Sustainable Frankfurt

October 25, 2019

IMAGE: Frankfurt Convention Bureau

Frankfurt is a city of contradictions. On one hand, it’s a cosmopolitan, modern metropolis: Germany’s financial capital, with one of Europe’s largest international airports, 14 of Germany’s 15 tallest skyscrapers and a dense, racially diverse population. On the other hand, it’s also home to one of the world’s largest urban forests, and the largest inner-city forest in Germany: the Stadtwald, or ‘city forest’.


The site of human habitation since at least 3000 BC, Frankfurt was once a Roman garrison town, and later, as ‘Franconovurt’ ('City of the Franks'), it was mentioned by Charlemagne’s biographer in 794 CE as the meeting place for the Emperor’s ecclesiastical council of Franconian noblemen. Frankfurt’s position on the Main River, not far from the Main’s confluence with the Rhine, made the city an important trading post and by the 12th century, the Frankfurt Fair attracted traders from the Mediterranean to the Baltic. By 1356, it was the official site for the coronation of German kings and emperors; the last German emperor was crowned there in 1792. With a loss of status, and no longer seen as a centre for military defence, Frankfurt didn’t have a need for fortifications. In 1804, work began to demolish them and transform the resulting empty land into lush parkland for the city's inhabitants—proving that a love of green space isn’t new for Frankfurt.


About 80% of the centre was destroyed by Allied bombing raids in 1944, and much of the beautiful, Gothic-styled, half-timbered architecture of the Old Town was lost. But the green spaces remain, and modern day Frankfurt is committed to preserving them as part of its overall dedication to sustainability. The city’s green spaces are one of its principal attractions as a sustainable destination for events, meetings, incentive stays and holidays.







IMAGE: Frankfurt Convention Bureau

A walk on the wild side


The Stadtwald is part of Frankfurt's green belt and 3,866 hectares, of its 5,785 lie within the city limits. But it’s far from Frankfurt’s only green space. About half of the city‘s urban area consists of natural landscapes in one form or another, from urban parks and forests to palm trees and sand dunes, and around 80 percent of the city's population live within 300 metres of a public green space.


Residents and visitors are encouraged to explore these areas via the 550 km network of regional park trails that connect over 300 attractive destinations. Eventually, trails of over 1,250 km will connect with public transport and stretch from Frankfurt's GreenBelt, the heart of the regional park, west to Rüdesheim, north to Wetterau, south to Hessischer Ried and east to Kinzigtal, making nature and attractions easy to reach by foot or bicycle. Frankfurt’s circular 68 km Green Belt trail leads you along the Nidda, then through Oberrad’s herb gardens and the adjoining city forest, passing comic art and even the Green Sauce Monument along the way (yes, you read that right; the Green Sauce Monument). Other paths connect zoos, wetlands and historic towpaths, meaning there’s an excursion for everyone, whatever their interest.


Even in the more bustling areas of Frankfurt, you’ll still see green spaces and wildlife. Thanks to the Green Space Office Frankfurt am Main, flower and grass meadows have been planted on verges and traffic islands to combat insect poverty, attracting bees, butterflies and other insects. Meanwhile, a new Museum of Bees opened at the Museum Angewandte Kunst (Museum of Applied Arts) in September 2019. In the museum’s gardens, visitors can admire and learn about the ten bee colonies installed there which roam freely through the artist-designed exhibition spaces, which focus on social and ecological themes. Hotels are beginning to support bees too, and guests at the Jumeirah Frankfurt hotel can enjoy homemade honey from the 60,000 busy bees on the hotel’s rooftop.


Bienenretter, which began as a non-profit educational project of the FINE Frankfurt Institute for Sustainable Development, has won multiple sustainability awards and has the motto "not only talking, but also acting”. It does the talking via education, and the doing via urban beekeeping at Bienenretter-Garten Frankfurt-Sachsenhausen (its learning centre). It also has a social enterprise arm, Bienenretter Manufaktur, which sells bee-friendly seed mixtures that encourage biological diversity.


Urban gardeners help bees too. The Frankfurter Neuer Garten (New Frankfurt Garden) aims to protect natural habitats in urban areas and promotes neighbourly interaction, self-sufficiency, climate protection and bee protection, as well as offering educational workshops and guided tours.



