On the road to the Green City Frankfurt


Cities produce over 80 percent of the gross domestic product worldwide and are also responsible for 70 percent of all global energy consumption and CO₂ emissions. And the proportion of the population living in the cities is growing.

Frankfurt is the heart of the FrankfurtRheinMain Metropolitan Region, a financial centre, traffic hub and one of the most important Internet nodes. And Frankfurt is growing: in the past ten years the population has increased by about 75,000. The municipal area of about 248 km² is, however, extremely compact which sets specific challenges, such as creating living space for the growing population and adequate commercial areas for a productive economy, while preserving the green spaces which make the city liveable and help cope with the consequences of climate change. The city’s compactness intensifies these conflicts and, at the same time, provides an opportunity to develop and test solutions in a relatively manageable form.

What is a Green City?

Sustainable urban development calls for a balance between economic, ecological, social and cultural requirements, but not at the expense of third parties or following generations. The Green City offers living space for people and Nature and, exploiting the opportunities presented by sustainable economic activity, supports all those who would otherwise lose touch in a fast-moving city. A Green City is a lively public space where people can meet. Moving towards a Green City demands the entire know-how and creative potential of the Administration, citizens and companies. The Green City is the product of broad public debate.

Selecting a wide approach

On June 25th 2010, the Frankfurt City Council began its candicacy for the European Green Capital Award 2014/2015, in which the city was ultimately one of the three finalists. The candidacy was intended to accelerate, strategically and communicatively, Frankfurt’s development to a more sustainable city, to a Green City.

Whereas the first stage of the application process was based on twelve environmental indicators such as air, noise, energy efficiency and local transport, the Frankfurt-Green-City process was more broadly structured from the outset. It was clear that the individual issues were closely linked. Planning and projects which only focus on individual topics can lead to conflicts with other sectors or leave synergies unused.

The departments involved formulated four, from 2012 five, “subject clusters“, in which Frankfurt has recognised strengths but in which the city would also be facing major challenges if it is to prosper and offer its inhabitants a high quality of life: “Economy and Consumption“, “Planning and Construction“, “Education“, “Climate and Open Spaces“ and “Mobility“. This exceptional scenario shows that, while many elements in the subject cluster converge, all the nodes are connected. This approach is intended to meet the challenges of complex cause-effect relationships and develop more comprehensive answers.

Since 2010, basic conceptual planning has been initiated in the subject clusters of the Masterplan Industrie, the Inner-city Concept, the Masterplan 100 % Climate Protection and Mobility. The integrated urban development concept will have incorporated many of these concepts by 2017 and, with broad public participation, will have developed a blueprint for Frankfurt 2030.

A number of prototypes could be developed from the projects presented here, which pick up the different threads of sustainable urban development. The arrows in the project portraits show the various dimensions in which these projects are contributing.

Cooperating in new formats

The Green-City process offers a meaningful framework to counteract the marginalisation of individual projects. Hallmarks of the process are interdisciplinary cooperation, communication and the participation of the urban community.

The candidacy for European Green Capital Award created institutionalised interdepartmental working structures. A Steering Committee, composed of the Heads of the Environment, Economy, Planning, Traffic and, more recently, Education Departments, agreed on priorities for  the coordination and communication of the overall process. The Green Capital Award working group, which became the editorial group, provides the multi- and interdisciplinary material for the widest variety of communication forms.

In the Sustainability Forum, ninteen prominent figures from the economic and scientific fields, institutions and associations in Frankfurt formulate their views on the tasks and goals of sustainable urban development. There are regular evening events with structured consultation between the members and the city parliament. The member’s statements, which describe the functions future sustainability reporting should perform (see page 20), can be read in the members’ profiles.

The Green-City process tested new forms of interdepartmental and interdisciplinary cooperation e.g. in specially-created working or project groups. The projects presented in this report offer numerous examples of interdisciplinary analyses and possible solutions.

Understanding and discussing

The submission of the candidacy for the Green Capital Award was also presented on the new Internet platform www.frankfurt-greencity.de. This documents and communicates the Green-City process and has been augmented by an extremely popular calendar on sustainability topics and the “Living Sustainably“ section which offers alternatives to entrenched purchasing decisions, patterns of behaviour and mentalities.

In a media partnership, Hessischer Rundfunk has offered eleven hr-information events on central issues in the Green-City process since January 2012. The panel discussions with city councillors and specialists offer wide scope for debate.

Involving the residents

Most of the projects presented here foresee intensive and broad public participation. A wide range of formats was developed and tested in order to assimilate the know-how and views of the specialists, the inhabitants and residents. These included discussions, forums, expert advisory boards, questionnaires or planning and themed workshops and the new portal, www.frankfurtdeinestadt.de, which offers a platform in the integrated urban development concept for open dialogue with residents.

Developing communication and evaluation

As in the candidacy for the European Green Capital Award, future sustainability reporting should be used for communication purposes and also to allow an evaluation of the steps towards becoming the Green City Frankfurt, as well as a comparison with other cities. See more on.

Sustainability Forum

The members of the Sustainability Forum bring their know-how, experience and suggestions into play as a „Sounding Board“ in the Frankfurt Green-City process. They have dealt with Frankfurt-Green-City coverage at two Soiree events. You can read them in their profiles. (in German).

Event series

So far, eleven hr-iNFO events on the central themes of the Green City process offered a wide range of topics for discussion with city councilors as well as subject matter experts. Here you can find a record of the events (in German).