Geothermie Heizwerk in München Riem Gebäude, Rohrleitungen

Industry focus

Green Economy

This interdisciplinary industry is particularly innovative in Munich, and benefits from the region’s many high-tech companies and broad range of scientific and research activities.

Shaping a greener world

Products and services that generate a direct environmental benefit or represent an environmentally friendly substitute are becoming increasingly important.

In 2017, around 90,000 people were already working in the environmental economy in the Munich region; in 2022, just five years later, our study shows 119,000 employees and a gross value added of 10.75 billion euros. The environmental economy is therefore one of the leading sectors.

The environmental economy in the Munich region is also very dynamic: the sector has grown by 3.8 % annually since 2010, almost twice as fast as the economy as a whole.

*Prognos AG: Umweltwirtschaft in der Region München, 2023 (Report on Munich’s green economy, in German)

Green economy overview

Key areas and strengths

♦ The strongest submarkets in Munich's environmental economy in terms of employment are the areas of classic recycling management & circular economy (29% share of employment / around 1,900 companies), environmentally friendly mobility (24% / around 500 companies) and energy efficiency (19% / around 2,500 companies)

♦ Sustainable initiatives: Munich Urban Colab plays an important role for the innovation environment of sustainable start-ups

Around 5.4 % of new start-ups
Between 2013 and 2022, a total of 980 start-ups were founded, 60 % of which were in the areas of energy efficiency and energy savings, environmentally friendly energy conversion, transportation and storage.

Mast einer Windturbine mit einem Kran daneben und Blick über Hügelland und Wald auf weitere Windräder

♦   Leading international fairs
Messe München holds the following renowned trade fairs
Intersolar Europe , the world’s largest photovoltaics trade fair 
IFAT, the world’s leading trade fair for water, wastewater, waste and resource management

Sectors and activities

This is Munich’s strongest sector, with energy-efficient production a key focus. Munich’s high industry density means automation solutions as well as control and networking technology are in high demand. Heating regulation, heat recovery, and waste heat utilization are also important.

Munich’s second most important segment concerns energy-efficient buildings. Companies provide construction and installation services as well as intelligent building technology.

Ansicht einer größeren Heizungsanlage

Circular economy principles are used in waste collection, disposal, recycling, and treatment. Secondary raw materials is a booming area in Germany due to changes to supply chains.

SMEs are the main actors in this sector in the wider Munich region. The city-owned waste management company AWM focuses on waste recycling and treatment within the city itself. In 2022 the city approved the Zero Waste Munich concept.

Picture: Mayor Dieter Reiter and Kristina Frank, municipal consultant and Head of Munich’s Municipal Services Department, present Munich’s Zero Waste concept


The transition to more environmentally friendly mobility encompasses alternative motors and fuels, emissions-reducing technologies, and the further expansion of public transport and car sharing as alternatives to motorized individual and road freight transport.

Most new jobs are in the segment environmentally friendly logistics and mobility services.

Munich’s expertise in vehicle construction is reflected in the second most important segment environmentally friendly mobility and drive technology.

Intelligent transport management and infrastructure, which encompasses software as well as things like charging stations, porous asphalt, and protection against noise pollution, is a third important area.


E-Auto an einer Ladesäule und zwei Personen

Many jobs have arisen in this sector in recent years.

One focus is on materials-efficient production, meaning technologies, processes, and services that reduce resource consumption. Examples include low-waste production processes, innovative process management, control technology, sensors (often with help from “Green IT”) and the use of alternative materials.

Picture: Circular economy in practice: rubble converted into recycled concrete and used directly at the “Bayernkaserne” construction site.

Praktizierte Kreislaufwirtschaft: Auf der Baustelle in der Bayernkaserne wird aus Bauschutt Recycling-Beton hergestellt und direkt verbaut.

When it comes to renewable energy sources, companies in Munich focus mainly on solar energy, hydrogen, and biomass. The municipal utilities company Stadtwerke München (SWM) has also greatly expanded geothermal energy.

