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140 L of water for one cup of coffee – is that a problem?


Durstige_Gueter14.03.2017 An answer to the question above, among many others around water as a resource, can be found in the travelling exhibition ‘Durstige Güter’ (Thirsty Goods). It will be launched on 22. March 2017 – World Water Day – in Heidelberg in the Welthaus with a subsequent travelling schedule across Germany. (Click on poster to enlarge.)

The food we eat and other goods we consume, which require water at the source of production, are imported from locations all over the world. Finally, when they end up on our plates we can only speculate about their water footprint and their history of origin.

The exhibition shows the histories of our products in twelve stations. The visitors get introduced to the symbols for virtual water, green, grey and blue water drops as well as to the different countries of origin of certain products. The background stories of our products give the drops a greater role with regard to ecological and social factors and help us reflect our own consumer behavior.

Finally, the visitors get advice on how to reduce their consumption of virtual water in their shopping basket. But which product labels are really helpful? Many labels are currently not matured regarding criteria for water use and consumption in the supply chains.

Water issues are considered to varying extents for the criteria of sustainability labels. To promote further developments, visitors of the exhibition get the opportunity to develop their own suggestions. These suggestions will be forwarded directly to the Federal Agency of Environment of Germany (UBA).

The exhibition is a project of Friends of the Earth (BUND) Heidelberg collaborating with the ifeu, the German Water Protection Association (VDG e.V.) and Prototypen Exhibition Concepts, Berlin. It was funded by the Federal Environmental Agency and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety.

After the formal opening, the exhibition may be booked on loan from the Friends of the Earth Heidelberg. Further information on locations and visiting times can be found as of March 22, 2017 on the project website

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Second SEEMLA newsletter published

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Project BioMates launched: Bio-oils for co-processing


24.01.2017 In early December 2016, the BioMates project (“Reliable Bio-based Refinery Intermediates”) kicked off with a meeting in Brussels. Receiving funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme, the project puts together eight partners from five EU member states and is coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT in Oberhausen. The four-year project aims at manufacturing intermediate products made from wood-like or stalk-like non-food biomass, e.g. from agricultural residues and perennial grasses, which are suitable for co-processing in conventional crude-oil-based refineries. Within the project, ifeu will be responsible for the integrated sustainability assessment of the investigated pathways together with Imperial College from London.

Further information ...

Press release (pdf 230 kB)

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10 Years GBEP

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30.11.2016 PROTEIN2FOOD is expected to provide a substantial contribution to the ongoing scientific and political discussions in the field of sustainable agriculture, by developing crop-based, protein-rich, and environmentally friendly alternatives for meat-based diets.

These project aims were presented by Andreas Detzel (IFEU) with a poster titled; “PROTEIN2FOOD – a Horizon 2020 project on novel plant-based protein-rich food for fostering sustainable food consumption”, at the 10th International Conference on Life Cycle Assessment of Food.


Potential contribution to protein supply within different diet patterns through novel P2F food products


This event took place in October at University College Dublin (UCD) and involved the discussion of major topics related to sustainable agriculture and the contribution of human systems in the food chain, focusing particularly on different dietary patterns and the environmental impact they might have. Ensuring future protein supply for food and feed was among the most highly discussed issues.
Andreas Detzel (IFEU) presenting the Protein2Food poster at the LCA Food Conference 2016 at UCD

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(Bulk) purchase of bio-based plastic products in the public and entrepreneurial sectors

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Renewbility - Decarbonising Transport


10.11.2016 ifeu presented the results of the research study Renewbility in Berlin together with its partners – Öko-Institut, DLR und INFRAS – and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB).

In order to reach the climate goals of the Paris Agreement, the transport sector in Germany has to be decarbonised by 2050. The main strategies are a maximum increase in vehicle efficiency and a complete shift from fossil fuels to renewable energies. This can be achieved cost-effectively if cities, in particular, adopt new vehicle concepts such as electric cars and if they boost efficient public transport. With these strategies, the transport sector in Germany could be free of climate emissions by 2050, and moreover, an increased quality of life in urban areas would result.

In the project Renewbility, ifeu focused on pre-chain emissions of vehicles. This included the emissions during vehicle production and fuel supply. Additionally, the future material demand for vehicle fleets was assessed. The website provides the results of the project (in German).

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Strategic Cooperation Framework Agreement signed between Urumqi Building Energy Conservation Association and ifeu


Foto Bernd Franke23.08.2016 Urumqi/China. Ifeu has a successful long-term collaboration in energy efficiency activities with the City of Urumqi in Northwest China that was initially funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). One major achievement was Xingfubao the first passive house in the extreme cold climate zone. Planning for a 3,500 m2 office building of the Rui Xiang window factory was recently completed with support from ifeu; construction will start in September 2016. The City of Urumqi, research organizations and further stakeholders in Urumqi have started the Urumqi New Building Materials and Building Energy Conservation Association to expand activities in the area of energy conservation in the building sector and enhance the use of sustainable construction of building materials. The improved recycling of construction waste materials is also in the association’s focus. The Strategic Cooperation Framework Agreement between the association and ifeu is designed to expand the basis for further cooperation. The Association’s executive director, Ms. PENG Xioayan, stressed the benefit for China in learning from Germany’s Energiewende (energy transition). Bernd Franke, scientific director at ifeu outlined the good prospects for German companies offering energy efficiency consulting, training of personnel, and specific energy efficient products.

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Survey of Global Material Flows


Cover of the Report09.08.2016 The current report of the International Resource Panel of the United Nations Environment Programme, to which the ifeu Institute contributed, analyses global resource use between 1970 and 2010. The report builds on existing global datasets on material flows which were developed further and brought together for the UNEP report. The ifeu Institute contributed by preparing and calculating global physical trade data.

The report presents a variety of empirical results from economy-wide material flow analysis analysed by different criteria such as regional affiliation, income and welfare differences and differentiated by raw material categories. The report shows for example that the extraction of raw materials has tripled globally during the observed period while the amount of internationally traded goods quadrupled. Global average resource use (measured in terms of domestic material consumption) has increased from 6 to 10 tons per capita. According to the report the average amount for Germany was 16 tons in 2010.

The report is available here ....

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First Newsletter by the SEEMLA project

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Pilot project on Bio-Oil Transformers


photo bio-oil transformer (Guido Reinhardt)07.07.2016 Transformers that transform power from medium voltage to low voltage currently mostly contain mineral oil as insulating fluid. IFEU now accompanies a pilot project by the German grid operator Netze BW in collaboration with Siemens and the University of Stuttgart in which initially 100 bio-oil transformers are introduced. Already this pilot operation saves around 36 t of mineral oil. The new bio-oil from rapeseed shows comparable insulation properties and is moreover regarded as non-toxic. IFEU studies in a screening life cycle assessment which climate change mitigation and other environmental impacts arise from this. If accompanying tests are successful, Netze BW plans to use bio-oil transformers in future maintenance and replacement operations of its 26,500 distribution transformers.

For more information see the press release of Netze BW [German].

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Bio-based Plastics for Food Packaging

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Evaluation of Mercury Emissions from the Thermal Power Station Munich North

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