Press release 2019-02-26

The ’Million’ programme is being updated to accommodate both the climate and tenants

Homes built under the Swedish ‘Million’ public housing programme can be retrofitted to more or less the same energy standard that new buildings are compelled to meet – while simultaneously maintaining a cap on rent increases. This is amply demonstrated by the EU Cityfied project that has renovated the Linero district in Lund. Preliminary figures show that energy use can be slashed by as much as 40 per cent.

During the Million program, implemented between 1965 and 1974, over 800,000 apartments were built in Sweden – one-third of the Swedish multi-dwelling stock. Most of these buildings are currently in great need of refurbishment. If energy renovation of these homes is carried out simultaneously, it is possible to cut just over 200,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year – much the same as if more than 600,000 people took to biking five kilometres every day instead of driving the same distance in petrol-driven cars.

But the upgrading of million programme districts also brings about major challenges. The overhaul can be costly and drive up rents for residents.

IVL is a member of the EU Cityfied project, which tests and distributes energy efficiency solutions suitable for this type of apartment building. The Swedish part of the project has been implemented in the ​​Linero district in Lund and is an example of how it is possible to renovate a million-programme area in a sustainable and careful way. The basic premise has been that all tenants should be able to afford to keep on living in the flats afterwards and remain in place while the renovation are being carried out.

– The project is unique because the property owner, the energy company, the municipality and the researchers have all prioritized reducing carbon dioxide emissions and maintaining stable rents. It has given us a broader perspective over how we can renovate homes in a well thought-out and cost-effective way, says Jeanette Green at IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute.

In all, 16 three-storey houses have been energy renovated, concurrently with replumbing. To avoid substantial rent increases, standard raising measures have been limited, for example, kitchens have not been replaced. Instead, attics have been insulated, windows changed, new district heating stations and improved ventilation installed. In addition, solar cells have been fitted on some roofs and a smarter control system that saves both heat and provides a more even indoor temperature has been added.

The final metrics are not yet complete, but preliminary data show that energy use can be reduced by as much as 40 per cent – which means that these houses will be just as energy-efficient as new buildings.

IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute has measured and analysed the energy savings that have been achieved.

– What we are able to see from the metrics so far is that it is possible to gain substantial energy savings through cost-effective energy renovation. But it is important to keep things at a reasonable level. It is worth the price to lower energy consumption to the level attained at Linero, but more extensive changes will cost more than they save, Jeanette Green says.

Life cycle analyses carried out by IVL show that it is more climate-friendly to retrofit buildings to comply with new construction energy performance levels than to demolish them prematurely and build new ones.

As the houses at Linero are typical of the million programme, the experience amassed here will be valuable for large-scale projects elsewhere in Sweden. Botkyrka and Värmdö are two municipalities that have benefited from the Cityfied project. Now it is hoped that insights gained here will spread even further afield.

– It should be attractive for property owners to take a more long-term energy efficiency approach when buildings need to be overhauled. Projects like Cityfied are important for demonstrating possibilities, but if there is to be any large-scale impact political decisions at national levels are required, says Markus Paulsson, energy strategist at Lund municipality and Cityfied project manager.

For more information, please contact:
Jeanette Green, IVL Svenska Miljöinstitutet, jeanette.green@ivl.se, +46 (0)10-788 67 40
Markus Paulsson, Lunds kommun, project leader Cityfied Sverige, markus.paulsson@lund.se, +46 (0)46-359 53 36

Swedish partners in the EU Cityfied project are: LKF, Kraftringen, Lund municipality and IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute. Cityfied maintains large-scale demo sites in Lund, Valladolid in Spain and Soma in Turkey. 2,300 apartments with a total area of 220,000 square meters are being renovated. Read more at http://se.cityfied.eu/