Lessons from the “Greenest City”

Växjö cathedral,Växjö,Sweden
Växjö cathedral,Växjö,Sweden (Photo credit: sk12)

In 2007, the City of Växjö in southern Sweden was voted the greenest city in Europe.

Over a 18-year period, greenhouse gas emissions per resident have been reduced by 41% and by 2015 the target is to further reduce emissions to 55% of the 1993 level. The goal of the city is to be fossil fuel-free by 2030. How has Växjö achieved this impressive result and are there any lessons that could be transferred to Victorian cities?

The 6th International Urban Design Conference being held 9th-11th September at the Novotel Sydney Olympic Park welcomes Dr Robert Fuller of Deakin University and Dr Patrik Thollander of Linkoping University who will present research which has compared Växjö, and the measures they have taken, with the Victorian City of Ballarat, which has a similar population.

The research shows that per capita emissions for Ballarat residents were 133% higher than their equivalents in Växjö. The difference is primarily due to the emissions associated with heating and electricity use which are more than two and 33 times greater respectively in Ballarat than Växjö. Emissions associated with travel are 6% higher in Ballarat than in Växjö. Emissions in Växjö have been reduced over the 18-year period to 2.7 tonnes per resident.

The introduction of biomass-fuelled district heating had the biggest single impact. While such a strategy is not possible in Ballarat , the introduction of other proven conservation and renewable energy technologies could prove equally effective. Upgrading the typical Ballarat home to a 6-star rating has the potential to reduce heating needs by 62% and installation of a gas-boosted solar water heater will reduce emissions from water heating by 60%. A 4.0 kW PV system on a home could reduce per capita emissions to a similar level to Växjö. To achieve their goals, the Swedish city has annunciated a clear long term vision, supported by targets and measured by indicators. Alliances with other Swedish and international organisations has provided important collaborative support.

Dr Robert Fuller is a mechanical engineer and has worked in the field of renewable energy for over 30 years at the CSIRO, the Victorian Department of Agriculture, and Melbourne and Deakin Universities.

Registrations for 6th International Urban Design Conference are open.  Click here to register or clicker here to view the program.

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