Sustainability | Renewable Energy

Fossil fuel-free Vaxjo


Vaxjo, Sweden is a small city with fewer than 100,000 residents.  The city is on a path to become fossil fuel-free by 2030. In focusing on this target, Vaxjo prioritizes renewable energy, energy efficiency, district heating, cogeneration, green urban planning, and green building practices. Vaxjo is also investing in low emission fuel technologies for sustainable transit.


Vaxjo, Sweden

Net Zero Goals in Vaxjo, Sweden

Vaxjo was the first city in the world to set a goal of becoming fossil fuel-free. The city did so back in 1991, and the fossil-free goal is set for the year 2030. Additionally, the entire country of Sweden plans to become the world's first country that's based on a fossil fuel-free economy.

Vaxjo also has a net zero goal, as does the city's home country. Sweden has a goal of achieving net zero emissions by 2045 (a net zero goal Vaxjo is sure to meet ahead of schedule). Vaxjo has already reduced the city's per-capita CO2 emissions by over 1/2.


Fossil fuel-free Vaxjo programs include:

[please see the Vaxjo fossil fuel-free declaration at the bottom of this article for more details]


Vaxjo's GREEN Urban Planning | Sustainable Transit in Vaxjo

lake with a walkway in Vaxjo, Sweden

Vaxjo has a small population (of under 100,000), with around 3 people to every car, so the transformation to a fossil-free society might be relatively simple.

Most of Vaxjo's land consists of either forest, parks, other green spaces, or farms. Vaxjo municipality is home to over 200 lakes.

Vaxjo makes use of its very unique geography, as over half of the city is covered by forest, to produce renewable energy. The city is recognized internationally as a city that leads the world in locally sourced renewable energy.

pedestrian street in the city center of Vaxjo

Vaxjo has a 150km bike-path system and a bus fleet running on biogas from waste (waste-to-energy, or W2E). By 2015, such measures had already resulted in cutting the city's per-capita GHGs in half compared to 1993 levels - on its path to becoming fossil fuel-free by 2030.

Vaxjo continues to maintain the bicycle path network so that it remains fast, easy, convenient, and safe to cycle in Vaxjo. In addition, streets in the Vaxjo city center feature pedestrian-only (and cycling-only) car-free zones.

The use of green urban planning in the development of the city has helped Vaxjo remain sustainable. The city has retained its natural setting which helps Vaxjo promote cycling and walking. 

FROM  -    Vaxjo fossil-fuel free declaration     -

"Sustainable travel

Växjö is investing in sustainable travel on foot, by bicycle and by public transport. Our buses run on renewable fuel and we plan to lay cycle superhighways for quick and easy travel within the municipality. Växjö will lead the way in sustainable travel with the implementation of 52 identified measures by 2020. Växjö is part of a region and we need a simple and attractive regional infrastructure that provides accessibility without fossil fuels."  


Biomass and Cogeneration in Vaxjo

Vaxjo, Sweden

Biomass and biofuels, mostly sourced from forestry - wood chips, sawdust, bark, etc... (all forestry remnants) represent the city's primary energy sources. Vaxjo also sources agricultural waste, municipal waste, and other organic biomass waste streams in their bioenergetic production.

Bioenergy represents the major form of renewable energy in Vaxjo. Production of energy from biomass, and biofuel for cars/ buses, are also the main components of the fossil fuel-free plan.

Another part of the fossil-free plan includes the installation of solar panels in residences, municipal buildings, and industrial buildings. A relatively small share of energy is brought in from outside the city, with hydropower as the leading source of imported renewable energy.

However, Vaxjo still remains predominantly known for its production of locally-sourced, organic biomass energy.

In addition to a goal of switching entirely to renewable energy, the majority of which is in the form of local cogeneration, Vaxjo is focused on expanding sustainable low carbon transit. Biomass, biofuel, and biogas, power the municipality of Vaxjo. Bioenergy is the primary power source for city buildings, residences, and public transit.

