Buildings consume around 40 % of the total energy production in the European Union. As the building sector is expanding every year, it will increase its associated footprint in terms of energy consumption. To limit the energy dependency and associated emissions, smarter and more sustainable solutions for the building sector are essential and must be prioritized by both public and private sectors.

Sweden is known for its well-developed cooperation between stakeholders in the building sector and public sector actors such as the Swedish Energy Agency and the research community. More specifically, this has occurred through networks for residential and commercial property owners. The collaboration has resulted in an effective method termed technology procurement that promotes innovations and allows for technology diffusion that encourage energy efficiency. The goal of every technology procurement is that it results in actual order of the developed products. This process-oriented working method normally consists of the following steps:

  • A pilot study
  • Creation of an expert group of client organizations who develop a clear technical specification that meets their requirements
  • Procurement and tendering
  • Evaluation of tender offers
  • The naming of a winner
  • Diffusion of the new technology among stakeholders

Since the start of these networks 30 years ago, they have played an important role in adopting new standards for energy efficiency in products such as combined freezer/cooler-refrigerators and water taps to name a few.

Although Sweden has come a long way in developing innovative and sustainable products, the essence of the Swedish way of working with sustainability is not on the product level, but on the system level. As the understanding of energy efficiency and sustainability has evolved, the focus of sustainability has shifted from products to looking at sustainability from a more holistic point of view. Seen in this context, the efforts towards making the building sector sustainable and efficient is shifting – from making individual buildings sustainable to a systematic approach that aims to make a more sustainable built environment. 

1948: Sweden’s first district heating system was taken into operation in Karlstad.

1965-1974: Approximately one million housing units were built to meet the growing demand for housing in Sweden.

1973: The global oil crises led to multiple policies aiming to reduce the oil dependency.

1989: The network for residential property owners BeBo was established by the Swedish Energy Agency.

1990: The first model of the so-called technology procurement for specific technical challenges in buildings was implemented.

2001: Sweden’s first passive house was built.

2017: Near-zero energy regulations were introduced in the Swedish Housing Agency’s building regulations which pushed the development of passive housing and promotes the use of renewable energy.

Sweden can offer a variety of places suitable for site visits that showcase smart and sustainable building solutions. One of the most well-known examples is Hammarby Sjöstad, which has been a forerunner in terms of sustainability and systems thinking since the early 2000s. See list below for more possible site visits:

Sweden can offer a variety of places suitable for site visits that showcase smart and sustainable building solutions. One of the most well-known examples is Hammarby Sjöstad, which has been a forerunner in terms of sustainability and systems thinking since the early 2000s. See list below for more possible site visits:

 


Related Best Practices

The Tricot factory – Timber on top to create a modern and sustainable office building

The Tricot factory – Timber on top to create a modern and sustainable office building

It is smart to use a circular business model where you can use existing buildings to create new buildings. Wood as a renewable building material plays a key role when existing buildings get new life with the help of wooden extensions.

The Multi Activity House – Sports, Activities, and Culture Under One Roof

The Multi Activity House – Sports, Activities, and Culture Under One Roof

A project is underway in the far north of Sweden to move and relocate the entire city of Gällivare. Public buildings are being replaced, creating a need for innovative, multi-purpose properties. The multi-activity building in the city centre will bring sport, activities and culture under one roof.

Villazero – Building for the Future

Villazero – Building for the Future

Villazero is a development project run by Fiskarhedenvillan, Mondo Arkitekter and Structor Byggteknik Dalarna, together with support from Region Dalarna. The project’s purpose is to build a carbon-neutral detached house in Borlänge. It’s a unique opportunity to learn how to build zero-CO2 houses for a more sustainable future.

Hoppet – Sweden’s first fossil-free preschool

Hoppet – Sweden’s first fossil-free preschool

When Hoppet preschool in Gothenburg was due to be built, the City of Gothenburg wanted to set a challenge for the construction industry and encourage change. The city wanted the preschool to be built completely fossil free, with no carbon emissions throughout the building’s entire life cycle from construction to its future use.


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