IMAGE: Frankfurt Convention Bureau

Sustainable Living in Frankfurt


Sustainable construction is key in Frankfurt. A new district, Gateway Gardens, is a ‘Global Business Village’ certified by the DGNB German Sustainable Building Council. It was designed with green spaces and sustainability at its heart, with numerous rooftop gardens, a central park and a 8,000-hectare nature reserve right outside. The district wants to become the country’s first e-city and already has a charging station for electric cars, a bicycle rental station, and access to the cycle path network of the greater Rhine-Main metro area.


PIER F, launched in 2015 as an educational and meeting place for sustainability initiatives and innovation, is a project of the renowned Frankfurt architectural platform AiD – Architektur im Dialog. Its focus lies on climate-friendly building. Managing Director Susanne Petry, who is on the board of the Environmental Forum Rhine-Main and on the Sustainability Committee of the Frankfurt Chamber of Industry and Commerce, has created offices and co-working-spaces for creatives, preferentially from the field of sustainability, plus showroom-areas called ‘The Green Space’, where companies and initiatives present green products and concepts.


There’s also ‘The Green Salon’, a meeting space for lectures, workshops, exhibitions and get-togethers dealing with all aspects of sustainability rather than just sustainable construction. The network of partners now involved in PIER F includes municipal authorities; hundreds of architecture firms and planning offices, designers and developers; universities; institutions like Architektenkammer Hessen and Deutsches Architekturmuseum; renowned producers of green products; and sustainability-oriented companies.


The project’s other initiatives include a sustainability magazine, annual Sustainability Festivals and guided tours, which were developed with the city’s energy department: KLIMAtours, specialist tours to sustainable buildings and projects in Frankfurt and Green City Tours, 2 hour city walks and bike tours of Frankfurt districts for specialists and interested citizens. Frankfurt has the most energy efficient residential and office buildings in Germany and these tours pass on the city’s expertise to professionals from home and abroad.



IMAGE: Frankfurt Convention Bureau

There’s also support for socially and environmentally responsible lifestyles. Lust auf besser Leben (‘desire for a better life’) is a non-profit company that wants to make the global sustainability targets an everyday reality by 2030. It promotes local, sustainable action in business and society, through a web guide for sustainable living and shopping, campaigns in the areas of neighbourhood and regional development, and by developing projects on topics such as inclusion, climate protection, ‘plastic-free" and ‘Good Growth’, building a consulting and education portfolio with a special focus on participatory processes.


The ShoutOutLoud initiative also promotes local sustainability through small projects in the hope that the commitment will have long-term effects on society, the economy, politics and the fundamental issues facing the wider world. Their vision is a world in which we fundamentally change how we use our available resources and begin to use them in a socially inclusive and ecologically sustainable way. Their particular focus is on food waste and resource waste via their projects No Food for the Bin and No Plastic for the Bin. They also work to help refugees to settle into society and find their feet more quickly through their social contact programme, Get Together.


Shopping and eating sustainably are important here, spawning businesses and projects that focus on local, sustainable sourcing and reducing waste. Queerbeet is an online shop using refrigerated vehicles to deliver the high quality, organic products you could otherwise buy at Frankfurt’s weekly markets, such as fruit and vegetables, dairy products, vegan products, juices, wine, beer, meat, poultry, bread and almost 200 types of cheese, while EiNZIGWARE upcycles items like clothes and furniture, giving objects new life and people new opportunities. From the clothing collection to the workbench to the website and the catwalk, EiNZIGWARE is a movement focused on the ecological, creative and social, offering great upcycled products and work for those who find it difficult to gain regular employment, such as the long-term unemployed and people with disabilities or mental illness.


Particularly worthy of praise is the city’s innovative Mainbecher system, which aims to reduce disposable waste. Reusable, pollutant-free coffee cups made entirely in Germany from renewable raw materials and naturally occurring minerals can be bought at any participating cafe, canteen or petrol station and filled at a reduced price. You can either return it for a refund (very useful if you have nowhere to store of carry a reusable cup for the day) or keep it to use at the next participating venue you visit. Genius! Meanwhile, on the waste end of the cycle, #CleanFFM is a community initiative that works with sponsors and business partners to provide more waste bins and staff, plus more frequent cleaning patrols, with the aim of making Frankfurt cleaner and even more attractive.


