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Chicago interested in Austrian Environmental and Energy Efficiency Expertise
Austrian Environmental Minister Berlakovich meets
Chicago Mayor Daley   

March 26, 2010

Ready for Austrian Samples and Swing: (left to right) Trade Commissioner Rössler, Environmental Minister Berlakovich and Consul General Schnöll.

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is interested to learn more about the Austrian experience in reducing green gas emissions and creating urban centers of the future. In a March 19, 2010 meeting with visiting Austrian Minister Nikolaus Berlakovich (Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management), Daley introduced Berlakovich to “Chicago’s Climate Action Plan”. The Austrian politician offered to share examples of Austria’s best practices, such as Austria’s renewable model cities, e.g. Güssing which gets 100% of its energy from renewable energy sources and Vienna’s municipal energy efficiency strategy.

Austrian Passive House Technology
Emissions from buildings is a specific problem Chicago and other cities are facing. During his meetings in Chicago, Berlakovich responded this concern by promoting Austrian competency in energy-efficient buildings. He cited the official “Austria House ” built for the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada by the Austrian Passive House Group (APG) according to Austrian Passive house standards. A passive house is a building in which a comfortable interior climate can be maintained without active heating and cooling systems. The house heats and cools itself, hence it is "passive”; a short introduction to this technology is found here . Besides family housing, Austrian experts envision similar technology be used in major cities by retrofitting large apartment complexes to become more energy-efficient (e.g. by adding facade elements for insulation, ventilation pipes for better unit ventilation, energy-efficient windows).

Energy Strategies for the Future
Chicago and Austria are both preparing official energy strategies in order to achieve renewable energy and climate reduction goals. “Austria’s Energy Strategy’, recently passed in March 2010, even envisages the creation of extra jobs due to the new policies. One of the suggested instruments would be an increased consideration of the environment in the Austrian tax system. Main programs will focus on increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, as well as creating supply security. In regards to traffic, Austria wants to reduce overall emissions by encouraging public transportation and reducing traffic emissions from private vehicles by improving urban planning and traffic management. Jobs are created and emissions can be reduced through new technologies such as electric vehicles .

Agricultural Commodity Trading
Berlakovich and his delegation visited the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and were briefed on the U.S. agriculture commodity trading practices and new U.S. policies under consideration. The European Union is adopting a new agricultural policy. European traders and farmers will have an increased need to protect themselves from volatile agricultural product prices and yields.

Austrian Environmental Technologies for U.S. Partners
The minister wants to support the export of Austrian environmental technologies world-wide. Bernhard Mueggler, CEO from Untha Shreeding Technology America briefed the Minister about his company’s experience in working with U.S. partners.

Reaching Out to Fellow Austrians
No visit of an Austrian minister to Chicago is complete without the local Austrian community. Berlakovich was especially interest in meeting the Chicago Burgenland community, which also shares his home province. The delegation’s agenda included a meeting with Steve Farley from Meinl Coffee House Chicago and attending the ‘Austrian Samples and Swing’ Tasting.