This year, the designation "Austria's Climate Protection Municipality" was awarded for the second time. On November 25, 2009 at Vienna Concert Hall, Niki Berlakovich, Minister of Environment, Wolfgang Anzengruber, Chairman of Verbund and Helmut Mödlhammer, Mayor and President of the Association of Municipalities, had the pleasure of handing over the green-framed place-name signs with the wording "Austria's Climate Protection Municipality 2009" along with a check earmarked for climate-protection projects to the three winning municipalities Strem (Burgenland), Virgen (Eastern Tyrol) and Gleisdorf (Styria).
"It is my goal to guide Austria step by step towards energy self-sufficiency. For this to succeed, the municipalities are vital partners. Our competition shows that communities have long since realized what potential there is in renewable energy sources. This gives us courage and hope that we will succeed in reaching our climate protection targets, because all of the entries sent in by the municipalities involve projects which prove what an important concern to our citizens climate protection in actual fact is," Environmental Minister Niki Berlakovich pointed out at the award ceremony.
This year, once again, communities were given a chance to send in innovative projects with the central themes Renewable Energy Sources and Energy Efficiency in three different categories, and the scope ranged all the way from technical measures to awareness-raising. Category 1 comprised municipalities with a population smaller than 1,500, Category 2 those with a population between 1,500 and 5,000. Category 3 was directed at municipalities with more than 5,000 inhabitants or associations of municipalities or regions.
"All the initiatives the municipalities have presented show us how necessary it is for us to tackle the issues Supply Security, Climate Protection, Sustainability and Efficiency together and in a committed manner. We at Verbund are contributing towards easing the prevailing economic crisis and the climate trend in Austria by making massive investments in the utilization of hydropower and efficient grids. But we can only take a major step forward towards a better energy future if we take it together," Wolfgang Anzengruber, Chairman of Verbund said, explaining the company’s motives for giving financial support to the competition.
"It's not just large-scale projects that are needed to protect the climate. Thousands of little initiatives and ideas work just the same. The municipalities in Austria are pioneers in this respect, and the competition is a very impressive example of just how much is being done for climate protection at community level. Today we would like shine the spotlight on several projects to show you just how much power and commitment there is in the municipalities when it comes to climate protection," Mayor Helmut Mödlhammer, president of the Association of Municipalities pointed out.
Tough competition for title "Austria's Climate Protection Municipality" 2009
Close to 100 municipalities submitted their climate protection projects to the jury consisting of Environmental Minister Niki Berlakovich, Ulrike Baumgartner-Gabitzer (Member of the Managing Board of Verbund), Univ. Prof. Günter Brauner (Technical University Vienna), Ingmar Höbarth (Climate Fund), Monika Langthaler (brainbows), Peter Molnar (Climate Alliance) and Mayor Peter Vadasz (Town of Güssing). All in all, the competition "Austria's Climate Protection Municipality 2009" involved prize money (dedicated by Verbund) totalling EUR 90,000. Of this sum, Euro 18,000 is awarded to the first place of each category, Euro 8,000 to the second and Euro 4,000 to the third.
In Category 1, the market municipality of Strem in Burgenland was awarded the first prize. The municipality Langenegg (Vorarlberg) took the second place. The market municipality of Stetteldorf am Wagram (Lower Austria) and the municipality Raabau (Styria) share the third place. In Category 2, the Tyrolean municipality Virgen won the first place; the municipality of Burgkirchen (Upper Austria) took second, and the third place was won by the market municipality of Schiefling am See (Carinthia). In Category 3, the Styrian urban municipality of Gleisdorf was determined as Austria's Climate Protection Municipality 2009. The second place was taken by the urban municipality of Bruck an der Leitha (Lower Austria) while the urban municipality of Feldkirch took the third place.
Municipality of Strem - EcoEnergyLand
The market municipality of Strem has been setting an example in all matters concerning energy self-sufficiency for many years. Strem is in the position of covering its entire heat requirements thanks to its biomass district heating system. In a biogas plant, biogenic material from local energy crops is turned into methane, which, in turn, is generated to green power and district heating. Strem relies on green alternatives when it comes to transport too: Motorists will soon be able to refuel their vehicles with bio-methane at a special refuelling station. In public transport the low-floor buses have been adapted for use of biodiesel. Burgenland's first biogas theme trail and the green bicycle trail give visitors a chance to find out for themselves what the EcoEnergyLand is all about.
Municipality of Virgen - an energy-conscious community
The Tyrolean municipality of Virgen builds on the power of the sun and water: a photovoltaic system covering 41 sq m and three small-scale hydroelectric plants supply electricity to its inhabitants. Crucial to reaching their goal of meeting the energy requirements of the whole municipality exclusively by utilizing domestic resources is the participation of the municipality’s population. Thanks to a generous subsidization scheme, a large number of private thermal solar plants, biomass heating systems and renovations in passive house and low-energy house quality could be realized.
Climate protection program for Gleisdorf - Living in the age of the sun!
The city of Gleisdorf's secret of success is the mixture of methods it chose in the areas Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Sources. Solar panels covering a total area of 3,300 square meters, 161 pellet heating systems and three central thermal biomass-based power plants supply electricity and heating to the municipality’s inhabitants. For the sake of climate-friendly mobility, a special infrastructure for solar-powered charging stations is currently being established for the benefit of the public – 300 electric vehicles are already in use. Ultimately, Gleisdorf wants to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by the year 2015. By then, electricity is to be produced 100 % carbon neutral.
To learn more about the 10 prize-winning projects, please go to (http://microsite.videostream4u.com/portal/41/747) where the projects are presented in short films. Details on all of the projects submitted for this year’s "Austria's Climate Protection Municipality" competition can additionally be obtained from the website www.kommunalnet.at.