Eco-efficient practice(2)-Quality houses at reasonable costs in Sweden

11:04, November 05, 2009      

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Sweden, which is holding the current rotating European Union Presidency, is pushing towards an eco-efficient economy for EU to improve its competitiveness in economic development while protecting the environment. Today we introduce the second example of the eco-efficient economy.

In Malmo, the third largest city in Sweden, the local municipality initiated a project to build quality homes at reasonable cost with high level sustainability.

It was a case of making sustainability the norm – and going beyond what is required by laws and regulations. The city began with dialogue with 13 developers, and they reached a sustainability agreement to build Flaghouses.

Flaghouses represent the new generation of sustainable construction in the western harbor in Malmo. It is also a leading international example of sustainable urban development.

Why?

In the first stage of the noted demonstration project Bo01 was built on old industrial land in the shipyard area. As the first climate-neutral urban district in Sweden, Bo01 was built for a European housing exhibition in 2001– City of Tomorrow.

It was created as a demonstration project and was to show the world that sustainability can be attractive.

In 2004, the local government decided to develop the land north-east of Bo01. The objective was to build homes at reasonable cost and with a high degree of sustainability. It means that sustainable construction need not to be expensive.

Experience gained from Bo01 was put into use, and aspirations were set even higher. In the Flaghouses, high sustainability has been successfully combined with apartments available at reasonable rent.

How can that be combined?

The block consists of 16 properties and over 600 apartments, two-thirds of which are rented.
The project is now being completed while a dialogue is taking place on the next stage of development. The Fullriggaren project set an even higher standard for sustainability.

"Useful conversation" on Flaghouses has been created

The key to the success of Flaghouses is dialogue. In April 2004, the City of Malmo initiated a dialogue on architecture, planning issues, environment and quality together with 13 developers and involved members of the public.

The aim of the conversation or the dialogue was to lead to a complete detailed development plan for good-quality and sustainable housing at reasonable prices.

The main idea was that the developers would benefit from one another's knowledge. By working together, they would be able to develop new sustainable solutions and lower their production costs.

The "useful conversation" focused on four aspects of sustainability: high architectural quality and social sustainability, for example, flexible design of housing, safety and security, meeting places.

The other two aspects are economic sustainability which means housing at reasonable cost through an efficient and careful process and ecological sustainability referring to energy efficiency, phasing out of toxic substances, high biological quality and kerbside separation of waste.

Sustainability agreement

The agreement required a number of items that whoever wants to build houses in the area must abide by:

First, the price of the apartment for rent must be at reasonable cost(around 1300 per square meter per year).

Second, varied architecture, distinguishable façade lengths of no more than 25 meters.

Third, low energy use reduces costs(total energy use must not exceed 120 kilowatt hours per square metre per year).

Fourth, healthier indoor environment when the buildings are constructed with moisture control and toxic substances have been minimized.

Fifth, basic design of the residential buildings makes them usable in the various stages of life, even if a person is less mobile, the building should be convenient for the resident.

Sixth, it must have a safe and secure local environment.

Seventh, there must be a proportion of the site to be green and keep biodiversity.

Eighth, kerbside separation of waste, containers in every courtyard.

Building-Living Dialogue

The 'useful conversation' is one of the commitments in the Building and Living Dialogue– a form of cooperation between companies, municipalities, authorities and government.

The aim is to go beyond the requirement of laws and regulations. With the Building-Living Dialogue, the common target is to achieve a sustainable construction and property sector by 2025, principally in three prioritized areas: indoor environment, energy use and use of natural resources.

By Xuefei Chen, People's Daily Online.
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