GreenSummer Freiburg

Overview: This project is designed around two catalysts: the Freiburg-Madison Sister City program, an ‘official’ relationship between the two cities which was initiated over twenty years ago, and also the many exchange programs that have existed between UW-Madison and Uni-Freiburg for over 45 years. The City of Freiburg is currently known as one of the most sustainable cities in the world and has been very supportive of helping its Sister Cities grow their green infrastructure capacity. The City of Madison and the UW-Madison have a unique and excellent partner to help support ‘green’ efforts in the greater Madison region.

UW-Madison students spent six weeks in Freiburg learning about transit, renewable energy, passive house design, sustainable neighborhoods, solid waste digesters, green tourism and environmental economics. While there were there, students lived for the summer in the sustainable neighborhood of Vauban to experience firsthand many applications of sustainable living.

Students learning about solar/green roof of 100% renewable-powered hotel in Freiburg (CUE, 2011).

Objectives: Students are charged by Freiburg leaders to bring back knowledge of their advanced technologies to inform decisions about sustainability initiatives in Madison, for two reasons: to establish business partnerships for their Green Business Cluster with Madison-based stakeholders; and as a globally recognized leader in sustainability, a commitment to help their sister-cities move from incremental to transformational change.

Students Learning Goals:

  • Experience firsthand the many aspects of the sustainable living in Freiburg

Deliverable Products or Services:

  • volunteered with the city parks in a program bringing citizens together to plant trees, clean stream beds, and maintain park equipment.
  • shadowed passiv-haus architect and delivered research on building materials to Madison-based urban planner.
  • provided assistance as interns in a solar research team at the Fraunhofer ISE.

CUE Affiliates: Nancy Mathews, Beth Tryon
Community Partners: Wisconsin Without Borders, Greenlink Projects, LLC
Related Activity: GreenFreiburg in Madison


  • Beth Tryon. May 2012. Green Summer in Freiburg. Living Knowledge, International Journal  of Community-Based Research, No. 10, page 24.

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