Tag archives for greentech

Uppsala students want sustainable housing

Uppsala students, awaiting community gardens and solar powered houses. Photo: Tommy Westberg.

Uppsala has one of Sweden’s main universities. With 40.000 students in a city of 200.000, you certainly notice it – Uppsala is full of young people, cultural events and intellectual stimulation.

But one tricky thing is housing. The need is big for small, affordable accommodation and it’s difficult for the university, the city and private companies involved to keep pace with the demand.

In the early 1970:s a neighbourhood called Flogsta, with high blocks of flats was constructed and is now home for many students. But in the future a different approach is needed, a group of students argues. They have started the Plugg-Inn Uppsala project, which aims to give good and sustainable housing to students.

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Ranking or not ranking: Are Swedish companies as green as they think?

arrowsPhoto: Tricia Wang  (CC BY-NC-SA)

There’s something about rankings and lists. Seeing a ranking, no matter what it’s listing, most of us immediately start looking for someone from “our own team” at the top. Somewhere I have worked? Someone that a friend of mine has almost had dinner with? Something Swedish???

Especially when it comes to green rankings, it almost becomes a way to assure oneself. Surely Sweden will find a place up there somewhere! We’re always there, aren’t we?

That’s probably why hardly no Swedish media has mentioned Newsweek’s recently published list of the world’s greenest global companies. The eye was scanning line after line… no Sweden… still no Sweden… had to look at next page of the ranking list – and as (tadaaaa) 49:th company there was finally a Swedish one (Ericsson). Read more » >>

Swedish invention turns air into drinking water

water-dropsMaking water from air? Photo: s_gibson72 (CC: BY NC ND)

Around the world, nearly one billion persons are lacking clean drinking water. But in the future, maybe more people who live in drought affected areas can solve their most imminent problems by a technology developed by two young Swedish inventors. Recently Jonas Wamstad and Fredrik Edström won a prize of 75.000 Swedish Kronor (about 8.200Euro) for their invention, which takes advantage of the sun to extract humidity from the air, without using any electricity. By putting up solar panels on roofs the air is heated up and the water steam absorbed. About three litres of water can be harvested per square metre solar panel and day. Read more » >>

A carmaker against the stream

lars-henriksson

Lars Henriksson at work. Photo: Lotta Törnroth.

Lars Henriksson, who normally spends his days assemblying Volvo cars in Gothenburg, is quite an unusual car worker. The last few years he has been attracting a lot of attention for arguing that the world already has too many cars – so why not use the factories, with their advanced technology and efficient machinery, to produce other things?

book-cover

Lars Henriksson’s book, Slutkört (meaning something like “The end of driving”).

Earlier this year Lars Henriksson collected his thoughts in a book. One of his main points is that a society which is facing both Peak Oil and climate change will need a lot of new technology, like windfarm parts or podcars. He and his colleagues are fully qualified to start manufacturing these things instead of cars, he argues.

Lars Henriksson draws parallells to the Second World War, when the United States managed to switch their car production into making national defence material in just a few months time. Why couldn’t we do that now too, although not being in a war? is his question.

Having been a car worker for over 30 years, this of course isn’t uncontroversial. When a magazine published an interview with Lars Henriksson on the Internet, it soon got a lot of commentaries accusing him of wanting to go back to the Stone Age. Cars give many a sense of freedom and independence. But others seem inspired and hopeful: Could this be a way to keep the jobs in a car industry that has been experiencing hard times lately?

Can underground water cool Stockholm’s city houses?

Houses-by-Sergels-Torg.

The house to the right could be the first one by Sergels Torg to be heated and cooled by undergreound water reserves. Photo: Vasakronan.

We don’t often think about what’s under our feet when walking around in the middle of a city, but in the centre of Stockholm there is actually several aquifers – large underground layers of water-bearing rock or gravel – that can be of great use. Since water has an ability to store heat or cold, these aquifers work a bit like a thermos.

The idea is more or less to pump up the cold water at summer to cool buildings above ground. This makes the water temperature rise a bit. Then the water is pumped back down into the ground and stored until next winter, when it can be used for heating buildings. This gives about three or four times more energy than what is used for pumping the water up and down.

Vasakronan, which is a large property company, hopes to be able to use this technology for example in one of the big high-rise buildings just by Stockholms main square, Sergels Torg. According to Vasakronan’s head of development and environment, this system can save energy equivalent to the energy use of 450 detached houses.

I must confess that to me it’s a bit of a mystery how only a few centigrades of difference in the water’s heat can make this big a difference, and how it can spend several months under ground without losing the heat… But in an article about aquifers in the construction industry journal Byggindustrin, Olle Andersson who is a professor in energy storage at the University of Lund stated that this is actually a technology where scientists actually have failed to find any disadvantages.