Storage technology is the subject of considerable R&D and is growing in importance.

Intelligent energy systems and network technology also play a role.

Picture: Geothermal well at the SWM heating plant in southern Munich, June 2018.

Luftbild auf die Geothermie-Bohrung am SWM Heizkraftwerk Süd mit den beiden Türmen im Hintergrund, Juni 2018

Environmentally compatible water treatment and use and the associated infrastructure is another growing segment.

Water protection is particularly important in Munich. This includes hydrological devices, water samples and analyses, and services relating to the planning of ecologically minded water infrastructure.

Behälter mit Wasserprobe

In the years before the coronavirus pandemic, this traditional sector enjoyed employment growth of over five percent. Almost 60 percent of those employed work in air pollution control: filter technology and catalysts, ventilation systems and exhaust gas recirculation systems.

Measurement technology and services are particularly prominent in Munich. Noise pollution control is a smaller segment.

Picture: Passive air sampler


Research and science

Below is a list of degree courses, key research areas, and institutions in Munich focused on environmental technologies:

The Bavarian Research Alliance supports Bavarian research and innovation in a broader European context. The following major projects focusing on environmental technology are carried out as part of the alliance:

  • FOR PLANTA – research on adapting crop plants to climate change
  • FORKAST – ecosystem research on climate adaptation
  • FORETA – energy-efficient technologies
  • FORFOOD – resource efficiency in food production and distribution
  • FORGLAS – glass materials for energy efficiency in building technology
  • FORLÄRM – noise reduction for technical equipment
  • KW 21 II – research initiative for 21st century power stations, focus on reducing CO2- emissions

The Munich University of Applied Sciences offers degree courses such as:

Sustainable Building Services Engineering
Regenerative Energies

There are also associated research projects in collaboration with companies.

The TUM offers numerous degree courses, including:

Plant and Process Technology
e.g. thermal separation technology, relevant for air, flue gas and wastewater treatment


TUM Water Cluster The TUM’s water research develops, for example, sustainable solutions for resilient water systems.

The Fraunhofer AISEC helps companies in all sectors to secure their systems, infrastructure, products, and services. This includes, for example, digital solutions that support the energy and mobility transition.

The IVV’s research focuses on resource-saving developments for the food and packaging industry. The technology and expertise can also be applied to other sectors.

The ZAE Bayern conducts energy research at three locations: Garching, Würzburg, and Erlangen. The center pursues an interdisciplinary approach at the interface between basic and applied industrial research. Key topics are photovoltaics, energy storage, energy-optimized buildings, and energy-efficient processes. The Garching division focuses on developing technologies for energy systems and renewable energies.

Three Bavarian universities, the Technical University of Munich (TUM), the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU) and the University of Bayreuth (UBT), joined forces in 2016 to create the Geothermal Alliance Bavaria (GAB), which pools research and clarifies open scientific questions on deep geothermics. The research project serves as a platform for knowledge and data transfer between science, business, and policymakers. A joint master’s degree program “GeoThermal/GeoEnergy” at FAU and TUM helps meet the need for highly qualified young people in the sector.

The research network bayklif is funded by the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs. The networks aims at consolidating and strengthening Bavarian research efforts in climate change and its consequences.

In five interdisciplinary senior research associations, several subprojects (SP) work together on a central research question regarding climate change and its consequences:
BayTreeNet – Talking Trees (SP 1-3)
BAYSICS – Bavarian Citizen Science Information Platform for Climate Research and Science Communication (SP 1-10)
AquaKlif –  Influence of multiple stressors on watercourses in climate change (SP 1-7)
BLIZ – Looking into the future: interactions between society, land use, ecosystem services and biodiversity in Bavaria until 2100 (SP 1-6)
LandKlif – Effects of climate change on biodiversity and ecosystem services in semi-natural, agricultural and urban landscapes and strategies for management of climate change (SP 1-10)

The main point of contact for bayklif in Munich is the Gene Center at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU).

Reports and contact