The Nudge Explores Circular Cities Tour 2015 is on a trip through Europe from May 11 to May 21, collecting great Circle Economy examples. Our 5 ambassadors report their findings. This is one of the projects they visited.
Written by Nudge Ambassador Thomas Hermans
15 May 2015
Today was our first day in Hamburg! One of our main themes here is sustainable building. This city is located at the Elbe and close to the North Sea which means it will be be affected by rising sea levels. Building with an eye on the future is therefore important for the future of this city.
Climate adaptation was key in redeveloping Hamburg’s city center. 40% additional land has been added to its city center with more than 6000 homes, quite something! However, putting all this developments behind a big dike would be a pity. Therefore, it was decided to build the ‘new’ center one level up. This means that the Elbe can rise several meters without damaging the buildings. There is also a lower level, with terraces and the information center, which is allowed to overflow and absorb excess water during storms.
Other than merely preparing for climate change, Hamburg is also contributing to the climate fight. There is new a strict set of rules on isolation and the buildings have high-energy efficiency labels. Being affected by climate change has made Hamburg’s urban developers set strict rules on isolation. In addition to that, making areas with high density and many facilities reduces the distances people need to travel, thereby making cars less necessary.
Sustainable building is also an important theme in the recently developed quarter Wilhelmsburg. We saw buildings with water heaters on solar energy, with sun reflectors to use sunlight to lighten homes, and heat absorbing curtains which release their heat when it gets colder. We also visited a fully isolated house. This house passed the ‘door test’: when all doors and windows are closed, a small wind turbine was placed to check with infrared if there were any heating leaks. Very thorough! The only downside, the isolation material proves to be quite unsustainable itself…
Maybe nature is a still bit smarter, as our tour guide pointed out with the witty remark that “even the trees are useful for reducing our energy needs. Their leaves cover the sunshine when it’s hot, and fall off when it’s dark and cold”.