Sustainable Urban Development in Hammarby and opportunities for lessons learned for Macedonia at the Forum in Stockholm

posted May 17, 2017

Macedonia2025 is organizing a networking and business forum in Stockholm, whose purpose is to encourage cooperation, to present successful cooperation and to promote Macedonia’s potentials for business and development. The forum will also reflect on Sweden’s experience in sustainable development. Swedish experts will talk about their experience in the use of the latest technologies and innovations in urban development. In that regard, we will present the example of the Hammarby neighborhood of Stockholm, which since 1996 and onwards, is an incubator for urban development focused on decreasing the ecological footprint of industry and people. The article will also give a quick glance at Macedonia’s overlooked potential for sustainable urban development around renewable sources of energy.

Hammarby, a former industrial zone reimagined

In the past few decades Hammarby has been transforming itself from a former industrial zone into a space for eco and sustainable urban living. The development of Hammarby is part of the initiative launched by the China Development Bank Capital which includes several other cities around the world. The example of Hammarby has been identified as an “economically, ecologically and socially successful area.” The area’s development has been carried out in compliance with the Twelve Green Guidelines, a reference frame set forth by the China Development Bank Capital.

Long-term planning of the transformation

The direction of Hammarby’s urban development was set forth in the Environmental Program, which was adopted by the City Council in 1996.  

‘‘The environmental performance of the city district should be twice as good as the state of the art technology available in the present day construction field. …..In order to achieve these goals lifestyles need to be re-examined, new technological solutions developed, and a more holistic view of planning implemented. The city district is to be planned and built in accordance with the principles of the natural cycles and Hammarby Sjöstad to serve as a spearhead for the movement towards ecological and environmentally friendly construction work and housing.”

The project’s objectives had been set high up in order to create a positive pressure on the development of the innovations and the transformation that has since taken place in technology and infrastructure, as well as in the expectations and concessions made on part of the residents.

As part of the initial set of requirements, 80% of the residents of Hammarby had to rely on public transport, cycling or walking as a form of transportation; the overall demand for energy cannot surpass 60 KwH per meter square, wherein the demand for electric energy cannot be more than 20 KwH per meter square; the remainder of the area’s energy needs must be secured by alternative sources such as solar panels, biofuel, etc.; it should be noted that half of the energy consumption of Stockholm is supplied by a nuclear plant.

100% of the land in Hammarby had to be remedied from chemicals and put into use; water consumption (excluding circulated water) had to be decreased by 50% per resident, according to previously estimated average consumption; each residential unit has to have a side which is not exposed to noise pollution and the equivalent level of noise outside must not be above 40 decibels; residential buildings and retail/industrial capacities had to be constructed with recycled materials in every way that is architecturally and scientifically feasible; the project requires cleaning of ponds and lakes and channeling rainwater towards filtration basins and into Lake Hammarby, instead of the sewer system.

Joint cooperation in the development of Hammarby

Hammarby’s urban redevelopment came as result of multilateral cooperation and synergy. The focus is on the financial prowess of investors who readily speculated with the value of the land and the developed real estate. The financial sector participated with 83% of the overall expense of the project. The selling point was the opportunity to buy into the developing and shaping of an urban environment that attracts with its functionality and ecological piece of mind.

The success of the redevelopment of the area could have been possible without measuring and following a set of crucial parameters that impact the living environment. These parameters relate to energy expenditure, the footprint that is made in the construction process and in day to day consumption and expenditure of the residents, such as cooking, laundry, trash, transport, maintenance, recycling, etc.

It is worthwhile to note that construction companies were required to give a valuation of their environmental impact and submit the sum result to the institutions charged with oversight of the process; this in turn, enabled the companies to receive a rebate according to the Local Investment Program. The sorting and processing of trash and refuse takes up a very important part in the maintaining of the ecological standard. Part of the infrastructure of Hammarby are the vacuum tunnels that transport the various sorts of trash to the corresponding bins which are stored near the buildings or underground.

Quick glance at the possible use of natural resources towards sustainable urban development in Macedonia

Regarding the cyclical use of energy resources, the Hammarby example can inform ways in which to use and reuse natural and industrial resources which are available in Macedonia. One of the often overlooked examples is found in the steel processing plant Zhelezara in Skopje; the hot water, which is a byproduct of the industrial process, is circulated through the adjacent residential neighborhoods, supplying close to 4000 households and around 70 public objects such as kindergartens, schools and sports halls. By deploying a wider infrastructural development, this resource can be extended to other neighborhoods where that is feasible.

Another possibility is found in the use of thermal springs. The Katlanovo spring, which supplies thermal water to the spa located 30 km from the Skopje center, is a great resource that can be the central point in the development of a new residential area in the flat fields in the Skopje valley. The thermal water from the Katlanovo spring can supply residential areas in Skopje through the use of midway reheating stations. This can be made into a closed loop, thus preserving the valuable resource and maintaining its heating capacity.

There are several hot springs across Macedonia that can be the subject of central planning for new residential projects. Such resources are found in the Kezhovica spa near Shtip, in the Debar region, in Strumica and Gevgelija.

“Stockholm is at the vanguard of green urban policymaking on an international level, as shown by it winning the European Commission’s first Green Capital of Europe award in 2010 and by the constant stream of global visitors the city attracts to its sites of ‘sustainable urbanism’” (Rutherford, 2013).

Video of the presentation at the Macedonia2025 Summit in 2016 by Karina Barnholt Klepper, Senior Adviser at Nordic Energy Research, Nordic Council of Ministers

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Official Agenda to the Forum in Stockholm