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Green Efforts: Berlin

In part three of Green Efforts, we take a brief tour of Berlin.

A city who, like the previous two destinations, has seen its fair share of hardships, if not more. But the once divided city is now a leading innovator for technology and design, especially in architectural design and transport.

As a world class city, Berlin has a smorgasbord of  amenities to offer and its leading efforts in efficient living are no exception. That said, we will highlight some of Berlin’s greatest green assets, both intentional and accidental.

Bike Friendly
Bike riding is a common practice is Berlin and one of the best ways to tour the city. Many streets have separate bike lanes and drivers are happy to share the road, as most are courteous and respectful to their cycling neighbors.

As the incubator of the Velotaxi, Berlin’s many streets and districts are well traveled by muscle powered cabs, which are a resourceful alternative to traditional taxis. These open-air coaches can be found around Berlin’s major districts during non-winter months and can be summoned with a simple hand signal.

Public Transport
Thanks to the U-bahn and S-bahn, Berlin has a reliable public transport system that makes traveling through farther stretches of the city enjoyable. Despite being owned by separate companies, the only real difference between the U- and S-bahn are their routes. With a majority of U-bahn covering underground tracks, along with some above ground routes within the city, while S-bahn stops are further apart, making it a faster option, and has routes that stretch beyond the city proper. Many stations in Berlin have platforms for both and travelers can use the same ticket for either one.

Potsdamer Platz
This quarter  is an assemblage of architectural masterpieces, orchestrated by Italian architect Renzo Piano. It could easily be considered the centerpiece of energy efficiency in Berlin. Aside from the historic Haus Huth, all buildings have been built from the 1990s onward and make use of their innovative designs to save significant amounts of energy. The advanced ventilation system of these buildings allow for a 50 percent reduction in energy use. Meanwhile, the roofs of these buildings harvest rainwater and save some 20 million liters of drinking water per year. Still, one of the quarter’s best assets is its lack of delivery traffic. This is due to an underground delivery system, by which trucks inter an underground tunnel from a route outside of the quarter, leading to an basement level supply center. This keeps the streets clean of pollution and allows for easy access to its residents. And so far, has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 70 percent.

Organic Eateries
As a cosmopolitan city, Berlin serves up a variety of palette please-rs and many vegan and organic restaurants dot the bustling streets and avenues. So if you are wandering around the city on foot or bike, it would be hard not to spot one. A couple vegan cafes of local appraisal are the Viasko bar & restaurant and the Jivamuktea cafe. Both have menus that change either weekly or daily, as ingredients are fresh and served in season.

Low Cost of Living
The cost of living is fairly cheap in Berlin when considering the sophisticated prices of other European capitals. According to a cost comparison between Berlin and other large cities, Berlin’s consumer price is 29.04 percent lower than Paris and 27.18 percent lower than London. Rent in Berlin is also significantly cheaper than the sometimes astronomical prices of other capitals.  Such savings allows for more disposable income, which can be saved for necessities and spent locally to support the economy of  Berlin’s many small businesses, which account for much of its street-life and livelihood.

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Green Efforts: Intro
Green Efforts: St Louis
Green Efforts: Helsinki

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