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Wilhelmsburg District (Hamburg), Germany

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The districts of Wilhelmsburg and Veddel are located on the Elbe Islands in Hamburg and have historically been on the social outskirts of the city. Deciding that this formerly industrial area was ripe for redevelopment, the city framed its new urban development as an International Building Exhibition (IBA).

The six-year IBA Hamburg project ran until 2013 and comprised over 60 sites and projects involving local enterprises and residents. The city’s overall goal was to use IBA Hamburg as an urban planning tool to generate new initiatives that would transform the area into a mixed-use space and integrate it into the rest of the city.

One priority of the project was to respond to the climate challenge, resulting in the formulation of urban sustainability goals that have a strong focus on energy efficiency and renewable energy. An overall target of the Renewable Wilhelmsburg concept was to supply the Elbe Islands with 100% renewable energy. In order to reach this target, the district of 53,764 (2015) inhabitants introduced high energy efficiency standards for new buildings, energy saving retrofits of old buildings, combined heat and power plants, and local renewable energy production. Following a step-by-step strategy, local renewable energy is expected to meet all electricity requirements of the Elbe Islands by 2025 and 85% of heating demands by 2050.

Integrating local companies and institutes that will continue their work in the long run after the IBA ended in 2013 was an important consideration. Getting partners like local energy supplier Hamburg Energie to invest in renewable energy projects was one of the steps taken to help ensure progress towards 100% renewable energy and other goals would continue.

IBA Hamburg tried to incorporate a high level of public participation by establishing platforms like the IBA Lab and IBA Forum, through which residents were given the chance to discuss specific topics with international experts. In the district ateliers, citizens elaborated concepts together with IBA staff. This participation process allowed Wilhelmsburg’s residents to feel greater ownership of the renewal of their district that helped mediate opposition to the development.

One well-known project was the transformation of a flak tower from the second world war into a solar power plant as well as a biogas-fuelled central heat and power station that provide 800 local households with renewable electricity and heat. Renamed the Energiebunker, this former symbol of war has become a large and visible symbol of climate action.

IBA Hamburg formed a basis for Wilhelmsburg to reach its ambitious and necessary goal of 100% renewable energy supply. It demonstrates how a major project to redevelop an entire district in a regenerative way – by focusing on local and renewable resources – can be successfully accepted and implemented. It is an example of future just urban development that reduces the district’s dependence on its region by generating renewable energy locally.


Source: Regenerative Urban Development – a Roadmap to the City we need.

based on information from the FCF 2013 presentation by Uli Hellweg, Managing Director, IBA Hamburg; interview with Katharina Jacob, Assistant Project Coordinator, Cities and Climate Change, IBA Hamburg; and Energy Atlas: Future Concept Renewable Wilhelmsburg, IBA Hamburg 2010

Further information you will find on the IBA Website

Wednesday, July 8th, 2015

General Details

Timeline: Electricity 2025, Heat 2050
Contact: Simone Weisleder
More information: Click

Status Quo

Total energy consumption:
In 2007, the IBA’s first year, the buildings in its area had an annual heat requirement of 550 gigawatt hours and a total electricity requirement of 143 gigawatt hours.
Percentage of RE in the total energy consumption:
Merely 1 % of the thermal requirement and approximately 10% of the demand for electricity are covered by regenerative sources.
Value of all economic activities (GDP or equivalent ):
Industry and habour makes more than 50% of the surface proportion of the urban and landscape environment types in 2007

Project Features

Scope of engagement
yes Local/regional
yes International
Quality of the objectives
yes Terminated
Binding effect of the objectives
yes 100% REresolution made unanimously by county council/ government
Energy savings objective
yes Energy Efficiency Target