Kungälv town council has set up a goal that all new construction should be environmentally friendly and energy efficient. In order to investigate the feasibility of further advances in the energy sector, the town council has initiated the project: From low energy to plus energy – the next generation of energy efficient buildings in Kongahälla. With financial support from the Västra Götaland region and the European Build with Care project, the council has worked with SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden to investigate how Kongahälla can be as energy efficient as possible, and what is needed if an urban neighbourhood in its entirety is to produce more energy over the year than it uses.
Barriers and Drivers
There are many challenges that must be overcome in order to realize a truly energy efficient urban neighborhood. One obstacle can be that of forms of ownership, which affect both willingness to invest and interest in energy efficient operation. It is important to apply a life cycle cost perspective for cost justification of investments. It must also be possible to establish system level targets for an entire area of the town. Perhaps the most important challenge in order to avoid sub-optimizations is that of ensuring that everything is viewed from a systems perspective.
Legislation and grants influence choices of technology and systems, and can sometimes be crucial to the economy as an investment. It is, for example, not profitable today to sell electricity from solar cells back to the grid, which is naturally a brake on development.
It is also important that grants and tax breaks for new innovative technology is long term in order to enable economic assessments that can be relied upon.
Another decisive factor in achieving the plus energy target is that of deciding the shape and positions of buildings at an early stage of the work. New technology requires appropriate knowledge throughout the whole chain of the construction process, from urban planning to building management and also to the end-user. It is vital that effort should be put into information and quality management throughout the building sector.
Today, the built environment accounts for about 40 % of total energy use, with many factors indicating that this proportion will increase unless ideas are radically changed, and that as soon as possible. The driving force presented by being a pioneer and creating a sustainable urban neighborhood can be long lasting.
A neighborhood which produces more energy than it uses must be based on innovative energy solutions and an efficient use of resources. The low use of energy in such a neighborhood leads to low operational costs. Therefore it is important to consider the life cycle cost when these solutions are evaluated. In the long run these solutions become profitable and concerns regarding future problems with security of supply and increasing energy prices are minimized.
When planning Kongahälla social aspects have been taken into account. Dwellings will consist of a mix of rental and condominiums and the area will also include commercial buildings with shops and offices. Emphasis has been put on the big picture and creating a living society. The goal is to create an outdoor environment that is inviting and can serve as a meeting place also for the inhabitants from other parts of Kungälv.
Possible collaboration between private and public actors will also be investigated. A crucial step has been to involve costructors when planning Kongahälla.
Kongahälla is project with a clear ambition regarding sustainability and environmental awareness. The aim is to construct an urban neighborhood based on renewable energy which has a surplus of energy. Efforts will be made to raise awareness for those living in the area regarding their own energy consumption and the possibility of change. The aim is to make it easy to do the right thing. Waste handling has also been studied extensively.