Covenant of Mayors
  Covenant Newsletter January 2013  
The sustainable energy music
{{{Interview with Michael Häupl, Mayor of Vienna, Austria.}}} In October 2012, Vienna became the 23th EU capital to join the Covenant of Mayors initiative, followed two months later by Luxembourg. Stepping into 2013, the Covenant of Mayors Office interviews Mayor Michael Häupl to share Vienna’s New Year resolutions with the newly-joined signatory community. As shown by the end-of-year festivities and other innovative projects in the city, art and sustainability go hand in glove in Vienna, bringing considerable advantages to tourism and city attractiveness. More generally speaking, the city has ambitious plans to stay on course towards meeting its 20% CO2 reduction targets, including promotion of district cooling, continued thermal building renovation and extension of the Vienna underground network.

The Vienna Philharmonic concert is the major highlight of Vienna’s New Year’s celebrations: how sustainable is the event which draws a large quantity of tourists every year?

In addition to offering a broad variety of cultural facilities and events, Vienna is also capable of hosting large numbers of guests in a most sustainable way. As regards the New Year’s concert, the building the concert is held in (Musikvereinsgebäude) has been connected to the Vienna district heating system since December 1981. The district heating system is among the cornerstones of the city’s climate protection programme.

The Musikvereinsgebäude is situated in the very centre of Vienna and is easily accessible by public transport. Concertgoers can use Vienna’s well-established public transport system, which is yet another keystone of the city’s climate protection programme. After the performance, visitors can choose to stay in sustainable hotels. The EcoQuality label for tourism, a module of the EcoBusinessPlan Vienna, was designed to promote sustainability in the hospitality industry. Almost every fifth hotel in Vienna has been awarded an eco-label.

Can you name other examples of how art in Vienna intertwines with sustainable energy concerns?

The Spittelau waste incineration plant, one of the core elements of the Vienna district heating system, is a prime example in this context. After the original waste incinerator was destroyed in a major fire in May 1987, the famous Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser was commissioned to redesign the plant near the city centre. He created a unique masterpiece – a symbiosis of fine art, technology and ecology. The new plant was completed in December 1992. With multi-coloured façade and a chimney featuring a golden sphere, the Spittelau plant has become a new landmark of Vienna. Falcons breed in artificial nests attached to the chimney, adding an element of nature to the high-technology facility. Nowadays the incineration plant attracts thousands of tourists. At the same time, it is equipped with the latest exhaust air treatment technology, thus undercutting official emission limits by 90%. The plant produces green thermal energy, which is fed into the district heating grid and helps cut greenhouse gas emissions from the heating of buildings.

What are Vienna’s New Year resolutions in terms of quality of life improvements through sustainable energy planning?

Vienna’s successful climate protection programme was established in 1999. In December 2009, the Vienna City Council decided to continue the programme, which addresses all levels of municipal administration, but also local residents and SMEs. The objective of this programme is to reduce per capita emissions by 21% of the 1990 levels by 2020. We are on the right track towards achieving this goal, though we still face major challenges in the near future. To tackle these challenges we will focus on several priority tasks: Firstly, and most importantly, we aim to expand the Vienna district heating network, and to continue promoting district cooling projects. At the same time, we will keep up our commitment to thermal building renovation. Thirdly we will continue to promote projects for the use of renewable energy. Lastly, we also have to step up our efforts to shift the modal split towards a higher share of public transport. We will therefore extend the Vienna underground network, and make buses and trams both faster and more comfortable. Of course, it is equally important to promote ecological mobility by focusing on cycling and pedestrian traffic.

    >> Covenant Monthly Newsletter January 2013 <<
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  The sole responsibility for the content of this newsletter lies with the Covenant of Mayors Office. It does not necessary reflect the opinion of the European Union. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein. The Covenant of Mayors was set up with financial support of the European Commission and consists of five associations of European local authorities: Energy Cities, Climate Alliance, Eurocities, CEMR, Fedarene, and ICLEI Europe.

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