Vaxjo's biomass production has a low environmental impact; making good use of waste from the city's primary industry - forestry. [Please see this link: "more than 90% of the energy used for heating and about half of all electricity used in the city is derived from wood waste from the local forest industry."] Thus, Vaxjo's primary sources of energy simply make good use of organic waste, turning waste into energy feedstocks, instead of wasting potential beneficial organic materials.


Sandvik II CHP plant in Vaxjo - biofuel-based cogeneration plant

Vaxjo sources a large share of its district heating from one biomass CHP plant (Sandvik II - pictured here), as well as a few smaller local district heating plants.

The municipality of Vaxjo ensures that forestry waste is transformed into biomass energy, which is fuel for the city's large CHP plant, Sandvik.

Sandvik uses biomass energy in the cogeneration process to provide heat to the city of Vaxjo through district heating. Vaxjo also uses electricity sourced from this same CHP power plant to power most of the buildings and industry in the city.

Wood chips and other organic biomass feedstocks (produced by logging/ forestry, as well as other forestry/ agricultural organic waste) are the main sources of fuel for Sandvik. The need for fossil fuels has dropped steadily as biomass has taken over as the dominant low-carbon energy source for the city.

Vaxjo meets the city's energy efficiency goals by doing everything from using cogeneration and district heating, to solar panels on public buildings, to the practice of timber construction. Vaxjo's building practices increase energy efficiency, reducing the energy demand to the municipality. The construction of energy efficient housing allows more resources to be devoted to the reduction of fossil fuel dependence.


Green Building in Vaxjo

Vaxjo has been constructing passive zero-net energy commercial buildings, passive single-family residential homes, and even passive high-rise apartments.

Passivhaus construction is practiced on commercial residential buildings in Vaxjo

Passive construction in Vaxjo's buildings and homes entails the use of all-timber to build the structures.

In passive buildings (construction following strict Passivhaus standards), the walls are thick, buildings are air-tight and well-insulated, and the windows are double or triple-pane. These energy efficient building measures ensure that all solar gains, heat from ovens and other appliances, human (and pet) activity, etc... are trapped inside while the cold outside air is blocked.

Vaxjo homes and high-rises also have ventilators (balanced heat- and moisture-recovery ventilation, usually in the attic) that also serve to transport the human-generated heat back into the buildings. Passive buildings are structured to recycle wastewater, which also contains valuable heat.


For more on Passivhaus (passive house) construction in Vaxjo, see the below article>>>

Please click & read:

Vaxjo, Sweden - passive homes (and other sustainable construction practices in Vaxjo)


Residences not connected to the district heating network in Vaxjo are offered technology by the municipality to convert their home heating systems into renewable energy-based systems.

Newly developed energy efficient buildings in Vaxjo implement a variety of modern efficiency standards, such as strictly tested airtightness levels, efficiency standards for ventilation, and smart metering of energy consumption.

There are energy efficiency training programs for the local builders provided by the municipality. The primary type of new construction in Vaxjo is wooden passive homes.

In fact, some new homes and buildings constructed in Vaxjo get enough energy from biomass and solar to actually be plus-energy buildings (generating more energy than the building consumes), similar to residences in Vauban, Germany.


Here's a more detailed list of ambitious sustainability priorities that Vaxjo has focused on in its quest to become fossil fuel-free:

"Energy supply

Växjö has built a combined heat and power plant that produces fossil fuel free heating, cooling and electricity. Household organic waste is collected and made into biogas for buses and cars. The proportion of renewable fuels in the transport sector must increase.

We already know that it is technically possible to produce renewable vehicle fuel in our combined heat and power plant, but it is a major financial risk for one individual actor. Växjö urges the Swedish Government to form an economic structure that makes investments in the production of renewable energy profitable. Växjö urges European local authorities to switch to fossil fuel free energy systems.

Sustainable travel

Växjö is investing in sustainable travel on foot, by bicycle and by public transport. Our buses run on renewable fuel and we plan to lay cycle superhighways for quick and easy travel within the municipality. Växjö will lead the way in sustainable travel with the implementation of 52 identified measures by 2020.

