1. Energy Transformation – Are we Making Progress?

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    by Teagan Wernicke

    Everyone involved in the “Energy Transformation in Dialogue” project has been very busy over the past few months – from making new educational videos to conducting tours and even being invited to speak on TV shows. Keep reading to learn more about what we’ve been up to and how you can get involved with our project in the future.

    The project Energy Transformation in Dialogue, which started in the summer of 2018, works towards involving community members and groups such as city administrators, local businesses, students, and organizations in the process of a sustainable energy transition in Germany. If you haven’t heard of us before, you can read more about the project here. But for now, let’s take a look at what has been happening so far in 2020!

    In February, we released a new educational video called “Energy Transformation under Investigation”, which you can watch here. The video is only in German, but an adaptation in English as a comic strip will soon be available to download from our website. In the video, you can learn about how scientists use indicators to assess whether goals related to various aspects of sustainability and the energy transition will be met by 2020 and 2050. It’s exciting to see how scientific research can become understandable for everyone by using a simple traffic light system to show progress. We hope you enjoy the video, and feel free to give us your feedback and ideas for new videos!

    Also in February, the organization Viva con Agua hosted a large event, inviting club members from various cities in the region to Karlsruhe. Viva con Agua aims to foster the global provisioning of clean water for everyone. Against this background, we took this opportunity to lead participants on a tour through the Oststadt region of Karlsruhe, discussing topics such as the sustainable development of the energy system. If you’re interested, you can read more about the tour here.

    At the end of January, we participated in a roundtable discussion on the topic of district heating in Karlsruhe that was organized by Fossil Free Karlsruhe. Aside from us, representatives from the city council, energy providers (Stadtwerke and EnBW), and businesses such as the German Agency for Geothermal Energy (Deutsche Erdwärme) and the Karlsruhe Energy and Climate Protection Agency (Karlsruher Energie- und Klimaschutzagentur) as well as other community groups were involved in the event. Currently, Karlsruhe has an extensive district heating system that provides heat for households and buildings around the city. Up to now, the heat source for this system has been waste heat that is recovered from power plants that are fueled by coal and natural gas. However, as fossil fuels are being phased out and these power plants will no longer be used in the near future, an alternative source of heat for the district heating system needs to be found. This topic was discussed extensively at the roundtable event. After much deliberation, the participants suggested using biogas as an alternative heat source. This gas could be produced from biological waste and compost collected from households around the city. 

    In related news, we’re currently creating another educational video that will clearly explain how district heating systems operate as well as various options for renewable energy sources through which the heat can be provided in order to make the systems more sustainable. This and another video about the role of sustainable development and justice in the energy sector, specifically the topic of closing the gender pay gap for employees in this sector, will be released soon. Keep an eye out for new videos on our website!

    “Sonnenstand” is the name of another project on which we are currently collaborating with the organization Fossil Free Karlsruhe and their initiative Faktor2. For this project, we are working to increase the amount of solar energy produced in Karlsruhe by encouraging more citizens to install solar panels (photovoltaic systems). We’re using the Oststadt neighborhood as an experimental space. In the future, we plan to host an event where experts will inform community members about topics such as leasing your roof, installing solar panels yourself, and much more. By providing this unique opportunity for people like you to meet and discuss with experts in the solar energy industry, we hope that more people will be encouraged to produce solar power from their own home.  

    Last but not least, one of our project leaders, Dr. Volker Stelzer, was on TV at the beginning of March. The television show “Planet Wissen” (Planet Knowledge) invited Volker Stelzer on the air as one of two experts to share his knowledge about the progress Germany has made so far in implementing the energy transition. Though the program is only available in German, you can watch the entire episode here to learn more about how Germany is working to achieve the goals of the energy transition as quickly as possible.

    As you can see, we’ve been very busy over the past few months involving members of the community in the energy transition through online communication, tours, and group discussions. Stay up-to-date with our upcoming events by visiting our website or following us on Instagram. Coming soon: we will provide a virtual tour on our Instagram where you can learn more about energy transformation!

