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First Passive House in Tianjin: with IFEU Support


Starting in July 2014, IFEU supports the Technological Development Center of Beijing Uni-Construction Group Co., Ltd. (BUCC) in planning for the construction of a passive house in Tianjan, a major harbor city East of Beijing. For this project, IFEU cooperates with the Passive Hause Institute/Darmstadt and Culturebridge Architects/Grünstadt. The 14-storey residential building with an area of 7.000 m2 will be completed by the end of 2015. The heat demand of 15 kWh per m2 and year represents only about 20 % of the requirement for new buildings according to the Chinese standards and will be supplied by electric heat pumps and solar thermal panels. Staff of BUCC and the local construction committee was trained at a recent 3-day workshop in Tianjin where many technical details were resolved. Following the Xingfubao passive house in Urumqi/Xinjiang this is the second project where a passive house is realized in China with IFEU support. IFEU project director Bend Franke declares: "The interest in building passive houses increases rapidly in China. These projects are a clear signal that increasing the energy efficiency in buildings is a high priority for Chinese construction companies and decision makers alike."

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Air pollution from mobile machinery – IFEU studies and symposium


31.07.2014 Pollutant emissions from mobile machinery, i.e. construction machinery, agriculture and forestry equipment or petrol-fuelled tools for private households, have long been considered negligible in air quality monitoring and efforts for improvement. An IFEU study commissioned by the German Federal Environ­mental Agency (UBA) has tackled this preconception to test its validity (completed in 12/2013; now available as UBA publication 24/2014). "Particulate matter emissions from mobile machinery currently amount to the equivalent of the combined exhaust emissions of the entire road transport sector. For nitrogen oxides, mobile machinery emissions are equivalent to a quarter of overall road transport emissions. The limits for particulate matter and NOx stipulated in the European air quality standards are frequently exceeded in many German cities, thus mobile machinery has to be considered in air quality monitoring. Mobile machinery may play a minor role in overall background pollution levels, yet it could be responsible for considerable local pollution peaks."

The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure of the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg (MVI) was eager to learn further details. Although pollutant levels in Baden-Württemberg are generally decreasing from year to year, several municipal monitoring facilities are reporting that limits are frequently exceeded. At present, IFEU is analysing the share of emissions from mobile machinery out of the overall pollutant emissions in Baden-Württemberg and how to approach regulation and avoidance of these emissions. In addition, the IVU Umwelt GmbH modelled emission dispersion for specific locations with known high pollutant loads. The Federal State of Baden-Württemberg is thus encouraged to reduce emissions from construction machinery, especially particulate matter, in the near future.

Results from the IFEU study were presented at the MVI symposium in Stuttgart on 17 July 2014 (Photograph: project leader Hinrich Helms) where a forum of about 100 experts in the field critically discussed the findings in context with other relevant talks. The debate focussed on the modification of official regulations in Baden-Württemberg to accelerate the introduction of particulate filters for construction machinery. State-of-the-art filter application has been shown to be the most effective measure to improve air quality for construction workers and local residents.

IFEU-Study for the German Federal Environmental Agency (Texte 24/2014)

IFEU-Study for the MVI-Baden-Württemberg (July 2014)

MVI Symposium July 17, 2014 – Press Release

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Workshop "Building Renovation Strategies",


photo Martin Pehnt30.05.2014 Building Renovation Strategies. From Directive to Delivery - Presentations available

Out of the 28 expected renovation strategies (required by the article 4 of the Energy Efficiency Directive), only 10 were submitted to the European Commission as of May 16. Some lack ambition, some have no commitment to new policies and some are non-compliant: this proves the challenge to produce long-term, ambitious and impactful strategies.

BPIE, the state of Baden-Württemberg and the German Institute for Energy and Environment (IFEU) jointly organised at May 16, 2014 a conference on building renovation strategies. The event showcased notable national and regional examples which were the subject of a lively debate between the speakers and 100 participants. BPIE intends to undertake a more detailed critique of the national strategies over the coming months to identify shortcomings and best practices.

More information ...

