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GrowSmarter Project - Lisa Enarsson - City of Stockholm

A detailed look at the award-winning GrowSmarter project. A flagship Smart Cities demonstrator project in Stockholm.

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Stockholm won the 2019 Smart City Award for its role on the GrowSmarter project. Before receiving this award, whilst I was in Stockholm, I interviewed Lisa Enarsson.

Lisa is a Project Manager who has been working on the GrowSmarter project since it started, over five years ago.

The project tested 12 smart solutions which are discussed in the interview, and was funded my the European Commission's Horizon 2020 funding call.

In this episode, we’ll be answering some big questions, like:

  • How can existing buildings be retrofit to be ‘smarter’ and much more energy efficient?
  • What are some of the outcomes of this flagship smart cities research project in Stockholm?
  • What are the next steps in scaling the lessons learnt from this project to new cities around the world to maximise the impact?

Full Transcript

Today, I'm here in the offices of Stockholm stocked, joined by Lisa Enarsson, who is project leader.

Yeah. I'm project manager of the GrowSmarter project so I'm part of the coordination team.

Great. Well, thanks very much for your time today and thanks for telling us a bit more about GrowSmarter. So, yeah. Let's dive into it.

Yeah. So we have a PowerPoint here we're showing where in the project, it's a Stockholm, Cologne, and Barcelona that are working together with industry, where we want to find smart solutions to solve a lot of problems that we see in cities. And we have got funding from the Horizon 2020 funding call for smart cities and communities. And we actually see that the three cities, we have very much common challenges. We have housing; we have the waste problems; we have transportation. And those kind of questions, we need new solutions to solve.

And here are some of the goals of the city of Stockholm. We want to be a city for all. We also want to be a fossil fuel free city by 2040. And we want to be the smartest city in the world by 2040. So that's kind of challenging. And if we look at the fossil fuel free city, we... Our politicians has decided that we should be fossil fuel free until 2040 and we have actually will be working quite good with it since 1990 when we had our first greenhouse gas program. So you can see we're going down. But now, we have been picking on the low hanging fruits, and now it's really a challenge to get down to the... So that's when we see that we need new smart solutions.

So in the GrowSmarter project, we have we have 12 smart solutions to contribute to this to solving these challenges. In three different themes, it's the low energy districts; it's integrated infrastructure; and sustainable urban mobility. And we want to save resources and increase the economic growth. We want to improve quality of life. And actually, the goal is to create 1500 jobs at the same time. And we want to reduce energy usage by 60% and cut the greenhouse gases by 60%. And actually, now the project is finalized by December this year. So we have implemented all these smart solutions and have some results.

That's... Just before we move on, I noticed that the finish date was this year.

So you've been working on this for a number of years?


That was what, for me, was very exciting because you got results. A lot of people are talking about doing projects like this.

Yeah. We have been working since 2015 and now we're finalizing it by December.

Great. And is the output... What's the output going to be?

But the outcome, actually, it's both. Of course, we'll have a lot of reports with the conclusions that we have from the project. But then we also have the parts that we have demonstrated. So here you can see a picture of one of the houses in ballatore, which we have renovated. And these buildings are from the sixties and were not so energy efficient when we started. And we have actually shown here that it's possible to renovate them and lower their energy use by 70 up to 80%. So this is really, really ambitious. And the level is down to the same level as new built houses with ambitions in our new area. I don't know if you've been there in the Royal Seaport.

No, I haven't visited that yet but maybe I'll have a look.

I think you should, 'cause that's a new built area in Stockholm where we have had really high ambitions and demands on those who are building there. But actually these houses are coming down to the same level, and that's in breeden as we need heat and so on. But the demand we have there is 55 kilowatt hours per square meter and year. And here we're coming down to 58 kilowatt hours per square meter.

Again, this point here was another amazing thing that I thought drew me into wanting to learn more because a lot of the buildings that we have in our cities are existing buildings so we need to be renovating these existing buildings.

That's actually why we have been working with this project and also the project I worked with before, the sustainably**.** But we think, well, it's really, really important that we're working with new buildings. But if we want to reach the Paris agreement, we need to work with existing buildings because that's where we have a whole lot of buildings, and that's where we can get some results. And the others is more like a drop in the sea.

Yeah. In the UK, we talk about it being the 99% so every year we might bill 1% of new buildings, but you've actually got 99% of your portfolio or your building stock that needs to be addressed and that's the much bigger... Okay, great.

Yeah, and I think another challenge is to work with also areas where you're not doing anything, neither working with new buildings or doing a big renovation. We need to work with these areas as well, like here. Now we're doing the renovation in the building. Besides, in the inner city, there's lots of things we could do as well. So here you see some more pictures from the property in ballatoio. We don't need to go into so much there, but what we have been doing when we're renovated here is both working with the system and having a smart ventilation and also a hot water system.

