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4 November 2019

Stockholm Blog #11: Beyond GrowSmarter — what is ahead in Stockholm

We have less than two months left of the GrowSmarter project and it is time to look ahead. When we started the project, Stockholm was already growing fast and needed smart solutions for the growth to be sustainable. This growth has only accelerated and 140 000 new apartments and 280 000 new inhabitants are expected by 2030. Combined with the goal of becoming fossil-fuel free in 2040 Stockholm faces some challenges, but are there answers to find in the GrowSmarter project?

Actually, there are. Quite many indeed.

Better use of urban space

One of the first issues of growth is the use of land and city space. We need to use urban space very wisely. Let’s start with waste. What space is necessary for different waste handling methods. The numbers below are from a Swedish study where a waste collection system sorting into three fractions for 1700 households was evaluated:

  Waste collection and land use per household Waste collection land use for 140 000 new apartments
Conventional bin system 0,93 m² 130 000 m²
Conventional automated waste collection system 0,17 m² 24 000 m²

Then we have Envac’s smart waste handling system in Valla Torg. It is collecting 4 fractions, but all in one and the same inlet depositing into one terminal (container). So we collect four fractions and use one third of the space of the conventional AWCS evaluated above. This means that we use less than 0,06 square meters of land per household which would “only” total 8 000 square meters for all new inhabitants expected in Stockholm. Stockholmshem, the housing company, is currently building 160 new apartments near Envac’s smart waste system, and they only need to install the inlets as the terminal can easily handle the waste from these new households.

The same principle applies to the green parking index. The electrical car and cargo bike pool can provide mobility services to inhabitants using only a fraction of the space needed by private cars. Already deployed in Valla Torg, these mobility solutions are also available for the 160 new households thus minimising the need for parking space in the new buildings. This saved parking space alone can pay the additional costs of these mobility services. These are two great examples of smart sustainable solutions which also helps a growing city using its valuable space wisely.

Smarter waste collection leaves more urban space open. Photo: Envac

Re-using and storing power

We also need to heat up these 140 000 new apartments. In Stockholm, most buildings are connected to the district heating system. Stockholm Exergi has proved in GrowSmarter that waste heat from data centers or supermarkets can heat up buildings. In 2018 these and other waste heat sources heated up 31 000 apartments. The ongoing installations alone can heat up an additional 27 000 apartments in Stockholm. That means almost 60 000 apartments are heated up with heat that used to go to waste. With the expansion of data centers in Sweden it is not a far-fetched idea that all the 140 000 apartments could be heated with waste heat from data centers. There are data center providers which build their data centers under ground, thus not taking valuable space above ground, but still providing waste heat to the district heating system.

Waste heat recovery from data center. Photo: Stockholms Exergi


Stockholm still needs to reduce the need for heat in buildings. Skanska showed together with Stockholmshem and L&T that it is possible to reduce the energy need in existing buildings up to 75%. On a larger scale, Stockholmshem found, it is economically feasible to reduce energy use in existing buildings with the solutions installed in Valla Torg by 50%. Combining waste heat recovery with energy efficient refurbishment is one approach that could help Stockholm phase out the last coal and oil used in district heating well before 2030.

Stockholm, as many other cities, is facing an increased electrification. More data is processed, or should I say more and more videos are uploaded, shared and streamed, which demands more data centers. Data centers already consume as much electricity as the UK and this is rapidly increasing. In addition we have the electrification of vehicles and the use of heat pumps also demand electricity. We need to consider that Sweden is phasing out nuclear power, which means that we will be more dependent on renewable energy sources. As the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow all the time, we need electricity storages more in the future than now. L&T has combined photovoltaics, smart electricity management and battery storage in commercial, residential and office buildings in GrowSmarter. Even if battery storage currently is not economically feasible it will be increasingly so in the future. Battery storage can be used in two ways. In summer you store the overproduction of solar electricity there and in winter you cut electricity effect peaks with the storage. The latter is already done now, but will be even more important in the future. The results from the private condominium Årstakrönet where L&T has managed these solutions is very promising as the amount of electricity from the grid could be reduced with more than 30% with these and electricity saving measures. Peak loads have also been shaved and the three phases are no longer running a risk of being overloaded for instance when electrical vehicles are charged.

