The right legislation can make the difference in terms of energy efficiency. For proof, look no further than Germany, where city buildings — on average — use 20 percent less energy than buildings in other European countries.
That’s according to the new German Green City Index from Siemens and the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), which also found that German cities have a per-capita water consumption that’s about half of other European cities.
Siemens ascribes the dark green nature of German cities to “strict regulations for energy efficiency and of energy-saving building renovation,” along with “closely monitored water networks and a relatively high water price” that encourages conservation.
While 10 of the 12 German cities studied came in “above average” in their performance in eight environmental categories, one area has a lot of room for improvement: carbon emissions. German cities have higher emissions than many of their European counterparts because of the country’s high dependence on coal-fired power.
Another interesting finding is that there’s not much difference among German cities’ environmental performances even when demographics are notably different.
“The study also shows that environmental protection is not a luxury,” said Emily Jackson, project manager at the EIU. “Despite sometimes considerable differences among the cities in terms of income, population, geographical location and amount of industry — none of these factors have a measurable effect on a city’s ranking in the index.”