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Sustainable city showcase: Malmö, Sweden

The city of Malmö has undergone a massive transformation over the past thirty years. Once a major industrial center, it has become one of the most environmentally friendly cities in Europe. The city’s Västra Hamnen district uses one hundred percent renewable energy, relying only  on solar, wind power, and geothermal heat pumps. It is climate neutral, meaning it produces absolutely no carbon emissions. The area has extensive bike trails, and a public bus system that runs entirely on “biogas”, a methane based alternative to gasoline.

The city’s architecture had a major shift in the 1990’s, when architect Klas Tham was hired to design the Malmö’s Bo01 district. Taking inspiration from medieval architecture, he made the buildings on the outside perimeter of the district taller than those on the inside, making the area feel safe and enclosed. He placed all the buildings close together, as well, in order to encourage walking or biking through the use of thin, short roadways.

The Bo01 district also had a revamp in terms of soil composition. Previously a site for industrial waste, city planners treated the area’s polluted soil and placed five inches of fresh clean soil over top. The area is now home to many open green spaces and city parks.

The tallest building in Malmö, and all of Sweden,  is “Turning Torso”. This residential highrise stands 625 ft tall, and is home to 147 apartments. Each apartment is fitted with a special garbage disposal that allows organic food matter to be converted into biogas. In addition, residents can monitor their water and energy use using a display installed in the wall of their home. Designers hope that this display will make residents more aware of the amount of resources they use on a daily basis.

Although Malmö is already one of Sweden’s most sustainable cities, it has big goals. The entire city hopes to become climate neutral by 2020. Ideally, all of Malmö will use only renewable energy by 2030.

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