Sunday, June 3, 2007

Eco-Living in Sweden

When my family and I traveled through Sweden recently, I was struck by the modern look of their cities. In fact, I was told that one of their kings had long ago ordered the demolishing of their castles in an attempt to discourage the hording of power among the nobles. I'd forgotten that Sweden is one of the leading countries in environmental awareness and environmental technology. I was just cleaning up my office lately and found an old (1993) but still relevant article by Canadian urban planner, Angela Evans, in Alternatives on "Eco-Living in Sweden". It talked about Swedish people building "eco-villages" built with solar technology, recycling and other environmental innovations.

The Swedish government is commited to environmentally-friendly living and supports the technology that helps them achieve this. By 1994 all household garbage had to be separated. 2010 is marked as the final year of nuclear power in the country.
Swedes are driving this movement, by making it known that they want to live in buildings which consume less energy and are less toxic and which make recycling and the sharing of resources easier. When we visited my aunt in Malmo, I was struck by the number of cyclists, both young and old, using the roads and the environmental programs associated with the apartment building my aunt lived in. Here are some of their eco-village criteria:

  • every dwelling should have access to arable land;
  • cool storage facilities not dependent on outside energy should be provided on site;
  • water should be taken from a well on site if it is potable;
  • sewage pipes should be separated from pipes carrying wastewater from baths, sinks and washing machines. All wastewater should be treated locally;
  • garbage should be sorted at the source, and all compostable wastes from households, gardens, etc. should be composed locally;
  • storm, or surface water should be filtered on the property;
  • houses may not be built on land that slopes from northwest through north to northeast;
  • houses must not be located in such a way that more than 25 percent of total solar radiation is blocked;
  • buildings should be protected against the wind;
  • heat consumption in residential rooms should not exceed 75 kilowatt hours per square metre per year. Heating ot hot tap water should be done using renewable energy sources to the greates possible extent;
  • where conditions allow, electricity should be generated from wind power; and,
  • air circulation should be provided using natural drafts or ventilation as required.
Evans suggested that these eco-villages provided examples of "pleasant living environments at higher densities than the single family developments and offer so much more--socially, aesthetically and environmentally--than the tracts of lumpy townhouses generally seen as the only alternative in Canada." Although this information was from an article written almost 10 years ago, I find it still very relevent. I'm still seeing a lot of townhouses here and very little evidence of solar panels or wind power.

Nina Munteanu is an ecologist and internationally published author of novels, short stories and essays. She coaches writers and teaches writing at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. For more about Nina’s coaching & workshops visit Visit for more about her writing.


Nick Phillips, MY said...

Nice place that Sweden :) I wish someone would come and educate the the people in my country about being environmentally friendly!

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Sweden looks som clean and advanced.

Noticed that you're an Enya fan, and like Thomas Hardy and Joanne Harrris' 'Chocolat'. I do too.

sfgirl said...

It IS a nice place, Nick. But I do like my home in Canada. What's interesting is that because Canada and Sweden are so similar in environment and to some extect our social network, that we should be doing the same things they are. But we aren't!

Hey, Jean-Luc! You have great taste in music and literature!!!

S. Camille Crawford said...

Great blog Nina, thanks for visiting me. You've done very good work here. Science and sci-fi... makes sense to me!

sfgirl said...

Thanks, Camille! It made sense to me at the time...still does. By embracing science in my art, I feel like I am a part of Gaia, letting her lead me on a great journey that brings truth and fantasy together.

Nothingman said...

hey, thanks for the visit on my blog....I like sci-fi!
By the way, today june 5 is environment day, did you know?

I remember going to a small village once and this poor farmer had a solar panel in his earthen house, he didn't even know the name of 'that shiny thing' he just knew that keeping it in sun somehow powers the little bulb that he had in his single room house....your post reminded me of that somehow...:)

We are destroying the planet really i wish all governments would wake up to the fact like that of Sweden...
take care!

A Story A Day

sfgirl said...

Thanks, Nothingman, for the comment. Curious what village it was you visited. What country? p.s. you have one sick puppy of a site. I may have to visit often :)

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Nina, I've added you to my bloglist.

sfgirl said...

Cool, Jean-Luc! Thanks!