Environment and Resource efficiency
the World-first self-sufficient housing planned in Jönköping, Sweden
Vätterhem YEAH is a world unique housing project where 44 apartments in two buildings are self-sufficient in energy, water and also in taking care of their own wastewater. These buildings will be the first and largest buildings in the region that are not connected to any municipal network – making them 100% off-grid. The project is developed by municipal housing provider Vätterhem in collaboration with Yellon, a future-oriented architecture, design and communications firm focused on making the world a little better.
Municipal housing provider Vätterhem has been working with the YEAH (Yellon Environmental Aesthetic Housing) concept for over four years, in partnership with a range of expert companies in different areas. Implementing a project of this nature would require a housing provider that builds with long-term management in focus, because the initial investment is rather substantial. This is how Yellon reached Vätterhem with the idea. Vätterhem’s management liked the proposal, and for the past year and a half both parties have been sharing ownership of the concept and pursuing the project. For Vätterhem, the YEAH concept could possibly develop to become their new way of building for the future. They hope to transfer parts of the technology to our roughly 9000 residences in Jönköping. It’s a matter of reducing their climate footprint while keeping our property management costs down. Vätterhem’s mission is to develop and manage good properties at a reasonable cost for the residents. This project is an aspect of that work. Discussions with both politicians and municipal officials from various bodies are thus an important part of the work to make the Vätterhem YEAH project a reality. The final decision to actually build has not yet been made. It depends in part on finances and in part on a number of applications and decisions to be made in municipal committees.
According to Pär Löfstedt, Project Manager at Yellon, Sweden ….:
- The electrical infrastructure is sensitive to overloads, storms and sabotage. In addition, there is no good way of storing energy – it is produced when it’s needed. Their dependence on electricity is constantly growing.
- Wastewater systems and drinking water networks are underdimensioned and outdated. E.coli bacteria is often found in the drinking water usually due to effluent leaking or overflowing into stormwater systems and then flowing into drinking water sources. Sometimes this happens because treatment plants are overloaded, other times because it flows into leaking water pipes.
- The average for losses due to leakage in Sweden’s municipalities is 35% – this means that more than a third of the load placed on water treatment plants simply disappears. Water needs to be often chlorinated, in part because growth can occur in long pipelines, and in part because dirt can leak in where water leaks out. For instance, in the island of Öland, where there is a shortage of water, the leakage from the water supply network is over 40%.
- The stormwater networks are not capable of handling heavier rainfall – this applies generally to all urban areas in the country. The existing Swedish networks are not adapted to today’s urban densification. Moreover, with the expansion of hard surfaces in the form of parking lots, roads, sidewalks and flagstone, even more pressure is put on stormwater networks. This is an issue the municipality of Jönköping has long been working with.
Actions carried out
- Solar power will be the basis for energy supply – the facades, roofs and glazing will be equipped with solar cells of different types, and the electricity will be stored in batteries prior to use. To manage the half-year winter period, the plan is to store energy in hydrogen gas, which will be converted into electricity and heat via fuel cells. Vehicles may also be charged with electricity if there is a large surplus of energy
- Reducing water consumption by 75% – by collecting rain and melt water from roofs and hard land surfaces, water supply can be managed. Due to regulatory requirements for household water of potable quality, drinking water will be separated from hygiene water. Drinking water will come from a private well, and the dirty parts of the kitchen drain will be diverted to the toilet drain. In addition, the private well will serve as a backup if the rainwater should be insufficient, and the size of the rainwater reservoir can be reduced.
- Purifying of toilet wastewater – unwanted waste will first be separated out of the system: cotton swabs, sanitary pads, etc., which often end up in the toilet. Thereafter, all toilet water will be cleaned through a natural but forced process (from toilet water to potable in less than one day). The result will not be used for household purposes, however. The recirculated toilet water will be reused for flushing, as well as for irrigation. The forced natural process leaves no residue and removes many of the medicinal remnants, heavy metals and microplastics that make their way into the wastewater.Unwanted waste will first be separated out of the system: cotton swabs, sanitary pads, etc., which often end up in the toilet. Thereafter, all toilet water will be cleaned through a natural but forced process (from toilet water to potable in less than one day). The result will not be used for household purposes, however. The recirculated toilet water will be reused for flushing, as well as for irrigation. The forced natural process leaves no residue and removes many of the medicinal remnants, heavy metals and microplastics that make their way into the wastewater.
- Circular design and construction by using use climate-smart building materials to the greatest possible extent – the architecture will be shaped to make the best use of the resources on site. Instead of incorporating technology into preconceived buildings, the buildings will be adapted to the technology and site.
- Garbage disposal – by reducing waste, a cleanliness of around 97% will be achieved in the food waste and at least 95% for the other fractions. Clean food waste provides preconditions for biogas and reduced emissions.
- Brining social sustainability – creating varied accommodation that makes it easier for people to meet, ideally across generational boundaries. Residents of Vätterhem YEAH should be able to pursue their housing career throughout life’s different stages: find their first apartment, start a family and move to a larger one, see children move away and live more simply again, and live in pleasant comfort. Creating spaces where people meet naturally is important for social sustainability. Examples might be community rooms, a greenhouse, a bicycle workshop and a laundry room built in the middle of a nice yard created for socializing. Different types of shared economy projects, such as carpools, shared gardening projects, etc., will be developed and tested over time,
A detailed plan for the neighborhood Slåttertiden 1 in Öxnehaga is being prepared in cooperation with the City Building Office. We have conducted a geological survey, and a stormwater investigation is ongoing. The architects at Yellon are working with Skanska, who will do the building, and with Vätterhem’s construction department to provide the basis for the detailed plan and eventually the building permits. The work is currently focused on standard buildings according to Vätterhem’s construction manual, since Vätterhem will build housing whether or not the YEAH concept is used. In parallel, theoretical calculations are being made with regard to economy and all the subsystems that will interact in the YEAH concept. It is estimated that residents will be able to move in by 2023.
Thorbjörn Hammerth, CEO, Vätterhem
+46 70 539 94 20
Pär Löfstedt, Project Manager, Yellon
+46 70 834 51 08