    A huge thank you to everyone who has been involved in our events, and we hope you participate again in the future! In the meantime, stay healthy!


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    A new project starts in summer 2018, which will go along with us in the next years. In this article you will get to know what it is about, what you can expect and how you can bring forward your own ideas.

    Storage technologies, renewable energies and joint energy grids – energy systems become more complex in future. The electricity in the socket doesn’t have to come from a power plant anymore. Do we all become so called prosumers, who produce electricity themselves and live in smart homes?

    The energy transition is coming, but the changes give rise to several questions. This huge and ambitious project can’t be realized without public understanding and involvement. Everyone has to be informed about it in order that we can pull together. This is why an exchange of knowledge about the energy transition with contribution of district future will be started.

    As a result of the experience we gained in the real-world labs district future and real-world lab 131 during the last years, we were able to acquire this new project!

    Welcome Energy Transformation in Dialogue!

    First this new project (called “energy dialogue” in short) becomes a part of district future; later it will be a mainstay for the Karlsruhe Transformation Centre for Sustainable Futures and Cultural Change (KAT), which we described here already. The funding for energy dialogue is guaranteed for 30 months. After 2 years the project’s success is investigated and the time period will – hopefully – be extended to 4 years.

    The aim of the project is clear: We want to make the transformation of the German energy system intelligible to all in a new way and create new possibilities for participation at the same time. Therefore we will organise this dialogue, provide information and bring different actors together.

    So far, so good, but how does that work in concrete terms?

    It is not yet set in stone, but you can already look forward to plenty of videos with information and explanations, a tour about sustainable energy, a handful of scenario workshops, some transdisciplinary and transformative project seminars, real-world experiments and one citizen’s forum on sustainable energy. We don’t want a one-way communication. We want to impart knowledge, but on the same time gather your ideas and bring them in the scientific world.

    One workshop could be for example for low-income households, where we get to know your expectations and fears related to the energy transition and work out suggestions for improvement together.

    Different activities – different target groups!

    With this project we extent our target group to the whole city of Karlsruhe and beyond. Some parts can be used in the whole German-speaking world. Nevertheless some activities will still take place in Karlsruhe and the eastern town.

    The target group is as diverse as the activities. The different subprojects can address both the public and specific groups of players, for example representatives of the energy industry, players of the civil society or consumers’ associations, as well as teachers, energy advisors, students, early adopters, and so on.

    Do district future and the future space stay?

    Does that mean we realigned and are not present in the district anymore? No, don’t worry. As described above – the project energy dialogue becomes a part of district future now and builds a mainstay of KAT from 2020 on. Like that it will provide us even more opportunities to encourage a sustainable development and die energy transition together with you, the citizens of the eastern town. The future space will also be available as is usual for group meetings, events and communication.

    When does it start?

    The planning and preparation for the variety of activities start now. Next year, in 2019, several plans will be realised. Until then you need to be patient, but we will keep you informed!

    You can participate!

    Do you have an idea for a project or an activity, which we should not forget? It doesn’t matter, if you are a single person or want to get involved with your group – form the energy dialogue with us together! If you are interested, contact

    We look forward to an interesting time with you and energy dialogue!

  3. Following the traces of the Urban Transition Lab 131 – Part II Mobility

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    We continue our blog series about the Urban Transition Lab 131. Since 2015 when the project was launched, scientists and citizens have the possibility to work together in order to develop and test measures for a (more) sustainable urban development. In the previous article we talked about the activities of the project Sustainable Consumption. This second part of the series continues with an exciting and much discussed topic of sustainability research: mobility!

    An article by Vanessa Kügler & Sarah Meyer-Soylu. Translation by Sophie Dauenhauer

    Part II: Being mobile and human while moving around the Oststadt

    Mobility is getting more and more important in our lifestyle. Thanks to smartphone and internet flat rate we can be contacted anytime and anywhere. For sure! We jump in the car or on the train and quickly arrive at our destination. It’s a matter of course, isn’t it? We are always on the move and always mobile – no matter if we want it or not. Our little digital helpers are an integral part of our daily routine. Man is a creature of habits – or rather a creature of laziness?

