The Future of Urban Habitation

The German Government sets New Sustainability Parameters for City Life

While the population of large cities in Germany is increasing and getting more culturally diverse, various challenges have to be met. There is a need for more workplaces and mixed living quarters that include places for integration and recreational spaces. A compact city structure should combine high-quality infrastructure and a well-suited transport system.

In this context, the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) recently proposed new sustainability parameters for urban habitation. Besides new affordable living spaces and inner city workplaces, the major themes are sustainable mobility and clean air.

Car-friendly infrastructure still dominates the urban fabric in many German cities, a remnant of ambitious transport planning in the 1950 and 60s. Nowadays, cars are still the most important mode of transportation in inner-cities even though motorised individual transport is causing most of the transport related CO2 emissions and noise pollution.

For a sustainable future, this must change. The BMUB promotes the realisation of a compact city with short distances and mixed urban quarters. In such a city, different modes of transport are intelligently linked and integrated. Priority is given to pedestrian and bicycle traffic, public transport and sustainable transport modes. Municipalities will be supported by the federal state to ensure better conditions for pedestrians and cyclists.

Görlitz MR

Accordingly, BMUB’s program identifies five main areas where the Federal Government shall take measures to:

  1. Promote Cycling
  • Increase the modal share of cycling through more and better-equipped cycle paths
  • Multimodal mobility stations connect various modes of sustainable transport
  • New funding options at municipal and national levels are arranged to guarantee implementation of these targets
  1. Support e-mobility
  • Better charging facilities needed at various places – home, work and public spaces
  • Tax benefits make e-vehicles more attractive for individuals and businesses
  1. Reshape the car-friendly city
  • The BMUB supports municipalities to restructure and rearrange car-oriented transport infrastructure and construct liveable quarters instead
  1. Lower speed in inner cities
  • Reducing inner city speed limits to 30 km/h strengthens traffic flows and makes traffic safer. As a result, less fuel is necessary and noise levels decrease.
  1. Clean Air
  • The air in German cities needs to become cleaner
  • Promoting e-mobility and tightening emission levels (dust pollution, nitrogen oxide and mercury) are central measures to increase the effectiveness of existing regulations

Image by Michael Reiche