Streetlights are also abundant in Stockholm with more than 150 000 of them all running on electrictiy. The smart street lights installed show that electricity can be reduced between 20-45% compared to traditional LED-lights. The Traffic Department of Stockholm is now working to find the best solution and open platform to upscale the solutions and are testing this in Stockholm.Lastly the increased population will mean more people and more goods on the streets of Stockholm. As we do not have the space or possibility to build new streets and roads, we need to use the existing infrastructure in a much more efficient way.

Smarter solutions for a connected city

The construction logistics center implemented by Carrier is one such solution. When the construction material needed the day after is transported to the construction site the evening before, we can move these transports from times with a lot of traffic to times with less traffic. The waste can also be collected at the site with the returning transport in the evening. The overall traffic to the construction site will also decrease with the construction logistics center and these transports can be made with vehicles using biofuels as was done by Carrier. Considering that 140 000 apartments need to be built, the amount of construction material traffic will be high the next ten years and it will be important to implement this type of solution widely in the city. Interestingly, studies show that of the heavy transports in a city almost 30% are waste transports. The Envac waste solution mentioned above not only needs less space, but also reduced waste transports in the area with 90%.

Smart Connected steeet environment is key for controlling flows in the smart City. Photo: IMB

Sensor technology, connectivity, big data combined with artificial intelligence are means by which the city better can manage traffic flows in a city. In the Slakthus-area, the city together with IBM can show traffic flows of vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists in real time. We can predict congestion, we can understand how weather or different type of events correlate with people and traffic flows in the streets. We can use this information to guide people to transport themselves to and from the area in a sustainable, yet faster, way. As the Slakthus-area will be a large construction site the coming 10 years this information is essential to understand how construction transports, goods transports, event visitor traffic and other traffic can be managed in the often narrow streets. The new subway station will for instance guide a very large flow of people into Rökerigatan, which will be a main commercial street in the area. This street will not have separate pavements or bike lanes, so all modes of traffic needs to share the same street. By predictive flow analysis, especially regarding events, it is possible to manage goods transports and deliveries, so that they do not collide with people going to events.

If this sounds at all interesting I do welcome you to follow our final conference on December 3rd, where all these solutions will be showed as part of the study visit programme. If you have not signed up for the event, you can stay updated by following GrowSmarter on Twitter.


Mika Hakosalo

Site Manager, Stockholm

For the previous blog post, click here


4 November 2019

Cologne Blog #11: Sharing the Smart Solutions

In the past five years, the GrowSmarter partners in Cologne have achieved great results in the three different areas of the project: Low Energy Districts, Integrated Infrastructures and Sustainable Urban Mobility. Now we are working hard to ensure upscaling becomes possible in Cologne and that other cities can benefit from our efforts and replicate the smart city solutions we have implemented.

To this effect, we organized several study visits and numerous events to regularly educate groups of visitors from universities and cities from within Germany, Europe and abroad. The partners of GrowSmarter got a first taste of that work, when they visited Cologne for our General Assembly over the summer.

Action Area 1: Low Energy Districts

During the General Assembly we took our partners on a tour to experience our work in Low Energy Districts for themselves. The scene was the GrowSmarter project area Mülheim (Stegerwaldsiedlung), where we have implemented a large-scale energy efficient refurbishment of 16 building blocks to lower their CO2 emissions and upgrade them for our citizens to live in. Noticeable results from this work done by our partners include an average CO2 reduction of 72% in the Stegerwaldsiedlung neighborhood.

Our partner, the German utility RheinEnergie, also installed photovoltaic cells on top of buildings in the neighbourhood, and is exploiting that energy to make the Stegerwaldsiedlung more self-sufficient. In order to achieve this, they implemented the so-called Siedlungsmanagement software which makes it possible to plan energy use in a much more efficient manner through the entire neighbourhood.


