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New German Community Models Car-free Living


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This article seems to fall in line with many of the recent discussions regarding environmental issues...


Published on Thursday, December 21, 2006 by the Christian Science Monitor

New German Community Models Car-free Living

by Isabelle de Pommereau



It's pickup time at the Vauban kindergarten here at the edge of the Black Forest, but there's not a single minivan waiting for the kids. Instead, a convoy of helmet-donning moms - bicycle trailers in tow - pedal up to the entrance.


Welcome to Germany's best-known environmentally friendly neighborhood and a successful experiment in green urban living. The Vauban development - 2,000 new homes on a former military base 10 minutes by bike from the heart of Freiburg - has put into practice many ideas that were once dismissed as eco-fantasy but which are now moving to the center of public policy.



The Vauban neighborhood in Freiburg, Germany, is being developed as a model sustainable district on the site of a former military base. Many of the houses produce more energy than they use. Other buildings are heated by a neighborhood-scale combined heat and power station burning wood chips. (Photo by Jayson Antonoff)


With gas prices well above $6 per gallon across much of the continent, Vauban is striking a chord in Western Europe as communities encourage people to be less car-dependent. Just this week, Paris unveiled a new electric tram in a bid to reduce urban pollution and traffic congestion.


"Vauban is clearly an offer for families with kids to live without cars," says Jan Scheurer, an Australian researcher who has studied the Vauban model extensively. "It was meant to counter urban sprawl - an offer for families not to move out to the suburbs and give them the same, if better quality of life. And it is very successful."


There are numerous incentives for Vauban's 4,700 residents to live car-free: Carpoolers get free yearly tramway passes, while parking spots - available only in a garage at the neighborhood's edge - go for €17,500 (US$23,000). Forty percent of residents have bought spaces, many just for the benefit of their visiting guests.


As a result, the car-ownership rate in Vauban is only 150 per 1,000 inhabitants, compared with 430 per 1,000 inhabitants in Freiburg proper.


In contrast, the US average is 640 household vehicles per 1,000 residents. But some cities - such as Davis, Calif., where 17 percent of residents commute by bike - have pioneered a car-free lifestyle that is similar to Vauban's model.


Read the full article here: http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/1221-07.htm

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I forgot what the community was called but late on PBS one night I saw a comminity in the US that was almost complete(it has to be well finished by now) which would house maybe 500 people. The houses were made as efficient as possible with on site water recycling and special energy effiecient heat and AC. Mostly all the power was attained by wind and panels...the only thing that had to be substituted with more energy were the ovens and dryers which many people shared to save space. They also had a system for shared cars...maybe 1 car for every 4 families....they were all hybrids other than a few trucks which could be borrowed by anyone but less often

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