    And also on our everyday stroll through the city we still tend to our routine and get annoyed about being stuck in the traffic instead of thinking about alternative means of transportation or (more) sustainable means of travel. Wouldn’t it be high time for us to be aware of our mobility behaviour and the consequences for our health and the environment? This question is related to the crucial questions of the project “Mobilitätsaspekte” (mobility aspects) within the Urban Transition Lab 131: How can I move around the city and cause as little harm to the environment as possible? How can we make mobility socially fair and human?

    Being individually mobile

    There are countless aspects that can be grouped under the keyword mobility. But where to start?

    “Mobility in the city is too often harmful to the environment and nerve-racking. We think about a mobility concept which relies on bicycles, smart traffic management systems, and collective means of transport.”

    (Goal of the key topic Mobile city)

    The focus of the activities in the project “Mobility aspects” was on the area everyday mobility with its three key action points:

    • Sustainable organisation of daily transporting
    • Integration of bicycles and especially cargo bikes in our daily mobile routines
    • Research of central traffic junctions (less traffic, more quality of stay!)

    How we organise our trips and which means of transport we use is not only a product of our habits, it of course depends heavily on individual factors: e.g. physical fitness, age or the demand of transporting things like for example a pram. Additionally to these factors, our choice of the means of transportation is influenced by external factors like for example condition and routing of existing bikeways or road closures in connection with provided information about the possibilities of reaching the destination.

    Organising the mobile daily life: Welcome to the travel agency for your everyday life!

    How is it possible to satisfy various mobility needs of different user groups and coordinate them in a sustainable way?

    To create a point of contact for the citizens of the Oststadt where they also can question or improve their mobility behaviour, the Urban Transition Lab 131 cooperated with the Institute for Transport (IfV). Together with this institution, that belongs to the KIT, the so-called travel agency for everyday life was established. Since the beginning of 2016, the citizens had the possibility to use the regular and free mobility consultancy, where they could get information on local mobility services and apps. This consultation should help finding more efficient and sustainable ways of travelling that nevertheless meet the individual requirements. The mobility consultancy was established in reaction to a suggestion that was made at the citizen’s forum and which was realized later than expected. Everyone involved had a lot of staying power. When the time of the opening had come at last, we unfortunately had to realize that the offer wasn’t accepted as well as we hoped. We use this experience to suit our coming project more to the citizens and their needs!

    In order to make the citizens more familiar with the topic mobility and alternative means of transportation, the exposition “Von hier nach da” (from here to there) by the youth section of the environmental association BUND came to the Future Space. This touring exhibition gave the Oststadt some inspiring ideas and visions about a new mobility culture. Movie nights and presentations created a relaxing atmosphere for exchanging ideas and experiences.

    You don’t always need four wheels: Come on and hop on your bike!

    Car traffic – rolling or parking – dominates the quarter. This remark by the citizens was the decisive factor for an emphasis on the topic bike. In addition to that came our motivation to improve the situation for the bicycle traffic in the Oststadt and to motivate people to use their bikes more often.

    You don’t always need a car to transport bigger items – that’s a fact we have long been convinced of and which is why the topic carrier bicycle has been a part of our project since the beginning. Our attempts to receive funding for this topic haven’t been successful. All the more, we are pleased that people are sharing the idea throughout Karlsruhe and even established a rental system for carrier bikes: Lastenkarle. Only a stone’s throw away from the Future Space, you can find a carrier bike that can be rented by anybody!

    The Urban Transition Lab 131 as well owns a carrier bike which we take with us to different events to transport heavy and bulky equipment from A to B without producing any emissions!

    By taking part at the PARK(ing) Day Karlsruhe we want to draw attention to the critical relationship between car traffic and townscape- especially the enormous amount of space that is used for car parking and the question: what if we these parking areas were used in other ways?