Frankfurt also has a Transition Town group. Transition Town is an international movement started in 2005 and now represented in 50 countries, encouraging communities to work together towards a more sustainable future in their area. The association Transition Town Frankfurt am Main e. V. is working to initiate and shape a positive and sustainable change in Frankfurt in a sustainable, solidarity-based, creative, collaborative and respectful way. It runs workshops and discussion groups and gets involved in numerous green events and campaigns.



IMAGE: Frankfurt Convention Bureau

Green ways of getting to, and around, Frankfurt


While Frankfurt is easy to get to by plane—the airport is connected to 300 destinations in over 100 countries, and only an 11 minute train ride away from the city—there are greener ways to get there. Frankfurt Main Train Station is one of Germany’s busiest train stations, servicing more than 1,100 trains daily from numerous national and international destinations. You can also get there by long-distance, comfortable coach with FlixBus. The company operates low-emission buses and also offer the chance to offset emissions when buying tickets, investing your offset donation in environmentally-friendly projects.


"Once you're in Frankfurt, you'll find that it's a compact city, so almost everything is within walking distance. However, you can use the 700 ‘S-Bahn’ commuter trains that operate from the main train station, the U-bahn (nine routes of combined tram and underground lines) or local buses to take you anywhere in Frankfurt or the surrounding region. One ticket will gain you access to metro, tram and bus lines, and as the tickets are time-stamped, they don’t need to be validated.


Frankfurt’s Convention Bureau offers the Congress Ticket as well as the Congress-Combination-Ticket. They’re designed for conference organisers, their clients and their delegates, allowing them unlimited travel on Frankfurt’s public transportation systems (including services to Frankfurt airport).




IMAGE: Frankfurt Convention Bureau

You could also consider a velotaxi—one of Frankfurt’s colourful tricycles. You can find them at Frankfurt’s traffic hubs or reserve one by phone. A shuttle-service transports passengers from their hotel lobby or the port directly to the city’s attractions. And of course, you can bike! There are many places to rent a bike in Frankfurt and several bike rental companies. You can usually book a bike via an app or a phone call.


It’s not only people that are moved around the city sustainably. The City of Frankfurt, House of Logistics & Mobility (HOLM) GmbH, Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences (UAS), IHK Frankfurt am Main, Klima-Bündnis and VGF have developed the LastMileTram concept, using micro-depots and logistics box trailers (bicycle trailers) to distribute the parcels after they have been unloaded from the tram. This idea came from Klaus Grund and Herbert Riemann, who received a grant from the Energy Department of the City of Frankfurt as part of the Climate Protection Ideas Competition. Hermes Germany GmbH is also part of the pilot project and during a larger trial earlier this year, two extra trams per day (without passengers) carrying two boxes of 50 parcels each ran between the Gutleut depot and the exhibition loop before being loaded onto bicycles and delivered by couriers.


IMAGE: Frankfurt Convention Bureau

Choosing Frankfurt for your sustainable event or stay


Sustainability isn’t a new concept in Frankfurt. The city was a founding member of the Climate Alliance of European Cities in 1990 and in 2014, it was shortlisted for the title of European Green Capital; in its bid for the title, Frankfurt did not present itself as a green idyll, but rather as a creative city that is optimally networked worldwide and can sweep other cities along with it. It lost the title to Copenhagen, but was named Most Sustainable City in the Sustainable Cities Index 2015.


Frankfurt’s MICE industry is an ardent supporter of sustainability and the Convention Bureau can help you identify the venues and services providers you need to create a green meeting or event, covering the areas of mobility, energy and climate, resources, catering and communication.


Their recommended sustainable event venues include Kap Europa, the most recent addition to Messe Frankfurt; the world's largest trade fair, congress and event organiser. Kap Europa was built in 2014 using sustainable principles and is conveniently situated in Frankfurt’s Europa District, right next to the Frankfurt fairgrounds and the Skyline Plaza shopping and wellness centre. It comfortably accommodates up to 2,400 persons and was the world’s first congress venue to receive a platinum certificate from the German Sustainable Building Society (DGNB). The building’s 1,000 m² roof is covered with greenery, improving its CO2 footprint, and the building uses 100% green energy, water-saving plumbing fixtures, LED lighting, intelligent lighting controllers, energy-efficient technical equipment, and wherever possible, regional, organic produce.


