German Reichstag continuing the green trend
by Rachel Thomas
March 22, 2008
The German Reichstag has made a decision to rely solely on renewable energy from late summer. This will make the parliament building the greenest in the world.
The building will undergo a huge refurbishment that will swap the conventional power that it has mostly relied on to environmentally friendly power sources including water, wind and solar energy.
The Reichstag has already won appreciation as a result of refurbishment done in the 1990s that included the glass cupola designed by British architect Sir Norman Foster. The building’s high energy efficiency which has already resulted in a 94% cut in its carbon emissions has been applauded by ecologists.
Currently the building’s solid, well-insulated walls mean that the building is able to retain heat in the winter whilst reducing the need for air-conditioning in the summer months. At present the roof makes use of natural light and solar power.
On a similar, environmentally conscious note biofuel generators reside in the basement providing 40% of the building’s energy for heating, lighting, the flow of air-conditioning and water. Yet the remaining 60% of energy is provided mostly from coal and nuclear supplies.
Yet this is about to change. The Reichstag has been home to German’s parliament for nine years and plans aim at entirely exchanging any conventional energy sources for renewables to be provided by an outside supplier.
The decision to make the swap was made last week by a parliamentary subcommittee to seek bids from renewable energy companies to replace current conventional power sources. The subcommittee expects to have chosen a supplier by late summer.
At present energy provision in the Reichstag costs about €3m (£2.3m).
The change to green energy will no doubt boost Germany’s reputation as one of the greenest countries in the world and this, combined with a desire to aid the renewable sector, is likely to have been parliamentarians’ aim.
Germany has a reputation for having one of the most globally successful and innovative clean energy industries with about 13% of the county’s energy coming from renewable power, mainly wind. This percentage is set to increase to 27% over the coming 12 years.
The switch to green energy in the Reichstag is in keeping with a trend in zero-emission homes in Germany. Some homes even produce their own power, with the owners able to sell their surplus energy back to the grid for profitable returns.
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