What We Can Learn from a Small German Village

To all the doubters who say that green technologies and ideas don’t create jobs, take a look at Feldheim, Germany, a rural village completely powered by renewable energy. The small village of 145 people has no unemployment; many of the residents work in the renewable sector, in the biogas plant or the wind and solar parks. It’s easy to dismiss this little tid-bit as an anomaly of a small town, but it’s hard to deny that the growth in the renewable energy sector translates to more jobs within this sector.

 

From beer to sustainable farming

Elsewhere in Germany, Frisch vom Dach, or Fresh from the Roof, is soliciting investors for an innovative aquaponic farm project for the roof of the Old Malthouse in Berlin. Beer and sustainable farming—I think I’m in love. Fish will live in the vats that once housed dry barley, while plants will grow in a greenhouse on the roof. While fish waste fertilizes the growing plants, the plants purify the water. In addition to growing fresh produce, fish will also grow and thrive. The harvest is intended for sale to a shop on-site as well as to local retailers. The first harvest is set for 2013.

 

Germany is making good on its promise to generate at least one-third of its power from wind, solar, geothermal and bioenergy by 2020, and generate up to 80% of its power from these sources by 2050. In exchange for essentially funding R&D on renewable energy, homeowners that have installed solar panels and the like can sell the power they generate back to the grid. Because the country sees renewable energy and green technology as the future, they’re willing to set the bar for green investment, despite critics.

 

The U.S. should take a page from the Germans—we’re reaching a point where we have to either shit or get off the pot, and basically get onboard with the growth of the future renewable sector as that’s where the jobs are and will be in the future. Adopting green building and technology is not a partisan issue—it’s a logical solution for our changing times.

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