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Biofuels in Aviation


cover of the sudy26.05.2014 The aviation sector is growing faster than any other transport sector. However, in contrast to road and rail transport, there are few opportunities for climate change mitigation in aviation. In addition to energy efficiency optimisation, the focus of the aviation industry is primarily on the replacement of fossil kerosine with biofuels. The protestant development and relief agency "Bread for the World" (Brot für die Welt) is tackling the issue of tourism causing climate change. In consequence, the question of climate-friendly and sustainable air travel arises. Is the aviation industry in the position to maintain its claims for responsible travel that is fair to the environment? Bread for the World commissioned IFEU to explore the sustainability of biofuels in a short study with a focus on the following questions:

How valid is sustainability certification? Which requirements are relevant, what are the legal obligations, how may these be put into practice?

What is the role of core issues, such as securing nutrition given competition between food and fuel production, impacts on the climate or environmental impacts that go beyond climate change mitigation alone?

More information ...

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How to design sustainable multifeedstock, multiproduct biorefineries


Pictures: Courtesy to BIOCORE (left) / CIMV (right)08.05.2014 After four years of work, the FP7-funded project BIOCORE (BIOCOmmodity REfinery), which developed an advanced lignocellulose-based biorefinery concept, has recently been successfully completed. The project focused on the production of a wide range of products from non-food biomass feedstocks using an innovative Organosolv technology. Within the project, IFEU led the work package on „Integrated Sustainability Assessment“.

It was found that the most sustainable of the assessed scenarios focus on material use of biomass fractions, e.g. producing the polymer precursor itaconic acid, lignin-based resins and the sweetener xylitol. However, such advanced biorefineries are not sustainable per se but can instead also result in creating additional burdens, which is e.g. crucially influenced by the product portfolio.

Read more in the report on environmental assessment (containing LCA results, among others) and in the report on integrated sustainability assessment.

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LCA of two sandwich packs


Abbildung27.03.2014 In a LCA study for the European Aluminium Foil Association (EAFA), IFEU examined the environmental impacts of two different ways to safely pack a sandwich. The two different packages were a household aluminium foil and a reusable rigid plastic box that is cleaned in a dishwasher after each use.

The results of the study show that the environmental impacts related to the use of an appropriate amount of aluminium foil are not higher than those caused by the cleaning of a reusable box.

The present LCA is a good example that it can be worthwhile to examine allegedly easily assessed issues by the application of the scientific instrument LCA.
The study was performed in accordance with the relevant ISO standards (ISO 14040 & ISO 14044) and accompanied by an external critical review process.

Download of the Executive Summary (233 KB) …

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Material use: a better option?
A research project analyses the potential environmental and economic effects of increased material use of biomass


Cover25.03.2014 Bio-based products often have both environmental advantages and disadvantages, and as such show many similarities to the use of biomass for energy. This has been profoundly analysed by a study for the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA). In cooperation with nova-Institut, Öko-Institut and FiFo, IFEU concludes that the environmental advantage of these uses over conventional fossil fuel-based materials are at least equal to the benefits of switching from fossil fuels to biomass for energy. Pathways applying cascading use of biomass show significant advantages.

IFEU’s contribution to the study encloses a comprehensive LCA as well as the development and proposal of sustainability criteria for material use of biomass.

More information ...

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India's Future Resource Demand – Resource Efficiency as a Reasonable Approach


photo cover of report15.01.2014 Every society depends on natural resources like biogenic and mineral raw materials, on energy sources like fossil fuels and solar and wind energy, and on clean water. The issue of resource efficiency is gaining more political attention since global population growth and limited resource availability is advancing. Industrialized countries already have high levels of resource consumption per capita, while emerging and developing countries still need increasing resources to provide appropriate living standards for their populations. Coordinated and collaborative efforts are required to ensure both availability and conservation of natural resources.

In this context, GIZ initiated a dialogue with Indian and European partners to understand the significance of the issue of resource efficiency for emerging countries in general and for India in particular. The perception of managing natural resources efficiently in a sustainable way is a key consideration in emerging economies in order to support both, economic growth and future resource availability. The result of this dialogue is a report which focuses on raw materials, in particular minerals critical in India’s economy, and demonstrates certain management options along selected case studies.

Download final report in English (compressed version, pdf 4.2 MB) ...

Download final report in English (print version, pdf 25 MB) ...

