A self-sustaining city is one that obtains its power from renewable resources and where electric cars move quietly along the streets without emitting carbon dioxide.
Now, researchers at Fraunhofer, Europe's largest application-oriented research organisation, are demonstrating which of the technologies can be readily implemented.
This is the scenario of a sustainable city of the future as predicted by the German federal minister, Annette Schavan, and the president of Fraunhofer, Hans-Jorg Bullinger, in the vision of "Morgenstadt".
"Morgenstadt" is one of the lighthouse projects adopted by Fraunhofer in the course of the high-tech strategy of the German federal government.
"The sustainable restructuring of our cities creates new challenges in the areas of power supply, water supply, infrastructure, waste removal and mobility," said Bullinger.
"Despite the varying speeds of innovation in terms of information and communication technologies and supply networks, new solutions must be found and the existing substance must be taken into consideration for the long term," he added.
Fraunhofer researchers demonstrated various technologies developed by them that could make this future city possible.
There are many ways to save on energy: one is to utilize an intelligent electricity meter, the Smart Meter developed by Fraunhofer researchers.
This enable customers to check every day via a web interface, such as an iPad, for example, how much electricity they are using.
They have also developed a concept how a concrete high-rise built in 1968 can be changed into a modern and environmentally friendly passive house - rather, into the first high-rise building in the passive standard.
The ideas also include a new thermal insulation envelope, windows featuring triple pane glass and venting that utilizes heat recovery to keep the heat in the apartments.
Much will change in Morgenstadt as far as traffic is concerned.
It can be envisioned that the streets are no longer flanked with parked cars, but that the vehicles are parked in automatic parking garages.
The automatic parking garage developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML is ready for use.
The described the future development at the UrbanTec Trade Fair in Cologne from October 24 -26, 2011.