largest inner-city park in all Germany. For Berliners and tourists, the Tempelhofer Freiheit Park is like a sea of green, a space with room for sports and fun for everyone and an ideal site for large events. Here, visitors can enjoy a light breeze as they watch the sunset while parents and children fly kites high up in the sky. The old runways are not only ideal for kite landboarding, but also attract skateboarders and inline skaters or cyclists keen on road racing. Tempelhofer Freiheit Park is a symbol for Berlin’s lifestyle and urban feel – and in winter snow, probably the only cross-country skiing course in the inner city!
InFarm is the Berlin startup which has revolutionised the city's approach to urban farming
IMAGE: visitBerlin / Florian Willnauer
Infarm: Veg from a vertical farm
In Berlin, lettuce no longer grows on the fields, but in glass-walled vertical farming units – and how that works can be seen in the Kreuzberg district. There, the start-up Infarm has set up a laboratory for growing vegetables in vertical indoor farms. The tall glass units are packed with herbs and lettuce in special trays slowly turning under LED lights. Not only is the produce growing here digitally monitored and controlled, but it also has the shortest of food supply chains to the end consumer. It arrives on the plate as fresh as possible – and all without waste packaging. This idea has caught on with Berlin’s retail trade; supermarkets, restaurants and storerooms are already home to 50 indoor farming units.
Good Bank is the world's first vertical-farm-to-table restaurant
Good Bank: Freshly harvested – straight to the plate
In restaurants, we often know very little about where the food on our plates comes from. But Good Bank have a transparent and very visible solution. Behind the counter, three different sorts of lettuces are growing on large shelves in vertical farming units. Here, in Europe’s first vertical farm-to-table restaurant, nearly 100 lettuces are harvested and processed every day – and can be enjoyed in such delicious dishes as the Seasonal House Caesar with homegrown yacht lettuce, freshly picked. As far as possible, all ingredients not grown in the restaurant are also sourced regionally and seasonally.
Herrmann´s: The good future of healthy eating
Herrmann´s, a new kind of platform for innovative approaches to food, is located in Torstraße in the hip Mitte district. Herrmann´s is not just an all-day restaurant, but also an event location, test kitchen and film studio all in one.
The weekly market at Friedrichshain, Boxhagener Platz
IMAGE: visitBerlin / Dagmar Schwelle
Green neighbourhood oases
In each of its 12 boroughs, Berlin has idyllic green spaces for picnics on spreading lawns, outdoor sports and walks surrounded by nature. The Volkspark Friedrichshain in Prenzlauer Berg is Berlin’s oldest public park. Here, you have a wonderful view out across the city from 74 and 48 metres up on two small greened hills, originally created from World War Two rubble and demolished bunkers. In seriously cool and hip Kreuzberg, the attractive Viktoria Park is home to the Kreuzberg hill (literally ‘hill with a cross’) which gave the district its name. Berlin’s highest natural hill has a waterfall feature down the north slope. Just like Kreuzberg hill, the Humboldthain in Wedding also has a vineyard, producing around 200 bottles of wine a year.
The Park am Gleisdreieck is an attractive green space for recreation in Berlin’s Kreuzberg and Schöneberg districts
IMAGE: Lichtschwärmer / Christo Libuda
Greening former industrial sites
Berlin’s urban greening policy has transformed old shunting yards and track lines into green spaces. Gleisdreieck, named after a railway viaduct built in 1903, connects the Tiergarten park with the southern districts of Schöneberg and Kreuzberg. With its spreading green lawns, the Park am Gleisdreieck is a popular place to relax for local business people as well as visitors to Potsdamer Platz and an old Tempelhof switchyard, left derelict and overgrown, is now an unusual and enchanting park. The jungle-like woodland on Schöneberger Südgelände natural park is now home to 30 bird and 57 spider species, 95 types of wild bees, and15 species of grasshopper, as well as over 350 species of plants and 49 macrofungi.
Urban gardening – green creativity
In the wake of the guerrilla gardening movement, growing numbers of residents are helping to make Berlin even greener – and their creative energy knows no limits! From planting the middle strip on main roads to reusing neglected plant tubs or the ‘tree pits’ around the city’s trees – everywhere you can find new green areas used for flowers, plants or vegetables. Especially inventive gardeners even use shopping trolleys full of earth as mobile flower beds.