Växjö is part of a region and we need a simple and attractive regional infrastructure that provides accessibility without fossil fuels. We need high-speed trains via Växjö to open up national and international travel possibilities. Växjö urges the Swedish Government to invest in double tracks on existing railways and in a high-speed track via Växjö and other regional centres. Växjö urges European local authorities to design towns in a way that promote sustainable transport systems.

Buildings

passive residential building in Vaxjo

Växjö builds in wood. We build passive houses, low-energy houses and energy plus houses in close collaboration between the municipality, private sector and academia.

Together with industry and other local authorities in Europe, Växjö is carrying out extensive and innovative energy efficiency improvements in its housing stock.

We are finding it difficult to make sufficiently progressive energy requirements due to the national building regulations being too weak and the law preventing municipalities from setting specific requirements.

Växjö also feels there is a lack of satisfactory methods and procedures to ensure compliance with the building regulations laid down by the Swedish National Board of Building, Planning and Housing (Boverket).

Växjö urges the Swedish Government to give Boverket the task of substantially sharpening the energy requirements of current building norms by prioritizing renewable district heating before electricity as a heating source and ensuring that energy requirements are actually complied with.

Växjö also urges the Swedish Government to once again let Swedish municipalities go first in line in making special environmental and energy demands for land sales. Växjö urges European local authorities to make long-term sustainable investments to reduce the energy consumption of buildings.

Consumption

Växjö will also take responsibility for its own indirect climate impact, i.e. from our own consumption. A growing world population and limited natural resources demands a change in the raw material flows. We will switch from being a society that continuously seeks new resources, utilises them and then discards them, to a society based on sustainable cycles. Extending the life cycle of products, enhancing the quality of newly manufactured products and facilitating re-use saves enormously on resources.

Växjö will establish a knowledge transfer centre for circular economy, a reuse village and draw up local control measures for promoting circular economy. Växjö urges the Swedish Government to draw up control measures that favour circular economy. Växjö urges European local authorities to promote circular economy.

In Växjö we work transnationally to achieve our goal of becoming free from fossil fuels. Växjö has earned the reputation of being the Greenest City in Europe. Växjö leads the way in creating a fossil fuel free society and does it in broad collaboration.

To make it possible to achieve the goal, clear decisive leadership is required at national and international levels that lead to a more innovative private sector with great economic development potential. Växjö urges the Swedish Government to set a goal of becoming the world’s first fossil fuel free nation and to urge the European Commission to decide on binding climate goals for the European Union."

FROM - Vaxjo fossil-fuel free declaration


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3 Comments

  1. Please let us here at Green City Times know what you think in a comment; and we’ll try and answer any questions as well.

    Please also visit our other blog at https://greencitytimes.blogspot.com

    [Dan Braff is the founder of GCT –

    Daniel Braff
    about.me/gctimes]

    • Hello Dan Braff
      It was very nice to get a chance to read about Vaxjo. I have been to the place several time to meet my sister there. At this moment I am taking Urban Planning at the California State Univeristy Pomona. I have started a meetup group called “building Communities” that focuses on the asthetic sense of the land and space then just graphic designing of buildings. This article is a perfect example of what I am trying to promote here in CA.

      Mr. Dan Braff I do not know if that would be a good question to ask you but after several attempts trying to get information I gravited to finding information of Urban planning programs (students and teachers) from Sweden especially from Vaxjo. Can you help me contact students and faculty in this area I would love to invite them to my meetup group for my online events. I would also like to invite you become our member. It is a free meetup membership and free events. This way we can exchange related information and get to learn what is going on on the other part of the world.

      You can check out the meetup by going to meetup.com and search for “Building Communities” by The Big Impact events

      or click here https://www.meetup.com/Building-Communities/

      Thank you
      Best Regards
      Zia
      1-714-280-3730

      • I would like to spend time contacting academics in the Sustainability field for this, but I presently am short on extra time. I myself have recently been a Masters student here at Xavier University in their Sustainability and Urban Resilience program. I would like to explore your new Meetup platform once I have more free time, hopefully in a few weeks.

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