Sweden swapping efficiency for security?

Touching down in Stockholm today to pick up his 2007 Volvo Environmental Prize, energy guru Amory Lovins had some harsh words for the Swedes. Sweden, a paradise of innovation around effective energy use and smart building in the 1970's, has lost its top spot in recent years, he says.

Lovins said Swedish researchers have put energy security above smart and effective energy use, and construction and design industries have also lagged. Perhaps it was the big build-out of nuclear energy and hydro power in Sweden during the 70's that made industries complacent.

Skanska, one of the largest construction companies in Sweden, launched the energy-efficient ModernaHus concept in 2005. ModernaHus are largely prefab 3-8 story apartment buildings that can be 50 percent more efficient than the industry standard. But while Skanska has sold two ModernaHus complexes - a total of 70 apartments - to two developers, neither developer chose Skanska's Energi+ add-on which would cut the apartments' energy use another 20 percent by employing heat pumps, solar panels, low-flow faucets and individual metering. Short-sighted thinking in Lovins' book.

But there's some good news.
Swedish builder NCC has taken a pledge to improve the efficiency on all the apartments it builds next year by 20 percent compared to the Swedish standard, which is 110 kWh per square meter per year. To do this NCC will use heat pumps, triple-glazed windows and low-flow faucets as standard equipment.

NCC is also betting that passive solar housing will get to be popular in Sweden. Sweden is participating in the European project CEPHEUS to establish a standard for building passive solar homes and built a 26-unit CEPHEUS project near Gothenburg. NCC said it believes between 5 - 10 percent of homes will be passive solar within the next five years. ::Miljorapporten.se

Tags: Amory Lovins | Green Building | passive house | Sweden