One Tonne Life: A Swedish Family's Green Lifestyle Experiment Begins

One Tonne Life family moving in photo

All images via One Tonne Life

This week in Sweden an unprecedented low carbon lifestyle experiment has begun. The Lindell family have moved into a solar powered prefab house in the suburbs of Stockholm that is specially designed to minimise energy consumption. The family's aim is to see if they can radically reduce their average carbon footprint of 7 tonnes per year, down to 1 tonne. TreeHugger was in Stockholm this week to meet them and hear the One Tonne Life story.

One Tonne Life house family car photo

Ready for the low carbon challenge
Nils Lindell, 52, his wife Alicja, 51, daughter Hannah, 16, and son Jonathan,13, are enthusiastically gung-ho about their One Tonne Life challenge. They say they don't know exactly what changes they will have to make to their normal routines, but they are ready to embrace the new lifestyle programme and are keen to learn as much as possible about low carbon living through the process.

"We will do whatever it takes" says Hannah, who is really the driving force in the family, being the one who discovered an advert for the project in the local paper, then persuading her family that taking part was a great idea. It helps of course that living in a beautiful, spacious, new designer home, with a Volvo electric car at their disposal, is part of the deal.

Nils and Alicja cooking photo

Corporate collaboration
While it is up to the Lindells to transform the One Tonne Life project from high concept to everyday reality, their ability to do so comes from a broad range of technological and lifestyle support in the form of some of Sweden's largest brands.

The big names behind the One Tonne Life project are Volvo, who have supplied a C30 electric car that will be charged in the solar powered car port next to the house; A-Hus, the prefab housing experts, have manufactured a design by Gert WingÄrdh, one Sweden's most successful architects; The country's biggest energy provider Vattenfall have supplied the energy monitoring equipment in the house; Siemens have installed a full range of energy efficient white goods for the family to use; and the national supermarket chain ICA will be guiding the family through a healthy low carbon eating plan.

Lindell family in kitchen photo

PR or R&D; Exercise?
It's quite a roll call of big brands that haven't always been celebrated for their dedication to sustainability. Quite a few eyebrows have been raised at Vattenfall's involvement, as the third largest greenhouse gas emmitter in Europe last year. But while on the outside this looks like an highly polished PR exercise, on the inside it's a really rather ground breaking R&D; project for everyone involved.

Alicja plugging in Volvo C30 Electric photo

The data and information that will be diligently collected from the house over the next six months will be extremely useful to see just how close we are to being able to live a One Tonne Life and will help all these companies develop their sustainable innovation strategies. Everyone I spoke to was excited about the learning that will come out of the project.

Committed to the cause
Though the Lindell family are aware of the commitment they have made to this social experiment, and will be blogging throughout their time there, it is somewhat reassuring that the whole endeavour stops short of being a media circus. Hannah Lindell looked shocked when I asked if they would have got involved if this had been a reality TV show.

"No, of course not" she says, "this is a serious project. This is not about us, we are just the tool, it's really about this whole house and its footprint."

Hannah looking at the Energy Watch monitor photo

Watch the BBC feature on the One Tonne Life project.

We will be posting a series of interviews with the One Tonne Life partners on TreeHugger over the next few weeks.

More on Green Lifestyles in Sweden
Swedish 'Thermos' House Offers Low-Emission Life
"V" Bike Sweden's Answer To City Cycling
Sweden's Green Car Explosion
Sweden Says: "Eat Up Your Greenhouse Effect"
How They Build in Sweden: Panellized Prefab
IKEA Sells Used Furniture (Only in Sweden for Now)

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