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Energy Efficiency of Light Duty Vehicles


Foto: Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Lizenz)09.01.2014 In an expert report for the German Federal Environment Agency, IFEU examined how the energy efficiency of future cars can be evaluated (with a large proportion of alternative drive systems).
Currently, environmental evaluation of cars is mainly based on tailpipe emissions. As emissions of alternative technology vehicles largely occur in the energy supply stage (rather than during vehicle operation), a paradigm shift towards an energy-based efficiency rating is necessary. The report highlights some options how this could be achieved.

Download the Report (in German with English Summary) ...

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Ecornet Welcomes a New Member


18.12.2013 Ecornet, the Ecological Research Network welcomes its eighth member: IZT - Institute for Future Studies and Technology Assessment (Institut für Zukunftsstudien und Technologiebewertung) Berlin.

More information ... Press Release
(in German, pdf 429 KB)

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Empowerment of Migrants for Climate Protection (EMIGMA)


Grafik Transdisziplinärer Ansatz 30.09.2013 IFEU The attitudes, environmental awareness and the related greenhouse gas emissions of Germans with a migrant background were investigated in a BMBF-funded research project carried out by the IFEU in collaboration with the Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and Arts (Prof. Hunecke, Prof. Toprak).

Central finding of the transdisciplinary project: Germans without a migrant background are more environmentally aware compared to those with migrant roots. However, the lifestyle choices of non-immigrant Germans on average place a greater burden on the climate. An important reason for this is the more frequent use of a car.

For further results, including findings on the level of involvement in environmental or migrant organisations of the groups of people under investigation, please see the related press release (Website FH Dortmund, available in German only).




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35th Anniversary of IFEU


foto of IFEU staff, fotografer: Ole Hoepfner

13.09.2013 We have celebrated our 35th anniversary where Dr. Ulrich Höpfner (front row, 7th from left)) was honoured. He was one of IFEU’s co-founders and served as executive director from 1978 to 2009. Dr. Höpfner retired at the end of 2011 and continues to support IFEU in a consultant capacity.

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Greenhouse Gas Savings by Using Oil Palm Trunks


Foto Ölpalmstamm12.09.2013 The palm oil industry constantly attempts to increase the sustainability along the entire palm oil value chain. IFEU recently published a study in cooperation with the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) on a promising optimisation strategy: oil palm trunks, which become available upon replanting of existing plantations, represent an important and increasing flow of underexploited biomass. Their utilisation for producing furniture or bioenergy can lead to substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, especially if the process energy demand is met by energy recovery from processing residues of oil palm wood. Guido Reinhardt, co-author of the study and head of the Biomass Department at the IFEU, says: "Usage of oil palm trunks of course cannot solve all problems in palm oil production but it is a practicable step forward that can be implemented throughout palm oil producing countries."

More information:

Nils Rettenmaier, Heiko Keller and Guido Reinhardt (2013):
Life cycle greenhouse gas emissions of furniture and bioenergy production from oil palm trunks, (online ahead publication)

Downolad of a related talk at World Biofuels Market Congress 2013
(pdf, 1.2 MB)

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Third Project Newsletter SUPRABIO



Logo suprabio20.08.2013 On the road to a bio-based economy, it is widely held that biorefineries are a sustainable use of biomass producing a wide range of material and energy products from renewable raw materials. Currently, the European Commission is funding three major research projects on this topic, one of which - named SUPRABIO - is coordinated by the University of Brunel. Since February 2010, project partners from eight European countries are involved in research, development and demonstration of biorefinery concepts. These are focused on innovative biochemical and thermochemical conversion processes, process integration, as well as issues of sustainability. The work on the latter subject is lead by IFEU.

Here, you can find the 3rd project newsletter ... (pdf 2 MB)

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Video Documentation of BMBF Funded Project RECAST Urumqi


15.08.2013 Future Megacities - Resource Efficiency in Urumqi, China is the title of a 17-minute video documentation, produced by the crossDOCS film team as part of the accompanying projects of the BMBF research programme Future Megacities. The video features the lighthouse projects carried out by IFEU to increase the energy efficiency in buildings and in industry and are commented by our Chinese cooperation partners.
The video can be started by clicking on the picture.

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