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A new sustainable residential district – Hammarby Sjöstad

Juni 2, 2011
(c) Holger Ellgaard

(c) Holger Ellgaard

Sustainability is one of the key criteria for today’s urban planning. In Stockholm planners had the chance to create a whole residential district from scratch and to design it to be as environmentally friendly as possible: Hammarby Sjöstad. The first plans were drawn in the early 1990s and it will be completed by 2015 but most of it is done already. In the end it will consist of 11.000 residential units and up to 35.000 people will live and work in Hammarby Sjöstad.

From the beginning ambitious environmental goals were set: „the goal of the entire environmental programme is to halve the total environmental impact in comparison with an area built in the early 1990s“. The district was planned accordingly, but first the existing pollution had to be cleaned up. Before it became a residential district it was an industrial area that left the environment and the soil highly contaminated with toxic wastes.

So, to go more into detail what was done:

One main issue for the planners was energy: Solar panels were installed to provide energy and to heat water, accumulating waste  is used to produce electricity and heating, waste heat is extracted from the wastewater of a nearby wastewater treatment plant, and a district cooling network was established.

Another important aspect is water: One of the goals was to reduce the water consumption by 50% compared to the average to 100 litres per person and day. Further, the quality of the wastewater was to be improved for the overall environmental quality and to make the sludge that  remains after the treatment usable for agriculture and for the generation of biogas for energy production.

An interesting feature is also the garbage disposal system. After being thrown away the waste of several buildings is collected and ends up in underground tanks that are then emptied with a vacuum technology by the garbage company. Then, as mentioned, it is used to generate electricity and heating.

The goals are quite ambitious so the question is whether they have been achieved so far. A study from 2008 estimated that „the total environmental impact for buildings, building plots and zones has fallen by ca. 32-39% for emissions into the air, soil and water (environmental index) in comparison with the referent.“ Especially the buildings have become more environmentally friendly, especially due to the improved heating system and the processing of wastewater. What also helped to reduce the impacts from transport were the establishment of a light rail and ferry connections. All in all with regards to transportation the study showed that „the referent produces ca. 475 kg more carbon dioxide emissions per apartment from personal transport by car than Hammarby Sjöstad“.

Further, the conflict arises between aesthetic and environmental impacts is important. For example large windows facing the lake are great for the people living there but are not optimal from an energy saving perspective. Also some of the technologies such as the solar panels or the waste disposal system still have the potential for improvement. But even if some of the goals have not (yet) been reached the overall impact of Hammarby Sjöstad is positive and the ideas are now being exported to other similar projects worldwide.

You can find more information on Hammarby Sjöstad on the official website

http://www.hammarbysjostad.se/

More information on the evaluation:

http://www.solaripedia.com/files/720.pdf

http://www.hammarbysjostad.se/inenglish/pdf/Grontmij%20Report%20eng.pdf

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