So we're making all heat stay in the building and the only, the exhaust air is only two degrees. So we keep the heat in the building so we don't need to get so much new heat. We need to be efficient here. But also in the waste water, we have a waste water heat exchanger so the water that comes in, the cold water gets preheated by the exchanger. So it's not so much more heat needed to get it up in the 55 degrees, which it needs to be. And also, I don't have a picture of that.

And then also, of course, the climate shell. You saw the other one. There, we actually have a special part which is Skanska. Skanska has been the developer who has done these buildings, but the buildings are owned by the municipal housing company. And they have... Skanska have installed windows with a U-value of 0.7 and they are four-glazed windows. And normally, when you build an ambitious new built house, you go for maybe a U-value of 0.9. And here it's even down to 0.7. So that's really something that has been tested here. And it has worked well, but maybe a little bit too good because the window is so efficient, so it doesn't let any heat go out. So when it has been cold outside, more than minus five, then it has actually been frozen on the outside. You know as on cars when it's cold. Then you get frozen because there's no heat. Take it away, and this is what happens.

So it insulates so well that none of the heat from the inside of the building actually can melt the ice.

Exactly. So that's... It's not all the time, but it's in some weather conditions. So I think Stockholm's helm are now thinking that maybe, and also Skanska that maybe 0.7 was a little bit to go too far, because you need to be able to see outside as well even if it's a winter day.

Yeah. Interesting.
And have you got a list of the retrofit activities that you've done in each apartment? Like the windows, the heat exchange, the insulation, I guess?

Yeah. Insulation, the lights, the elevators. So we have done all parts, so that's innovative. Except the windows are really innovative. And the smart insulation system is also innovative. But otherwise, it's more just doing the whole thing doing everything. And the photovoltaics on the roof. And one of the buildings also have you geothermals. That's the one who really goes down to that level off the new built in the Royal Seaport.

Okay. And in terms of the cost of these elements, is there a cost benefit analysis that's been done for how long it will take to recover the costs of this retrofit?

We have IESE, a business school in Spain who has the analyzes the world different smart solutions. In this case, when we have been talking also with the Stockholm helm, they say that to do this renovation, for them as a company, it's cost a little bit too much. But I think that this is something that, and that's also something that we're going to bring up to the commission, that we need to do this kind of reservations to reach the Paris agreement. So from a company point of view, if you can't see the business model in it, then maybe this is something that we need subsidies to do to get the whole thing working. Also in Sweden, the electricity is not very expensive, so it takes very many years to get a good business model.

Yeah, yeah. You're right. It's not about the cost, it's about the saving of energy ultimately. Someone will need to pay for it. It's just a matter of who.

Yeah. And it's more the society who benefits from it, then a small company or housing company. It's not their core business to save the world. Yeah, What we see is also that it's not enough to do all these different technical parts. We also need the tenants to be climate smart to they have also got different tools to work with. And we have also had different events for the tenants to get them onboard, positive to contribute.

So here we have a device in the apartment where the tenants can choose, for instance, to dim some of the lights in the apartment so they don't use 100% of the energy. And also, there is a button that they can press when they're going from home and then they use less energy, of course.

And do they get feedback on how much energy they're using?

Yeah. That's also in the system that they can get. And they can also be compared to the other tenants. Not that, you know, just my neighbor, but in average to see.

That's really good. Yeah.

And they have also a inlet for the waste. And this inlet has different colored bags for different fractions. So instead of having different bins for different fractions, you only have one inlet. The green one is for compost material, and then there are the color for paper, and plastic, and so on. And then it goes down in the pipe, and it goes with the vacuum pipe. It's strong to container in the end of this area and in that way, you don't need to have a lot of heavy vehicles coming into this area. It just goes to where the container is and that container goes to optic care sorting station where it's put in different... in the fractions that they belong and the different materials can be used.

Really good. Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. You don't have smelly bins outside your house.

You don't have smelly beans. You don't take so much space. You don't get a lot of noise from the heavy vehicles, and you don't get a lot of air pollution from the heavy vehicles in the area. And you get a better security in the area. I mean, with the heavy vehicle and children, it can be really dangerous.

I'm just wondering, is it easy to maintain? Have you ever got the bag stuck in the pipe or...?

There has been some problems in the beginning. wefesrgersg, the company who was working with that, have been there and fixing the bugs which were there from the beginning. Because here, they can measure the weights also. So you have to open it. When you open it, you open it with your tag and you show that what color you have in the camera here. That shows what kind of fraction it is and then you can also get feedback. So you know that you're very good at doing... Having the compost and very little off the the burnt fraction.

And that can also be compared not by individuals but by house. So there could also be a competition between the houses on who's best on sorting their garbage. And then the tenants also have a electric car sharing possibility just beside their houses in parking downside downstairs.

