When the job creation measures came to an end, another area of action had been developed in addition to the transport sector. Together, Thilo Koch and Florian Heinstein, a business economist who would manage the institute from then on, created the IFEU Institute’s first municipal waste management concept.
Using the city of Bielefeld as an example, they addressed the question of whether or not waste incineration should be used. In contrast to many other bodies involved in the public discussion, IFEU advocated a moderate approach at that time, endorsing waste incineration under certain conditions, provided that systematic waste prevention and recycling were in place. Ready-made reports, which are quite usual amongst experts, were frowned upon, and each investigation had to be tailor-made.
A similar development occurred in the energy sector from 1996 onwards. In this sector too, the specific concepts for cities and municipalities replaced the national energy policy strategies which had been discussed previously. The geographer Achim Schorb, the engineer Jörg Wortmann and later Hans Hertle set up a department to deal with municipal energy supply and energy management.
In 1983, Bernd Franke founded the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) in Washington D.C. Radioecology underwent a brief public renaissance following the reactor accident in Chernobyl. Suddenly the IFEU’s expertise was in demand again, performing dosage calculations and assessing the movement of radionuclides into the food chain. A pamphlet written by Mario Schmidt about the radiation risk from Chernobyl sold 70,000 copies in just a few weeks.
The upper-case IFEU now became the lower-case ifeu, which also demonstrated a new vision – the newspaper headlines were not the be-all and end-all, but rather the serious yet environmentally committed scientific work was key. There was an understanding that ifeu was now more of a research institution and less of a citizens’ initiative.