Originally emerging in 1977 from the anti-nuclear movement, today the institute employs around 120 staff members in offices in Freiburg, Darmstadt and Berlin. It produces scientific studies and advises policymakers, environmental NGOs, institutions and companies. Some 100 projects, both national and international, are completed each year.
The institute’s thematic priorities are:
- Chemicals management and technology assessment
- Energy and climate
- Emission and ambient pollution control, radiation protection
- Agriculture and biodiversity
- Sustainable consumption
- Nuclear engineering and facility safety
- Law, policy and governance
The institute is constituted as a registered association with around 3,000 members, of which almost 40 are local authorities. It finances its work primarily by acquiring third-party funding for its projects. This is complemented by membership fees and donations. Annual revenue is 8.5 million euros. The Öko-Institut has published an e-paper named eco@work since summer 2006.
The institute is a founding member of the EnergieVision association, which awards the ok-power label for green electricity products. It also launched the EcoTopTen consumer information campaign – the EcoTopTen web portal provides product recommendations for sustainable consumption.