It’s could be named the “Oscar for sustainability”. The Energy Globe Award was committed in the last years by famous people as Kofi Annan, Robin Gibb (Bee Gees), Peter Falk (Columbo) or Michail Gorbatschov. On the 25th of March Professor Mr. Neumann, founder of the prize, awarded the winners in Vienna. It stands for projects that create solutions for present problems concerning sustainability and environmentalism.
About a hundred visitors came to the old dome hall in the Technical University of Vienna to join the awarding of the Energy Globe 2014. Responsible for the conference and organization was The Austrian Federal Economic Chamber and The Energy Globe Foundation to award Vienna’s best sustainability projects.
For the inauguration Michael Getzner and Johann Fellner were delivering a speech about the economics of sustainability. “Economic expansion is always linked to the consumption of the tight capabilities we have”, Professor Getzner said. And this is not recorded in the national output. “We use our resources and name this our profit”, he sums up the error in reasoning of registers like the GDP. The other indexes like the “economic accounts for environment” or the „Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare“ take at least these factors in consideration, but it does not mean that it would be positive for the overall consumption. In almost every country the economic growth is linked to the consumption of resources and does not work uncoupled. “That is no sustainable behaviour. Capabilities are not infinite”, he says.
But as economic growth is a main target of states economy, alternatives have to be found. Johann Fellner therefore introduces two new -or rather- old sources: “Urban Mining and Landfill Mining are ways to reuse ressources”, Fellner says. Urban Mining describes the regaining of ressources from demolished constructions or dispensable products. The Norwegian town Norrköpping holds 560 tonns of copper by itself, hidden in dead pipelines. Urban Mining is looking for ways to regain this ressources. Landfill Mining describes more or less the same process with focus on landfill sites. The concept sounds great but on the second thought things can get a little laborious. Especially with Urban Mining the costs for regaining ressources often surpass their market value. It is also rather non-sustainable because it only postpones the problem of running out of ressources than solving it.
The awardees have thought harder about sustainable solutions. The nights overall winner, ab&cd innovations, have filed a patent application for turning glycerin into lactic acid. Glycerin often appears as a byproduct of producing biodiesel fuel, as well as through the processing of soy and palm oil. However, lactic acid is an important component of the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and food industry. It is also a basis component for bioplastics like PLA (polylactid acid).
Wolfgang Neumann awarded the winners after the speeches in five categories: Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Youth. He was the founder of the prize. Winner of the evening and also in category Earth was the company ab&cd innovations GmbH. But also the other “elements” had very interesting sustainable projects to offer: In the category Fire E-LOG-Biofleet Schenker & Co. AG presented their vehicles which run with hybrid drive made of fuel cells. For water Ebswien Hauptkläranlage was the winner with Austria’s biggest autark purification plant.
Winner of the category Air is Donau Soja. The company promotes soy production in the danube region to show an alternative to the import of genetically modified soy from Argentina or Brasil. The price of the category Youth was awarded to the initiators of Blukone blended learning from the University of Applied Sciences Vienna. The educational concept describes sustainable energy management in regards of game-based learning.