I'm interested in, were the tenants the same tenants that had always lived in this block and did they have any say whether they want to participate in this or do they all agree to...?

Actually, as this was a EU project, we had an application and we got the money and there hadn't been process the tenants before. So in the beginning, they were quite annoyed because they got this information about that because this also needed to be done quickly because it was a project, EU project and we only had five years. And in three years, all the renovation was supposed to be done.

So there was some protests in the beginning. So I think it had been a much better process if we had had more time to discuss with tenants. And now when they have moved back... They had to move out to do the renovation as their renovation is done. But the renovation needed to be done anyhow, so the energy part of this, it is more like an adult because you need new pipes and everything because it's an old building. So it actually went to court but the court decided that, well, this building needs to be renovated. So we could go on with plans.

But Stockholm helm has also been very... They had lots of meetings with the tenants to discuss the rent because the rent goes up but that's not due to the energy part. But that's more because you get a much more comfortable apartment. So that it's the renovation of the apartment more that... Because in Sweden, there are laws saying what different parts can allow the house owner to raise the rent.

But about the car sharing, the tenants here are, like, 65 years or older, most of them. So we didn't think so many of them would be interested in the car sharing, but actually it has been very popular. And the Stockholm helm is paying for the membership during the project so maybe that's why it has been popular. We'll see now when the project finishes when they have to pay their own membership. But I think when they have got used to it, I think they will continue.

And we also have cargo bikes for the tenants. We have a delivery room in the basement of of the building where, when you order something on the Internet, then you write, "care of move my bike," and the package goes to them. And they take the bike to go to the delivery room. And when you get a package, you get a digital key. So you need an app to open the door and you can only open the door if you have got a package there.

How did the more elderly residents... Are they working with this technology or...?

That's a challenge here as well. So Stockholm helm thinks that this solution is really a good solution and they want to continue to work with it. But it hasn't been used as much as we... I mean, as many are over 65 and they don't order so much from the Internet. So it would probably work better in another neighborhood.

Yeah, that's an interesting lesson there.

Yeah. That they want to continue to work with this after the project as well to try to develop this solution. And there's an interest also from post company in Sweden. They're really interested in it, because now the packages goes to, like, the supermarket and you get your package there. But there's so many people ordering from the Internet that there's no space anymore. So they have difficulties in finding places that can....

Yeah, I think it's a great. Yeah, it's much more efficient.

Yeah. And then you don't need to take your car to go and get the package. Yeah, so I think as you're most interested in the buildings, maybe these... These pictures after, it's more of other solutions, like we've been working with smart lighting. And this is also a renovation done in the project in industrial building which had cultural heritage for servants. So this was difficult. We were not allowed to do any changes of the looks of the building, but the renovation has been to do a window in the inside, so it keeps the heat inside. And here in this roof, there is photovoltaics but they are...

See through?

Yeah, you can see through them. Transparent. That's the word I was looking for. And so they produce energy but they let the light inside the building. And we have also been working with an energy company here in Stockholm who has worked with a waste heat solution where they take waste heat from data centers and put into the district heating system. So instead of just going up in there, we can heat apartments with this heat. Also very smart solution that they have been already continuing to work with them. Have more data centers connected. This is the big data part where we worked on with sensors in an area. This is a building logistic center where we have worked on to be more efficient on the logistics when you're doing buildings.

Now, the renovation that we did was not using this logistic center because they were buying things from a closer shop. This solution has been developed anyhow, but have delivered to another building site. I think one of the reasons is when it's a refurbishment, you don't need as much material so they have been working with a new bill tights instead. And signal priority we've been working with and charging stations. And here's picture of all our partners in the project. And you can see they're quite many, which has been quite challenging as we are the coordinators of the whole product. We've been busy but on the other hand, with this much competent partners, we have been able to do very many things in the three cities.

Yeah. So I want to talk a little bit about the relationship with other cities. You've mentioned the product here in Stockholm.

Are they doing similar projects in their cities and you're, like, sharing the lessons? Is that how it's working?

Yeah, we have 12 smart solutions. In Stockholm, we're doing all 12. In Barcelona, they're not doing really all 12 but many of them. And in Cologne, they are doing a little bit less than Barcelona. But all three are doing things in the themes of these 12 solutions. So and all three are renovating buildings.

In Cologne, it's only residential buildings, but very many in an area where there are many immigrants living. So they have had more challenges in this information part and communication with them. In Barcelona, they have been working with very many different kind of buildings both residential buildings, but also sports center, an industrial building which was changed into more conference center, a hotel, and an architect school. So they've had very many different kind of buildings.

Interesting. And before we started today, you mentioned that yesterday you were at the conference. There was an internal conference sharing this knowledge from what you've learned with the city of Stockholm.

Can you describe a bit more about how yesterday went, what you talked about, and the reception? How it was received from your colleagues?