    Matching with our focus on bicycles, a student thesis on the topic daily bicycle use in the Oststadt – especially bicycle parking – was written. With the help of surveys – online and face-to-face – more than 100 citizens of the Oststadt were asked about their personal bicycle use. The questionnaire reviewed, among other things:

    • How often the citizens are using their bicycles and what may be the reason for them to not using it (especially the car drivers)
    • What kind of measures would be needed to make them use the bicycle more often in the future
    • Where and how the citizens of the Oststadt park their bikes and what kind of problems this way of parking can cause.

    You want to read more about it? No problem! You find the link to the thesis (PDF) here and at the end of the article.

    In connection with the thesis and to further sensitize for the topic bicycling and bike parking in the city, a public talk was held at the District Future regular’s table in the Oststadt. Another part of the evening was a discussion about the results of the survey and the derived recommendations for action.

    Mobility as a model

    How does the closing of a street or the usage of a shared space effect an urban quarter? To be able to answer such questions, the Urban Transition Lab 131-Team used an already existing traffic model of the Oststadt to make interactions of the traffic streams visible and comprehensible and to derive scenarios.

    Particular attention was paid to the central traffic hub at Gottesauer Platz. In order to improve the quality of stay and to meet the citizen’s wishes regarding area design and the parking situation, redesign measures for this place were developed. In another master thesis, concrete upgrading plans for the Gottesauer Platz were worked out. Are you curious? You find the link to the thesis here and at the end of the article.

    By simulating the traffic, it was possible to create an up-to-date picture of the congestion. However, one challenge became increasingly clear to the scientists: the many construction sites that are present throughout Karlsruhe. With the construction of the new underground line and the related line blockades and diversions, it is effectively impossible calculating the actual traffic in the area after the completion of the construction work. This means the absence of reliable data that makes it difficult to assess interactions and prevents the enforcement of precise measures.

    What comes next?

    How do we proceed with the former results? At the public discussion and presentation on 27 June 2016 in the Future Space, we presented our results and received a lot of suggestions for further work. In 2018, the topic mobility will stay on our agenda! Depending on the funding, we will even give stronger emphasis on mobility and work on it together with the topics nutrition, consumption and climate protection.

    We are looking for you and your ideas! You want to share your thoughts and actions on sustainability? We are happy to help implementing your project ideas. Just contact us (Sarah Meyer-Soylu is your contact partner: or visit us during the opening hours in the Future Space.

    Curious? You can read on here (in German):

  4. Bye bye plastic bottles – Karlsruhe’s Future Space becomes part of the “Refill” campaign

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    From now on the Future Space for sustainability and science (Zukunftsraum) in Karlsruhe – Oststadt is an official “Refill” station and part of the German “Refill” movement. With the slogan “Avoid plastic waste / Drink tap water / Refill your water bottle”, the campaign draws attention to our society’s vast use of plastic and the  environmental pollution resulting from it. Moreover, the initiative wants to show that environmentally friendly alternatives do exist. The solution is simple: waste prevention.

    Some shops, pharmacies, cafes or offices already participate. And now also the “Future Space” supports this new label: A small sticker at doors or windows indicates that thirsty passers-by can refill their water bottles with tap water for free. Refilling instead of buying bottled water is the simple and yet effective approach to reduce plastic waste. But why?

    The problem of producing plastic waste

    In (too) many cases plastic waste is not properly disposed of but released into the environment endangering our nature. It is a vicious circle: First it is dropped in the streets, later the wind blows it into rivers, from where it easily gets into the sea. The environmental pollution reached a new all-time high. In 2015, plastic consumption in Western European countries amounted to 136 kg per head, while in 1980 it was only 40 kilograms (see Statista). The German environmental organisation “Deutsche Umwelthilfe” states that the number of plastic bottles sold in Germany each day (!) amounts to 46 million. In many – for example Asian – countries, infrastructures for waste recycling are still missing. As a result, a large number of plastic waste ends up in the ocean – which causes numerous negative effects. We all know about dramatic pictures of garbage paths in the sea, rubbish-strewn beaches and birds that are perishing, because of mistaking plastic particles for food.
    Microorganisms are not able to degrade plastics completely. The particles become smaller, but never decompose: The remnants are called microplastic. According to the Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt), one plastic bottle takes 450 years to decompose. Just to let you know: Banana peels and paper bags only need approximately six weeks for the same process…

