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Sustainable Ålidhem

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Sustainable Ålidhem

Sustainable Ålidhem


Building sustainable communities

Residential neighbourhood on track to halve its energy consumption within five years

When a major fire destroyed an apartment block in a public housing estate in northern Sweden in 2008 the decision was taken not only to rebuild the burnt out building in the most energy-efficient way possible, but to transform the whole estate into a more comfortable, safe and sustainable neighbourhood. The Sustainable Ålidhem project, which extends to 500 apartments, will involve substantial refurbishing of the apartment blocks — built in the 1960s and 70s — that survived the fire and 137 new apartments will be built. The 36 million euro project, which got underway in 2010 and will continue to the end of 2014, aims to halve energy consumption in the 137 new apartments, in comparison with the minimum standard set by Swedish building regulations. More precisely, this involves reducing maximum consumption from 130kWh per square metre a year to less than 65kWh. Older flats will be retrofitted to improve their energy performance so that they consume less than the maximum requirements for new buildings.

The Sustainable Ålidhem project is also linked to a goal of making the city of Umeå a northern hub for environmental technology and to Umeå’s bid to become a European capital of culture in 2014. Central to achieving the ambitious energy consumption target is the installation of one of the largest photovoltaic plants in Sweden. A total of 2,800 square metres of photovoltaic cells will be installed on both the new and refurbished buildings and the cells on two of the new buildings will produce more electricity than is consumed by those buildings.

Other measures introduced to improve energy efficiency include: feeding washing machines with hot water provided by a district heating scheme, whose fuel is 99% fossil free; improving the insulation of roofs and walls; installing new windows and the installation of air-to-air heat exchangers in ventilation systems. All new and refurbished apartments are fitted with a computer screen that monitors water and energy use in real time.

By extrapolating results from the first year of the project and including expected energy saving measures, the whole project should lead to a total reduction in energy use of 4,000 MWh per year which amounts to half of the energy use prior to the 2008 fire. Carbon dioxide emissions, meanwhile, are expected to fall by 2,000 tonnes a year as a result of all the measures.

For more information: Sustainable Ålidhem

Contact: Mr Johan Lagrelius;


Lessons learnt

The chief executive of AB Bostaden Ann-Sofi Tapani said: “Almost 50% of our buildings are old and unsustainable when faced with the challenge of meeting future demands on energy consumption. As operators in real estate, we must have the courage to try new solutions. So far we have decreased energy consumption by 40-50%. The tenants appreciate our efforts and rent is still at an acceptable level. I am very proud of what we have accomplished since 2010.”

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Funding description

The Sustainable Ålidhem project is a collaborative project between the publicly-owned housing company AB Bostaden, the municipality of Umeå and the energy company Umeå Energi. The project received financial assistance from the Swedish government, through the Delegation for Sustainable Cities.

Economic effect

The project has had a direct impact on other housing stock in Umeå as the know-how and experience gained is set to inform the refurbishment of around 5,000 apartments in other districts of Umeå over the coming years.