Haus am Dom is officially part of the diocese of Limburg, but makes an excellent event venue. It has several well-equipped conference and function rooms that can accommodate events for up to 250 people, offering modern technology and a professional service team. Event organisers can also use the rooftop terrace, which provides a unique and stylish location for events for up to 150 people and offers amazing views of Frankfurt’s downtown landmarks. First-class catering services are provided by the venue’s own restaurant. Haus am Dom has been European EMAS II certified and uses nuclear-free green electricity, water-saving plumbing fixtures and energy-efficient lighting and technology.


There are many green conference hotels too, reducing travel by offering accommodation and conference facilities in one. The Villa Orange is Frankfurt´s first (and at present, only) organic hotel, certified organic in 2008 and now Eco-Hotels Certified too. This elegant, centrally-located hotel offers 38 rooms with organic cotton bedding and allergy-friendly shower products, plus a library and two professionally equipped conference rooms, each with capacity for up to 40 people. Public transport links are close by and breakfast can be served in the breakfast room or on the terrace. The hotel practises sustainable management, monitoring and reducing its water and energy usage, purchasing green electricity, using recycled paper and sourcing regionally wherever possible.


The Scandic Frankfurt Museumsufer has 293 modern, tastefully designed, large rooms, all with a desk and a laptop-sized safe with inside power outlet. As part of the Scandic group, a leader in sustainability, the hotel has a strong sustainability policy in place and an Environmental Manager, The main train station, the river bank and the Frankfurt Fair are all close by and the hotel’s breakfast offering includes Fairtrade coffee and organic options. For events, the hotel has 7 conference rooms equipped with the most up-to-date technology, the largest of which can accommodate 200 people.


After conferences and meetings, you can sample Frankfurt’s culture, history and green spaces while enjoying a sustainable meal. Gramm genau, a café without food waste or disposable plastic, is more than a café; it also has a shop offering ‘unpacked’ (i.e., free of plastic packaging) groceries, household and hygiene products, which the company also delivers to people’s homes via eco-friendly cargo-bikes. They happily fill shoppers’ own containers or ‘rent’ them a returnable container for a deposit. The owners want to activate and inspire, hoping people will discuss responsible consumption and climate protection over cake. They have tried to make the café a creative space where young and old can learn new things together, discover zero-waste tips and enjoy good food. They also run workshops on how to reduce kitchen waste in your home.


IMAGE: Frankfurt Convention Bureau

If you’re enjoying time in Frankfurt’s GreenBelt, the large nature reserve in the north of the city, it’s worth finding your way to the Tower Café Flugplatz Bonames, which offers recreation, relaxation and delicious, fresh regional produce. This café was once the flight tower for Maurice Rose Airfield. Today, the area around the Tower is being reclaimed by nature. The Tower Café - and in summer, its large terrace - combines nature and culture, offering space for exhibitions, markets and concerts. It also offers training opportunities to unskilled adults wanting to qualify as a chef or restaurant specialist.


Frankfurt has several zoos and three botanical gardens to explore, including the 22-hectare Palmengarten with its lakes, orchids, ferns and tropical trees, but if museums are more to your taste, you can head to the Museumsufer (Museum Embankment). This cluster of 12 museums grouped together on the banks of the River Main includes museums for film, art, architecture, communication and ethnography. The Museumsufer was developed in the 1980s and 1990s and the museums are either housed in patrician houses or eye-catching, purpose-built venues designed by eminent architects like O.M. Ungers and Richard Meier. There’s also the gothic cathedral and Römerberg, a quaint square with photogenic medieval houses, historic administrative buildings, a Renaissance fountain and a church.


And, of course, you can visit the family residence of the Goethe family, now a museum in honour of one of Frankfurt’s favourite sons, writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. When Goethe visited his native city for the last time in 1815, he famously told the council: "A free spirit befits a free city…..It befits Frankfurt to shine in all directions and to be active in all directions."


It seems that’s a message Frankfurt took to heart.





Book your next green meeting or event in Frankfurt and take advantage of this great city's world-class MICE services by contacting:


Frankfurt Convention Bureau

Tourismus+Congress GmbH Frankfurt am Main

Kaiserstraße 56

D-60329 Frankfurt am Main

Tel: +49 (0) 69/21 23 87 03


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