    Plastic waste is everywhere – and harmful for humans and the environment

    The visible amount of waste represents a very small part of the refuse problem only. The microplastics settle in the ecosystems – for example in sediments. In this way, they also reach the deep sea – which is inaccessible to humans. Sea animals such as seashells or plankton consume the microplastics via food and accumulate the particles in their muscles and organs. Through the food chain, the plastic enters the human body. However, its impacts on the health of humans and animals are not fully known yet.
    Moreover, plastic particles are often extremely small and light causing them to be scattered widely in the ocean. Melanie Bergman, biologist and scientist in the field of deep sea research at the Alfred-Wegener-Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Marine and Polar Research, recently called the deep sea a final repository for plastics. According to her, all parts of the sea are already affected by this problem. Large amounts of plastic can be found in the deep sea, the Antarctic, the Arctic and on remote islands. This was currently confirmed by a team of researchers – led by the British Polar Researcher Pen Hadow – which returned from its exhibition to the Arctic. Bergmann estimates the amount of plastic which can be found in the deep sea as a hundred to a thousand times higher than the amount that is visible on the water surface.
    The German organisation for environment and nature conservation (BUND) has also pointed out that some of the harmful additives, like plasticizers, stabilizers or flame retardants are not permanently bound to the plastics and can be gradually released into the environment and the human body.

    Plastic fasting – Let’s start with the water bottle!

    So what are we supposed to do? The “Refill” campaign promotes a (more) plastic-free lifestyle and starts at an essential point: drinking water – our most important daily product. In Germany, tap water is equal to drinking water. So, basically you can get water everywhere, right out of the tap. Why do we need plastic bottles then? You can easily contribute to the reduction of plastic waste every day – just by giving up buying water in plastic bottles and saying yes to the tap. Precycling is a trend. In this spirit: come and try some tap water in the Future Space – the door is wide open for anyone who is thirsty!


    Further Links

    Refill Germany

    BUND – Tips to avoid plastic waste is everyday life – Avoiding plastic: 30 tips for everyday

    BUND – Shopping guide microplastics

  5. Open air living room

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    Recovering from everday stress and routine, talking to your neighbor and experiencing the life on the doorstep: bring life to public spaces with a living room suit in front of your home. Make it individual – have a break! The intervention takes place on the street and squares in the neigborhood Oststadt in Karlsruhe. It is an activity of the District Future project within the framework of the sustainability days 2014 of the federal state of Baden-Würrtemberg.

    Your open air living room

    The District Future project cordially invites all citizen of the Oststadt neigborhood in Karlsruhe and of course everyone else interested in participating to arrange an open air living room (“Freiluftwohnzimmer”) in public space on July 12th 2014. Bring chairs and tables, flowers and cake, and other things to design a living room suit in front of your house. Talk to your neigbors and passersby. Invite them to you open air living room and get them to know. Take a break from everyday life.

    Where and when? 

    The interverntion takes place on July 12th 2014 and starts at 2 pm right on your doorstep in the streets and on the squares of the Oststadt neighborhood in Karlsruhe. This afternoon, the District Future team will be cycling around in order to visit you. The team brings coloured bows free of charge to make your living room suit more visible and get more attention. Alternatively,  you can pick up a bow at Café GOLD (Ludwig-Wilhelm-Straße 12, 76131 Karlsruhe) as of now.

    Map your open air living room

    You can map your open air living room in the overview map following. This makes sure that those interested in visiting you intervention can find it easily.

    Please note

    Take care of others on the streets, e.g. pedestrians and families with buggies. Leave the place of your open air living room in the same state as you found it when you started.

