The problem

The Corona pandemic has brought many underlying problems of society to the surface: cities are overcrowded and commuting produces “21% of the emissions of the total passenger transport” (Greenpeace 2020), which reduces air quality and damages the climate. On the other hand, more and more people leave rural areas to move to cities. Villages lack infrastructure as well as attractive job opportunities, especially for young people. The Corona pandemic has shown that remote work is a valuable option for many different professions. However, it comes with its own challenges such as social isolation and difficulties of keeping a healthy work-life-balance.

The solution

sustainHUBle defines a framework for sustainHUBs, which are sustainable workspaces, logistics hubs and community centers in rural areas. They reduce transport volumes, leverage infrastructure synergies and increase social cohesion, reducing emissions and alleviating pressure from urban areas while revitalizing rural communities. sustainHUB is a set of parameters protected and fixed through a creative commons copyright license (BY-NC-ND). As a company, sustainHUBle defines and develops the SustainHUB License. We also accompany rural communities by supporting the creation of new hubs and certifying projects. Furthermore, we actively promote the sustainHUB model to potential partner communities, local authorities and B2B partners. sustainHUBs learn from the current Corona crisis: When working remotely, social contacts become increasingly important. sustainHUBs combine remote work with social interaction in a coworking setting. They reduce employer’s office costs and emissions. To achieve this, we use a holistic mobility concept tailored to rural areas with a focus on net-zero transport with bikes, public transport and ecar-sharing. Also, local governments benefit from increased tax revenue, new community spirit and a big step towards their sustainability goals.


We researched perspectives on the future of work, digitalisation in rural areas, and sustainability. We realised that our approach combining coworking, logistics and community management in rural areas has a lot of demand and potential. We developed the concept of sustainHUBs as a licensed sustainability standard for multifunctional rural hubs, which will be further developed and licensed by the company. Thus, we enable local communities to adapt a well-defined, sustainable framework. We developed a business model for sustainHUBle as a social enterprise: We defined core activities, identified revenue streams and engagement channels. We analyzed the social and individual benefits, identified target groups and developed a profitability and growth potential analysis. Finally, we started working on a case study for implementation and developed a first draft of certification criteria.

Necessity to continue

Climate change and negative effects of cities have to be faced to accomplish the Sustainable Development Goals. Thus, we have to start to work on decent solutions NOW. We developed the basic idea of the SustainHUB License and sustainHUBle as a social enterprise. Now further research is required, so that candidate rural areas can be identified for a prototypical sustainHUB and contacts with partners and local governments can be established. We need to create a legal basis by founding a social enterprise and creating the copyright license.


Julia Brunner, Eric Hartmann, Lukas Pilz, Yashita Saxena, Anastasiia Vlasiuk

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Lukas Pilz

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