The eco-neighbourhood project in Vauban has taken a highly participatory approach by setting up the community interest group, Forum Vauban. To enable the participatory process, meetings, workshops, newsletters and internet were used. The success of Vauban has shown that a participatory approach has a strong impact on the behaviour of residents and how they perceive the changes around them. The behaviour of residents in Vauban has been highly supportive of an ecologically and socially advanced neighbourhood and this is reflected in the physical design of the dwellings.

Forum Vauban continues to play a highly important role by engaging the residents of Vauban to be actively involved in ongoing discussions about how to maintain and enhance the ecological and social value of the dwellings in the neighbourhood. These discussions allow the communities to raise their concerns about aspects of the physical dwelling of the dwellings and allows the residents to share ideas.

Buergerbau (Citizens’ Building Stock Corporation) is a specialist organisation set up to support the citizen groups in carrying out the collective projects that occur in Vauban through the participatory approach. The building projects carried out by ‘Baugruppen’ (building groups) which were the self-organised groups of prospective residents to manage their own construction processes. The groups were benefiting from the lowered building costs and through the greater participation possibilities as the best outcomes are often derived from the participatory discussions. Free advice was provided at organised information meetings and events by Forum Vauban to inform the self-builders about the physical design of the dwellings.

Forum Vauban has developed a concept to reduce energy consumption, they set out to achieve this through the physical design of the dwellings in association with the City of Freiburg and the Freiburg energy company. The ecological approach envisioned for Vauban neighbourhood by Forum Vauban was particularly successful due to the co-operation with the developers. The residents of Vauban have made it a point to go beyond the energy standards set for sustainable housing which was effectively the result of the highly participatory approach always taken. The residents of Vauban continue to be actively involved in maintaining and further improving the physical design/additions of the dwellings now and for the future to maintain high sustainable performance. The co-ownership of solar panels scheme in Vauban is a successful factor that supports behaviour change towards sustainable living. ‘Vauban Actuel’ is a newspaper for the Vauban neighbourhood that contributes towards providing the residents with education and constant learning opportunities.

Education about sustainability in Vauban starts from nurseries and primary schools. Ongoing education is supported through a number of initiatives taken up by the Forum Vauban that ultimately ensures future residents understand the best practices to achieve high performance of dwelling.

Vauban shows us a bottom-up model with on-going participation from all stakeholders ensures the project takes off and grows in a manner that is deemed by most as a success story.