    Further information

    Flyer  (German)

    Facebook Event (German)

    Nachhaltig handeln – the offiziel website of the N!Tage Baden-Württemberg (German)

    Nachhaltigkeitstage Baden-Württemberg beim KIT Zukunftscampus (German)



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MailChimp's privacy policy can be found at Comments For the comments function on this website, apart from your comment, information on the time of the creation of your comment, your email address and the username you choose will be stored. User name, date and comment are visible on the website. The comments and the connected data (e.g. IP address) will be stored and stay on our website until the commented content has been deleted completely or if the comments have to be deleted for legal reasons (e.g. insulting comments). The storage of comments is processed exclusively on the basis of your consent (Art. 6 Paragraph 1 GDPR). The legality of the data processing processes carried out up to the revocation remains unaffected by the revocation. Social media plugins using the '2Click' solution On our website, so-called 'social plugins' ('plugins') from the social media networks Facebook and Google+ and the microblogging service Twitter are used. The companies Facebook Inc., Google Inc. and Twitter Inc. provide these services (‘providers’). Facebook is operated by Facebook Inc. (1601 S. California Ave, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA),hereinafter 'Facebook'. An overview of the plugins from Facebook and what they look like can be found here: Google+ is operated by Google Inc. (1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, USA),hereinafter 'Google'. An overview of the plugins from Google and what they look like can be found here: Twitter is operated by Twitter Inc. (1355 Market St, Suite 900, San Francisco, CA 94103),hereinafter 'Twitter'. An overview of the Twitter buttons and what they look like can be found here: To increase the protection of your data during your visit to our website, the plugins are integrated into the site by means of a so-called '2Click' solution. This integration ensures that no connection is established at first with the servers of Facebook, Google and Twitter when you open a page on our website that contains such plugins. Only when you activate the plugins and grant your consent to transfer data, your browser will establish a direct connection with the Facebook, Google and Twitter servers. The content of each plugin is then transferred directly to your browser and integrated into the page. By integrating plugins, the providers receive the information that your browser has opened the specific page on our website, even if you do not have an account of the provider or are logged out of your account at that time. This information (including your IP address) is transferred by your browser to a Twitter server in the USA and stored there. If you are logged in into one of the social networks, the provider can connect the visit of our website to your facebook or Google+ account directly. Whenever you use the plugins (for example, by clicking the 'Like' button, the '+1' button or the 'tweet' button), the information in question is also transferred directly to a Twitter server and stored there. Furthermore, the information is published on the social network or Twitter and visible to your contacts there. The purpose and scope of the data collection and further processing and use of the data by the providers, as well as your rights and options for privacy protection settings can be found in their privacy policies. Privacy Policy of Facebook: Privacy Policy of Google: Privacy Policy of Twitter: Vimeo Our website uses plugins operated by Vimeo. The owner of the site is Vimeo Inc., 555 West 18th Street, New York, New York 10011, USA. When you visit one of our webpages that is fitted with a Vimeo plugin, a connection will be established to Vimeo’s server. The Vimeo server will then be informed about which of our webpages you have visited. Moreover, Vimeo will be informed about your IP-address. This also happens if you are logged out of your Vimeo account at the time or if you do not have a Vimeo account. If you are logged into your Vimeo account, you enable Vimeo to match your activities with your personal profile. You can prevent this by logging out of your account. We use Vimeo in the interest of making our online offerings more appealing. This represents a legitimate interest as described in Art. 6 Paragraph 1 GDPR. More information on how Vimeo handles user data can be found in Vimeo’s privacy policy: Open Street Map We used maps of the service “OpenStreetMap” (, which are provided on the basis of the Open Data Commons Open Database Lizenz (ODbL) by the OpenStreetMap Foundation (OSMF). Information on how Vimeo handles user data can be found in Vimeo’s privacy policy: Matomo (Piwik) We have a legitimate interest (i.e. an interest in the analysis and optimisation of our website within the meaning of Article 6 (1f) GDPR) in the use of Matomo (Piwik), software designed to statistically evaluate user access. Your IP address is shortened before it is saved. Matomo uses cookies that are saved on the users' computers and make it possible to analyse use of this online service by the users. Pseudonymous use profiles may be created for the users during this. The information generated by the cookie about your use of this online service is stored on our server and not forwarded to third parties. You can opt out of this data processing as follows: