Umeå is a fast-growing, environmentally conscious city in Northern Sweden that’s aiming to continue growing based on ecological, economic and social sustainability. The Smart Living Lab is a central hub for innovations and ideas to achieve this vision.
Located 600 km north of Stockholm, Umeå is the 11th largest city in Sweden. It has a subarctic climate, with short and fairly warm summers, but long, freezing winters, which poses challenges for efficient energy use for both buildings and transport. So Umeå has embarked on an ambitious journey to become a low-carbon city, with the central goal of cutting CO2 emissions through sustainable transport and reduced energy consumption. The Smart Living Lab is a hub for innovative solutions that enable this transformation into a smart city for the future.
The Smart Living Lab is located in Umeå’s university district, situated just east of the city centre, and includes a mix of residential, academic and research facilities from two universities, a regional hospital, along with community, recreational and commercial buildings. The neighbourhood is characterised by its young population with lots of students and 40,000 visitors daily. This neighbourhood is one of the Umeå’s least car-dependent areas and is expected to triple its population over the duration of the project.
Low-carbon business models
The Smart Living Lab in the university district is looking at solutions for a broad range of sustainability challenges. Although environmental issues are the main focus, these factors also affect other sustainability aspects of the smart city, such as more comfortable housing, greener and more attractive environments, and better public transport, which leads to less dependence on cars. The solutions being investigated include:
• Innovating a low-carbon business model for 100% renewable energy supply;
• Storage and exchange of geothermal energy;
• Peak load management, using buildings as thermal energy storage;
• Intelligent property management;
• Gamification to influence behaviour, such as economical use of water and electricity;
• A charging hub for smart power supply;
• Low-carbon bus stops;
• Green parking payment;
• Open data municipal decisions platform;
• Demand side management for heating/cooling, floor cleaning, waste management and more.
Part of an EU project to create model urban areas
The Smart Living Lab in the University district is part of RUGGEDISED, a large cooperation project, co-financed by EU’s Horizon 2020. It brings together six European cities to accelerate progress towards a sustainable future by creating model urban areas. The local partners in Umeå represent a broad range of sectors and participants. In addition to the Smart Living Lab, they include: Umeå Municipality, the regional government, Umeå Energy, real-estate companies and building companies, and RISE (Research Institutes of Sweden). They are working together to develop Umeå University City into a viable, resilient and sustainable district; a Smart City!