Yeah. Well, first of all, I can say that in the project, in this kind of EU project, it's very thoroughly planned how you're going to replicate it in the other cities and so on. And so we have our replication partners -- five cities that are following our project and doing things in their project, and we have also started collaborating with 16 other lighthouse projects. So we have quite a lot of discussions and change experience changing with them. But here within the city, we haven't had such a good plan. So that's why we decided what we need to do something here in Stockholm because now we have lots of experiences.

And one problem is, when you do a lot of projects that you have a lot of smart solutions, but the problem is to get it from pilots to make it core business in the city. So that's why we wanted to have this seminary seminar series. Well, so have breakfast and then we present the project. And we've had the first one, which is more overall that we think it's a good idea to work with pilots that would work with EU projects. That's something that our politicians also wants us to do so we should be better on participating in this kind of project.

And then we had one meeting about mobility. So then we have invited our partners to come and present. So we have one hour of presentations going a little bit more in deep in these smart solutions. And then we have a workshop after that. So then those who are more interested can stay and discuss more about the solutions. So actually, in the first one, we had Julia from Cologne here because there, we think they have done a really good job with your mobility stations. And that's something that we think should be done here in Stockholm as well. Yesterday, we were discussing integrated infrastructure, that part of the product where we, for instance, have the NVAC system for the waste is part of that. But also, more digitalized solutions and so on and with big data part. And I think they have been very interested in it. They were asking questions. And so on after the presentations.

And next time, we have about the energy part of the buildings. So I hope there will be a lot of interest to discuss, in deep them. And the plan for these meetings are to... When we're discussing, that we should try to find out what is next step. How do we do to make this happen?

That was going to be my next question. How do you go from these pilot projects to at scale lots and lots of these buildings? I guess part of it is financial, part of it is human -- the human element of it.

Yeah, I think so. And I think it's also a matter of routines. So, actually, we have another application now for a project we call, "Sustainability becomes Mainstream." Mainstreaming Sustainability, I think we'd call it in English, where we want to look at how should we do that? What kind of routines do we need in Stockholm to pick up the good things that make it happen in the rest of the city? And what kind of... Do we need political decisions? Do we need parts of it to go into different steering papers that we have? Is there a need of financial support or is it only a matter of knowledge?

So we have to find the solutions for the different parts. It can't be dependent on one person who is engaged. It should be more...

Widespread. Joint responsibility.

Yeah, and there should be a method for getting there. It shouldn't be that somebody thinks this is a good idea.

Yeah. Interesting. And at least you've got the other cities. Hopefully these issues, maybe, are international as well so they can travel and you can learn from how other countries or cities are scaling their pilot project.

Yeah, but I think that's actually something that we all see like a challenge in the cities. It's easier to start a pilot than to make it up in the whole city. But in some cases, a pilot can be the driver for making it happen and that's happened also here in Stockholm. So that's what we need to look at. What made those parts? For instance, we have in the Royal Seaport, we have a decision that these buildings shouldn't be more than 55 kilowatt hours per square meter a year. That's where we started that demand and then we don't know really how, but suddenly it went up to the City Council, and the politicians decided that this is something that we should demand for all buildings that are built in the land that we use, that we own in the City of Stockholm.

That's a challenging target.

Yeah. So there, there was a political decision that was needed. And now, that's how it is here in Stockholm. So that's good.

And is there a deadline for getting all of the Stockholm owned buildings to below 55?

No, it's not the Stockholm-owned buildings. It's if you're going to build on the Stockholm-owned land, you have to reach the level of 55.

Okay, so it's not just public, it's private as well?


Very interesting. And that's from today?

From years ago, like, I don't remember now. Maybe 10 years ago -- 5 or 10 years ago. I don't remember. I said I would say something about the sustainable project compared to this GrowSmarter project. And I would say that in the sustainable project**,** that municipal housing company, they developed a method of how to involve the tenants. So that was something that was not done in the same way in GrowSmarter. But in in the sustainable, they... Before they started a renovation, they asked all the tenants to come to a meeting, and everybody could say what they think is good and what needs to be done with the building. And then they choose a smaller group of the tenants to work together with the architect and the housing company and form a proposal on what the renovation should be. And then also including the rent. Do we want to be in the base level, or do we want a little bit higher quality in the renovation and the material chosen and so on? And can have a little bit higher rent? And then they went back to all the tenants, invited all of them, and they could vote if they thought the proposal was good enough or not. And if it was not, they had to go back and redo it and come back. So there was a really good democracy process in the renovation. And I think that's one of the good results from a pilot project that has continued within that municipal company, but it hasn't been spread to the others. So I think this is something to be spread.

Yeah, definitely very important to have the residents in these buildings engaged with you for a long time. Okay. Very interesting. Yeah, thanks for that. That was great.