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Cover page | Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ekostaden – Europe's first eco-city

Ekostaden – Europe's first eco-city

Europe's most significant initiative on environmental awareness was undertaken in the former harbour of Malmö, Sweden, where the continent's first eco-city was built. The city district is fully self-sufficient, providing all the necessary energy by the use of renewable energy sources and waste recovery. The project was launched ten years ago, when this urban area used to be a huge deserted industrial site with assembly plants and manufacturing complexes.

Ecostaden produces all the energy used by the districtEcostaden produces all the energy used by the district

The major characteristic of Malmö's new urban area is that the entire city district is supplied with 100 % locally renewable energy. A local 2 MW wind power plant provides the electricity needed to power the heat pumps and also supplies 1,000 apartments with electricity. Solar panels in the area absorb the heat from the sun and warm the water in the pipes in the panels. There are solar panels, solar cells and underground thermalmass storage facilities. The heat is then used warm up the water in the radiators and in the taps. The apartments' energy requirements are minimal: according to calculations, they need 105 kWh/m2 energy annually, air conditioning during summer time—provided by the cold water gained from the underground layers—included.

The buildings are located in a structure so that the internal part of the district is protected from the powerful wind blowsThe buildings are located in a structure so that the internal part of the district is protected from the powerful wind blows

Public transport within the urban area is solved by bicycles and biofuelled buses, and ecological sustainability is created by energy efficiency, the discontinued use of poisonous substances, source sorting in the near vicinity, local surface water handling and much more. The communities living in the blocks of flats also had to establish at least ten so-called Green Dots, either in the form of a bird's nest, a flower, or a vegetable garden.

Under the leadership of the Swedish government, Malmö has become an excellent model of an ecologically sustainable city. The former government formed a commission on oil independence by 2020 by becoming a fully self-suffiecient country, which satisfies its energy demands with the use of 100% renewable or bioenergy sources.

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