North Sweden Cleantech

Green Zone – A Road To Sustainability

The Green Zone in Umeå is still a role model as a service area closing the loop – even more than 15 years after its inauguration! Green Zone proves in an educational way that it is possible and economically viable to transform from linear to circular thinking. Many visitors come to here every year to learn more about energy efficiency and sustainable solutions.

In the beginning Green Zone was completely unique. No similar facility existed in 2000, when
the Ford Motor Company, McDonald’s and Statoil inaugurated an eco-friendly and energy efficient area with a car dealership, a petrol station with grocery store and a fast food restaurant.
Thanks to unique solutions and a long-term systems approach negative environmental impact is minimized. Various forms of clean tech are applied at the Green Zone; recovery of excess heat and cold, green roofs, reusable and recyclable materials and filters purifying indoor air are just a few examples.

Learning Project
Green Zone shows that it is possible for human activities to be a part of circular loops, both biological and technical.
Although automobile repair shops, filling stations, car wash and restaurants normally are among the worst polluters in society, only a very small part of the waste water goes into the municipal sewage network at the Green Zone. This is due to grease and oil removal which allows most of the grey water to be infiltrated locally. All stormwater in the area is also taken care of locally, e.g. with the help of green roofs and a pond. And even the car wash water gets processed and recirculated, therefore fresh water needs are reduced to 30 liters water per car wash compared to 300 liters in a conventional system. Regular environmental education is provided to all staff at the facility.

Systems thinking
There are many smart solutions at the Green Zone, which are based on a system thinking approach. Daylight is important, and provided through special lanternines that even light up the repair shop. The sun is used to preheat air on the south facade – a cheap and smart solution that even works well in northern Sweden. Vacuum toilets save water and filters with living plants provide better indoor air quality and humidity. But the best example is perhaps passive air cooling methods where underground pipes preheat and precool incoming indoor air and hence reduce energy consumption.

Profitable
Green Zone has been a good deal. The production cost of the area were about 20 percent higher than for the cheapest possible conventional option, but heat and electricity consumption is about 60 percent lower compared to if conventional energy solutions had been used. Breakeven was reached in 2010. Energy consumption in the Green Zone is 45 kWh per square meter per year, and the small amount of electricity that is needed consists of wind energy.

Green Zone has also contributed to social sustainability. The amount of sick leave days is among the lowest among similar facilities. There are a few reasons for this, e.g. the staff can enjoy a good working environment thanks to healthy materials, good indoor air quality and closed systems for chemicals.

Town: Umeå
Find us: Överstevägen 1
Website: http://www.greenzone.nu
Visiting: All year
Duration: 2 hours
Languages: Swedish & English

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