Might success in Sweden inspire the Finns to reduce energy use in buildnings?

Might success in Sweden inspire the Finns to reduce energy use in buildnings?

The following is another example of WWF Finland’s Smart Climate Solutions case studies.

Energy efficiency in buildings – low-energy and passive houses spreading in Sweden   

Description of climate policy measure Since 1990 the level of GHG emission from buildings has been reduced by over 70 % inSweden

The overall decrease has primarily been achieved due to a switch from oil to district heating, accompanied in recent years by an increase in heat pumps and pellet solutions. This development has been strongly driven by C02-taxes and high oil prices that have provided a clear price signal but a mixture of accompanying policy measures has also contributed to the high speed of conversions. Sweden has rather low emissions from the electricity and heating sectors but this is more due to choice of primary energy sources than low overall consumption of electricity

The sector of residential buildings and service organizations still consumes 36% of the total energy inSweden

Consequently, in June 2006 the Swedish parliament decided that the energy use in residential buildings and premises should decrease by 20% per heated unit area before 2020. In order to reach this goal, it is clear that more energy efficient buildings must be produced as well as energy efficient improvements must be performed on the existing building stock. One way to reduce the use of energy in buildings is to build passive houses and set corresponding targets for renovations.   Key challenges in implementation and drivers/reasons of success Passive houses do not require any new technology development per se and the key barriers hampering market penetration and growth have been primarily related to lack of coordinated information, knowledgeable passive house construction experts and uncertainty of future energy efficiency requirements. While the overall policy mixture in Sweden (including environmental taxes on electricity and heating oil, construction standards, financial incentives, public procurement and R&D efforts) has provided a sufficient framework for breaking the barriers, the market pull has been created by proactive forerunners from local level, cities, municipalities as well as private citizens and bigger construction companies raising to the challenge. An active dialog (facilitated by the by “Bygga-Bo-dialogen, launched 2003) between communes, construction companies, property owners, banks, insurance companies and the government has been an important part of providing the required knowledge base and coordination for a more sustainable construction and building sector in Sweden.  Assessment of CO2-emission reductions and if available any preliminary estimates of emission reduction costs (euro ton/CO2ekv)

Passive houses have the potential to cut the amount of energy required for heating by some 60% in comparison to existing construction standards for new buildings in Sweden. Depending on the choice of energy for heating, passive houses can consequently contribute to important emission cuts on national level. With regards to reconstruction of the existing building stock, on-going projects indicate that energy consumption can be reduced by over 50% through low-energy renovation solutions.

Presentation of existing estimates concerning ancillary (effects) benefits The international experiences from over 10 000 passive houses built in Germany, 3000 in Austria as well as 1500 in Sweden and Norway indicate that construction costs for passive houses are slightly higher but with good planning can be limited to only some percentages of the total costs. The higher initial investment costs are counterbalanced through lower energy costs in a rather short period of time. On the national level, the lower energy consumption of passive houses contributes to cost-efficient national mitigation efforts. In addition, combined with renewable energy (RE) systems such as solar (PV, active solar water heating) or small biofuel CHP (wood chip, biodiesel, pellet etc) and net metering, the passive houses can turn active – a development already taking place in several forerunner passive house countries.

Preliminary assessment of feasibility and any required modifications for similar policy measures in Finland The international lessons learned provide a good basis for Finland to enter into the low energy and passive house arena. In Finland, a clear and ambitious long-term target is required to provide the right signal for a sustainable building sector, covering both the reconstruction of existing buildings as well as new buildings.  The experiences from Sweden indicate that the market for low-energy and passive houses can rapidly be developed, as long as the right price signals and framework conditions are in place.  An energy efficient reconstruction of the existing building stock in Finland could contribute to energy savings of over 12 TWh, corresponding to cuts in greenhouse gasses of some 3,5  MtCO2 by 2020. 

With regards to new buildings, passive houses in Finland could cut the consumption of heating energy by 75-80% in comparison to existing construction standards. Several on-going national initiatives can be harnessed to guarantee that the required standards are set high enough (step wise low-energy, passive house and zero-energy), the country specific knowledge base is efficiently created and information nationally shared. Municipalities can take a lead role in creating sustainable and attractive living conditions for their citizens and the private sector. It is crucial that the forthcoming demonstration experiences in Finland are systematically analyzed, the results monitored and consequently education for the lacking construction expertise tailored and provided.


Styrmedel i klimatpolitiken. Delrapport 2 i Energimyndighetens och Naturvårdsverkets underlag till Kontrollstation 2008 In comparison to other OECD countries the Swedish per capita electricity consumption is very high, due to a.o. a high share of energy intensive industry and electricity as heating source in households.Passive houses in Sweden, Experiences from design and construction phase, Ulla Janson (2008) Marknadsöversikt för passivhus och lågenergihus i Sverige 2007. Ökande efterfrågan på energieffektivt boende och energieffektiva produkter September, 2007. Forum för energieffektiva byggnader. In Southern and Central Europe the upper limit has been set at 15 kWh/m2/year. In Finland, due to different climate conditions and geographical location, the limit is around 20-30 kWh/m2/year. According to the International Energy Agency, existing buildings are responsible for over 40% of the world’s total primary energy consumption and account for 24% of world carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Se also Promoting Energy Efficiency Investments: Case Studies in the Residential Sector, IEA (2008) E.g. at Brogården (Alingsås Sweden) the on-going renovation (2007-2009) of some 300 apartments built in 1970 is estimated to cut the energy consumption from ca 216 to ca 90 kWh/m2/year. Solfångare och fjärrvärme med miljövänlig flis kommer förse lägenheterna med varmvatten och den spetsvärme som behövs. Forerunner countries including Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, UK, some forerunner US states with first experiences being gathered also in Sweden (see e.g.Frillesås Kungsbacka, Sweden). When your system is net metered, power that the system generates can be used first by your house loads, and then (if there is extra power) fed back into the utility grid to power other loads When you are drawing power from the utility (i.e. when your RE system is not supplying enough power for your electric loads), your meter will run forwards. When your system is feeding power back into the grid, your meter will run backwards.


 Energiatehokkuustoimet kasvihuonekaasupäästöjen vähentämisessä, Gaia Consulting Oy (2008)

 The on-going preparations of the national climate and energy strategy in Finlandand its follow-up covering specifically energy saving. National programs such as Tekes (Kestävä Yhdyskunta), Sitra (Energiaohjelma), Motiva (Energiatehokas koti) should also contribute to energy efficiency in buildings.


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