Energy Efficiency in the Housing Sector – The Swedish Case’
Conference contribution, 2010
This paper discusses the situation for energy efficiency of existing housing in Sweden with focus on major retrofitting and transformation projects of post-war boom era multi-dwelling housing managed by public housing companies. The built environment has been pointed out as a key area for Sweden’s societal energy savings. The objectives for energy efficiency are 20% reduction by 2020 and 50% reduction by 2050. The housing sector use about 40 % of the societal energy of which a high proportion is heating. Sweden has large stocks of technically deteriorating multi-dwelling housing from the so called million homes programme 1965 – 1970. Of these, 38 % are public housing and use district heating. In the coming ten year period about 300.000 are in need of technical retrofitting. As major retrofitting projects are scarce and only carried out in 30 to 40 years cycles, it is important that the right decisions are taken. Many of these dwellings are found in areas with social problems and the owners and managers of the stocks work under strained economic conditions. The challenge to find solutions applicable on the broad scale also adaptable for tight budgets is urgent.
The paper gives an overview of the Swedish housing sector: heating systems, fuels and energy use in relation to owner categories, forms of tenure and years of construction; and a presentation of policy instruments for decreased energy use and conversion from fossil fuels and electricity to bio-fuels or district heating. Further two case studies of demonstration projects of housing form the million homes programme are presented.
The results show that few policy instruments have targeted multi-dwelling buildings. There have been opportunities for funding for renewal combining energy, environmental, and social aims. Energy performance declarations do not seem to a strong driver for energy efficiency among owners or tenants. Individual projects show that the potential for energy efficiency with existing technology is high. However, there is an efficiency gap between what is possible and what is implemented on the large scale where technical knowledge among owners and economy are major hindrances. The study points out the need for further studies of the decisive function of public housing companies in relation to retrofitting of existing housing, their routines, competences, and drivers and the possibility for shared knowledge resources among non-competitive clients. Further the paper discusses the hindrance of short-term economy and points out the benefit of raised municipal or governmental involvement as energy efficient retrofitting often are part of transformation processes which have been linked to wider societal benefit (e.g. lowered crime rates and unemployment).