Energy efficiency improvements
The reduction of energy use is a high priority for the Swedish Association of Public Housing Companies (SABO) and our member companies. We are working together to exceed both international and national energy efficiency improvement targets. One hundred and seven of SABO’s three hundred member companies, which together own around 400,000 apartments, have undertaken to reduce their energy use by 20 per cent between 2007 and 2016 within the framework of the Skåne Initiative. This voluntary initiative was adopted at a conference in Skåne in 2008, hence the name ‘the Skåne Initiative’. The conference, attended by CEOs and chairs of the boards from the public housing sector, voted for a common target, namely to reduce energy use by 20% between 2007 and 2016. Companies were required to sign a declaration of intent, declaring that they intended to work to achieve this target.
Participating companies report their energy use annually to SABO, which follows up how things are going. Energy use among participating companies reduced by just over 15% by the end of 2014; a fantastic result. This was achieved by many different measures, such as energy efficiency improvements in conjunction with renovation work (such as supplementary insulation, replacement windows and heat recovery of ventilation air), by replacing lighting, improving the efficiency of fans, pumps and laundry rooms, trimming and much more. SABO supports its member companies in their energy efficiency improvement work by, among other things, arranging networks and conferences for the exchange of experience and inspiration. SABO also conducts development projects within energy efficiency improvements and organises study visit and courses.
Technical measures are not enough to achieve the entire target, but the behaviour of both staff and residents also needs to change. SABO has therefore produced extensive energy saving campaign material directed at residents, including tips about how to save energy. The campaign is being carried out in collaboration with the Swedish Union of Tenants, the Energy Agency and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation. A number of simple energy tips directed at tenants have been produced within the framework of the campaign. These include tips for saving water, saving energy in laundry rooms, switching off standby electricity, how to furnish your apartment, etc. These tips are communicated, among other things, through short films combining facts with humour, with Harry Bengtsson, an energy worker, in the main role. Tips are also conveyed via brochures, posters and many other things and can be adapted and used locally by each member company. One hundred and fifty-one of SABO’s three hundred member companies are participating in the energy saving campaign.
The preconditions for energy efficiency improvements in Sweden’s multi-dwelling buildings differ from many other countries. The heating of apartments in multi-dwelling buildings has for many years been dominated by the use of a joint heating system with water as a medium for the building. Ninety-eight per cent of all apartments are supplied by pipe systems with radiators as heaters. One pipe trunk can supply several apartments with heating and one apartment can be supplied by several pipe trunks. The rent for apartments in Sweden includes heating. No shared incentive exists, but the property owner can take appropriate measures to reduce energy use. This may, for instance, involve supplementary insulation in the attic, insulation of the facade, change of windows, introduction of heat recovery and trimming of the heating system. Such measures do not only improve the building itself but also increase indoor comfort for the tenants.
From a European perspective Sweden has a cold climate with well-insulated climate shells that envelope buildings but no insulation between apartments. Swedish municipal public housing companies try to maintain the same temperature in all apartments in their property stock to minimise energy use. The residents themselves cannot adjust the temperature, which is controlled centrally in the building. There is normally a guaranteed temperature of 20 to 21°C in apartments. The inclusion of heating in rents means that there is no energy poverty in Swedish apartments. As a consequence of these circumstances, we have concluded in Sweden that it is not cost effective to install individual metering and billing for heating, but that this would increase energy use instead and have a considerable negative impact on energy efficiency improvements among SABO’s member companies. SABO explains this further in the following reports.