I am sure that if you are little bit connected to sustainable building/planning or energy, you have heard of the Austrian city Güssing. A former poor rural town bordering Hungary with no industry, a high unemployment rate and 70% of weekly commuters to Vienna that transformed itself to an energy autonomous town in 2001 and is now producing more energy (heat, fuels, and electric power) from renewable resources than actually can be consumed in the town. The benefit to the whole region is an added economic value of 13 million Euro (2005 figures) per year.
Some years ago I visited Guessing as part of a project on Sustainable Industrial Sites. What inspired me most was not visiting the wood gasifier or the big biogas plant but the Mayor of Güssing, Peter Vadasz telling his story about how it all started and how they managed to become completely independent from fossil fuel and continue being a true innovator in renewable energy projects. His story made it so clear to me that a few people can make a huge difference. A Mayor and an Engineer, Reinhard Koch, pushed this poor town beyond what everybody thought would be possible. I heard Peter Vasdaz speak again some months ago in a conference and he was still equally enthusiastic after telling his story probably thousands of times.
Picture credits: Katleen De Flander
The driving thought behind this BLOG is that we are in the need of a major transition in thinking and we need to get inspired. We have to approach ‘living’, ‘moving’, ‘using’, ‘creating’ in a different way. Many designers, urban planners, architects and other creative people are frontrunners for change and frontrunners need to be appreciated and shared.