When it comes to urban gardening, the Prinzessinnengärten (Princess Gardens) at Moritzplatz has become a real institution. The Nomadisch Grün not-for-profit initiative has leased 6000 square metres from the city, and turned the site into a fertile garden, which makes a fascinatingly different incentive for a client event. Mörchen Park is another of the popular community gardens in Berlin’s creative scene.
Berlin's diversity is celebrated at the Gardens of the World
IMAGE: Grün Berlin GmbH
The Gardens of the World
The Gardens of the World in the Marzahn Recreational Park presents the art of landscaping in a range of traditions from across the globe, creating a set of gardens unique in Europe. Visiting the gardens, also home to the International Garden Show (IGA) Berlin 2017, takes you on a horticultural trip around the world, with stops in Asia, the Middle East and Europe.
Berlin and sustainable fashion – a perfect match
Eco-aware fashion does not mean giving up luxury and glamour – and that’s the clear message at the 'GREENshowroom’ organised by Berlin Fashion Week. Here, labels with high ecological standards, both from Berlin and further afield, show that eco-aware, ethical brands can be just as stylish as other high-quality garments.
Technology Park Berlin-Adlershof
IMAGE: visitBerlin / Wolfgang Scholvien
Green Tech in Berlin – a magnet for start-ups
Berlin is ranked as one of the world’s top 5 leading start-up centres. Here too, of course, forward-looking approaches to sustainability play a key role. In summer 2017, with the launch of the Green Startups network, a new platform was established for the entire spectrum of the green economy. In a similar way to the now widely recognised GreenTecAwards, the Berlin-based StartGreen portal also awards its own prize to spotlight the eco-aware and sustainable start-up scene.
Explore Berlin sustainably
To explore sustainable products and services in all their diversity, head for the Heldenmarkt consumer fair in autumn. At this large 'temporary department store for sustainability’, around 100 exhibitors present everything to do with food and drink, lifestyle, travel and energy-efficient technologies. The latest green trends, from urban gardening to ethical fashion, can also be discovered on city tours, for example, with goArt, ID22 or GreenMe. The ‘Future Berlin’ bike tour with Berlin on Bike looks at developments in this changing city, including various green projects and can make sustainability the tour’s main theme if so desired.
On the road in a Velotaxi in Berlin
IMAGE: Mike Auerbach
Berlin’s visitors also enjoy a diversity of green mobility options: bicycle, e-bike, Velotaxi or even a canoe! it’s also easy to combine green mobility with a stay at any of around 50 sustainable hotels in the city. 33 of these hotels are already part of the Sleep & Charge project, providing guests with on-site charging stations for their electric cars and helping make tourism in Berlin more sustainable. The options for travelling to the German capital are also steadily becoming greener. For example, congress and event participants from within Germany can use the DB rail Veranstaltungsticket (Events and Meetings Ticket) for a sustainable and relaxed journey to the city. Once in Berlin, with reasonably-priced special offers like the Berlin Welcome Card, it’s easy to make the most of the public transport system. Berlin also has a growing reputation as a cycling city and you can find many self-service public bike hire stations at central locations across the city. To use the bikes, just a simple registration process is needed before the first hire. Car sharing is also a popular and innovative way of moving around the city, often with vehicles using sustainable fuels. As part of its climate protection strategy, Berlin is also highlighting e-mobility and successfully linking different energy sectors. With around 550 electric vehicle charging stations, the city leads the rankings in Germany. Its pioneering role in this sector is further underlined by over 270 projects providing locally generated energy, more than 1500 communal heating/power stations or micro power plants, and around 6000 photovoltaic power plants.
Paul-Lincke-Ufer runs along the Landwehr Canal in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin
IMAGE: visitBerlin / Dagmar Schwelle
Berlin set to be climate-neutral by 2050
The climate protection targets and the strategies to achieve them – above all, the energy and climate protection programme – are anchored in the Berlin Energy Turnaround Act. This provides a statutory framework for Berlin's goal of being climate-neutral by 2050.
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