Action Area 2: Integrated infrastructures

Under the theme Integrated Infrastructures, we have focused on two different, albeit connected, approaches. On the ground in Cologne, on the so-called “Klimastraße”, which is part of the initiative ‘SmartCity Cologne’ where RheinEnergie tests innovative technologies, the company integrated three electric charging points electric vehicles in lampposts on the street. These three charging points have a yearly loading volume of 14.000 kWh and in one year of implementation they reduced the CO2 emmissions by ten tonnes compared to if the same transportation had been done in regular cars.

The second approach is related to Big Data and the work done by [ui!] - the urban institute with its open urban big data platform called ‘Urban Pulse’. The platform is able to store and process urban data in real-time in order integrate a wide range of different data and services used by Cologne (and other cities when the solution is replicated!). Data can be shared from different departments of a city administration as well as from different utilities or third parties with relevant data. The data platform gives a fast and easy overview of the current situation of the city. Different focal areas such as the environment or traffic can be considered. Three factsheets explaining the different use-cases of the Urban Pulse were recently made and you can find them online at the GrowSmarter website:

Action Area 3: Sustainable Urban Mobility

Finally, we showed our partners visiting from the rest of the GrowSmarter cities some of the implementations we have done to improve Urban mobility in Cologne as part of the project. A centrepiece of this work is the Mobility Stations. A mobility station offers multiple transport alternatives at one location. The mobility stations can vary in both size and type of location, and ten different stations were implemented in or near the neighbourhood of Mülheim. Some offer e-bike and e-car sharing, while others may offer public transportation in connection to parking and the availability of e-bikes.

In total, together with our partners, RheinEnergie, Cambio Cologne, KVB and Ampido, we have deployed 54 different e-vehicles in Cologne (cars and bikes) in the different mobility stations. As mentioned in earlier blogs, the process for signing up for an e-bike is simple. The costumer can sign up for free by using the homepage, by using the KVB or nextbike App or register on the phone by using the nextbike costumer hotline.


A Mobility Station at Stegerwaldsiedlung. Photo: KVB

Our partners from KVB and cambio have described their work with the Mobility Station in an independent blog Segment:

Mobility station, e-bikes and the new design guide - by the industrial partners KVB and cambio

Within the project of GrowSmarter, in particular for the mobility stations, all technical requirements e.g. the certifications of safety and quality of the products, have been completed. For the commission of the e-bikes a test called "Inbetriebnahmeprüfung" by the the German Technical Inspection Association was necessary. The KVB is the first company, who realized this test of an e-bike station in Germany.

Since the 8th of Februar all e-bikes are in use. Because of the many unauthorized returns of the e-bikes outside the mobililty stations, the KVB had to develop a new design for the e-bikes to ensure the customers understand the difference between an e-bike and a conventional bike. These difference refer to the pricing system and the regulations of returning and renting the e-bikes.

The Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Sieg developed a new design guide for the signature of mobility stations in Nord Rhine-Westfalia. Together with the city council of Cologne and cambio carsharing a new concept for the pedestrian signs between the light rail- and bus stations and the mobility stations had to be installed.

Furthermore there has been an enourmous sharing and discussion of information and experience especially for the members of WP4 during the general assemblies in Barcelona and Porto. In addition to the GA´s there has been a webinar concerning urban mobility which was presented by Tanya Bullmann (cambio CarSharing) and Thomas Bischof (KVB). There have also been many interviews regarding the GrowSmarter project and the development of smart mobility. These requests from students and universities have been answered from nearly all team members of WP 4.

New Design of Mobility Stations. Photo: cambio

In order to increase the use of the offered electric car-sharing, cambio started so called „E-Infoveranstaltungen“. These are best described as a meet & greet between cambio staff and customers or car-sharing interested people directly at the mobility stations during weekends. Every weekend, cambio met customers at a different station in order to explain the usage of the electric vehicles and lower the threshold for use. The meetings turned out to be very successful and each was visited by at least 15 up to 50 people. Customers were asking cambio staff questions and exchanged experiences. In the weeks after each current meeting we could see an increased use of e-vehicles at the mobility stations.

Julia Egenolf

Site Manager, Cologne

For the previous blog post, click here