Sweden builds self-supporting sustainable apartment complex
In Sweden, a housing corporation will soon finish 44 self-supporting apartments. Residents will we totally independent of the network for water, electricity, and heat. “We will show the world that all available ecologic methods can manage it all.”
“We’ve searched for existing solutions,” explains Pär Löfstedt of architecture and design bureau Yellon. “Otherwise, it would have taken much more time.” He spent the last three years on the concept, together with a colleague-architect.
“Together, we came to the idea when he wanted to build an additional house on his land on very rocky ground. Installing electricity wires was practically impossible, not to mention water pipes. So, he decided to opt dor a self-supporting solution, and then I wondered whether it would be possible for a complete apartment complex.”
The answer to this question will be ready by 2022 on a hill above Jönköping, in the middle of Sweden. Vätterhem Yeah (Yellon Environmental Aesthetic Housing) will be completely self-supporting. The project will contain two separate buildings with 44 apartments. The apartments will be modest (35 to 90 square meters) because Swedish authorities prefer to support small housing.
Water and electricity
Potable water will come from the ground, and rainwater will be purified to be used by the washing machine, dishwasher, and heat pumps. The building facilities will purify all wastewater. The roof and façade will be covered with solar panels and other electricity-producing materials to provide electricity.
A hydrogen cell in the basement will make sure that electricity can be stored partly in batteries, partly in hydrogen. As soon as the demand for electricity rises, the full-automatic system will transform hydrogen into electricity again.
Heating and cooling
Heating and cooling happen through ‘thermite ventilation’ using underground channels. The system is based on the principle that in the winter, the ground outside the building is warmer than the air, and in the summer, it’s just the opposite.
All this would be useless without first-class insulation and the right mentality of the future residents. They will need to be aware of the limits and live more consciously so that less energy is needed.
“Unique in this concept is that a similar project is planned with 44 ‘normal’ apartments, connected to all necessary utilities, to be able to compare the differences in housing and exploitation costs. “It’s interesting to be able to learn from it,” says Anna Alexandersson, a hydrogen specialist of the Swedish national research institute Rise.
“Sweden is a country that mainly uses electricity, we don’t have a natural gas network. So, there’s still work to be done to convince house owners and tenants that hydrogen is a good option.”
However, the costs of both projects are different: the total cost for the 88 apartments is 23 million euros (240 million Swedish crowns), but making half of those apartments self-supporting, an additional 4,8 million euros (50 million crowns) will be needed,” says Löfstedt of Yellon.
The initiators hope that the Vätterhem project – a world first – will achieve the off-grid building projects’ top.