Sustainable Urban Planning – Energy

Brandon H.

Sustainable Urban Planning is my main topic of interest and one of the main reasons I feel we are visiting both Sweden and Germany for our renewable energy conquest. Their amount of emphasis put toward energy sustainability is far greater than what we put towards in the United States. I want to know what Sweden and Germany are doing that could be integrated into our society here at home.

One of the bigger issues when considering energy sustainability is to consider it on a commercializing level. How could energy sustainability be achievable in dense urban civilizations where the population density exceeds numbers of five or even ten thousand people per square kilometer? These numbers are realistic numbers as the highest population density in the world currently exceeds even those numbers where Monaco has a population density of 18,630.5 per km2. [1]

The first step in doing this is realizing where the energy losses are coming from. Trying to locate where sustainability is lacking and what must be done about it. Both Germany and Sweden have done this and each of them have attempted to set up a mock civilization representative of urban culture that succeeds in meeting a sustainable energy need. Our first exposure to this will be in Sweden when we hear about Hammarby Sjöstad of Stockholm.


Hammarby Sjöstad

Hammarby Sjöstad was first put together on the drawing board back in 1990 as a highly environmental and ecological city district and is projected on being completed in 2015. The current goals on energy only stem from the amount spent to heat the buildings and operate them each year. To reach the goal two main efforts are being enforced. Firstly, eco-friendly district heating and cooling from a centralized production. Secondly, great emphasis on usage of solar heating .

Hammarby outside the city center

Stockholm currently has a great focus on its centralized production of heat and is a world leader in this field. They emphasize organizing of their waste and using a vacuum system to transport directly to a centralized district heating plant that takes in combustible waste and incinerates it to provide heating and electricity.

Vacuum recycling receptacles

Vacuum recycling receptacles


The general uses of solar energy are in terms of solar cells being used to collect solar energy to be used as electricity as well as using solar energy to heat water. [2,3]

Solar cells atop building of hammarby sjöstad [4]

Solar cells atop building of Hammarby Sjöstad [4]


The German district that is also striving for sustainable energy is Vauban Freiburg. Vauban is Freiburg, Germany’s attempt to a sustainable urban district. Similar plans were/are being put into place as with Stockholm’s Hammarby Sjöstad. [5]

The biggest implementation I noticed while walking the streets of Vauban would be the use of passive housing. Passive housing is simply designing houses to cut down the need of heating and cooling. This is accomplished by orienting the homes pointing towards the south along with many windows on the south side to facilitate natural lighting and heating. The large windows are designed to allow light into the home and heat the inside and retain the heat.

First designed passive homes.

First designed passive homes.

The first passive homes focused on a special siding material that allowed the buildings to cool themselves. They would absorb heat and expand becoming softer up to a certain point before the interior temperature of the home would increase. This allows the home to require less cooling demands.[6,7]

Their biggest accomplishment came with the third generation passive home with implementation of solar cells into each home.

Passive houses with solar paneling.

Passive homes with solar paneling.

The project was great and the homes are able to receive almost all of their heating demands simply from the passive home itself. The project went well, but sadly was not fully finished as only four double homes were put into place and the original plan was to have them extend the rest of the block.

The unfinished strip of the passive homes

The unfinished strip of the passive homes


The best observed ways to cut the energy demand of a district or to at least curb it is to simply design things more efficiently. A more efficiently designed home will be able to utilize more of the natural lighting and heating provided from the sun as opposed to allowing it to go to waste. As well as a more efficient recycling system allows the use of potential energy in combustibles to be utilized for district heating and cooling and electricity instead of simply wasting it in a landfill.



1)”Population density (people per sq. km) in Monaco.” Population density (people per sq. km) in Monaco. Trading Economics, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 8 May 2014. <;.

2) Bild, Milijo. Hammarby Sjöstad. Stockholm: GlashusEtt, Lugnets allé 16-19, 2010. e-Print.

3) Cederquist , Björn. “Hammarby Sjöstad GlashusEtt.” City Tour. Sweden Study Abroad. Centre for environmental information and communication, Stockholm. 12 May 2014. Lecture and tour.

4) Bergström, Ulf. Shot of solar panels atop buildings in Hammarby Sjöstad. 2007. Stockholm.

5) Delleske, Andreas. “vauban°de.” Der Freiburger, 2013. Web. 8 May 2014. .

6) Morris, Craig. “Current Policy.” City Tour. Sweden Study Abroad. Vauban city center, Freiburg. 26 May 2014. Lecture.

7)Merkle , Joachim. “Photovoltaics and a District Tour.” City Tour. Sweden Study Abroad. Vauban city center, Freiburg. 26 May 2014. Lecture and tour.


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