The Oslo region’s achievements in sustainable urban development – from climate budgeting to energy positive buildings

Cities are the key drivers for a transition to more sustainable and resilient world and the Baltic Sea Region. Oslo, the Norwegian capital, was awarded the title of European Green Capital 2019 – a recognition of the city’s efforts and achievements in environmental, social and economic sustainability.

The Oslo region itself is one of the largest urban areas in Norway and the population of the region is increasing. The population increase creates pressure to create more workplaces, new housing possibilities and more effective transport infrastructure for the area. According to the City of Oslo’s commitment to cut down the carbon emissions by 95% by 2030, the development and growth of the region must be sustainable and climate-friendly which has made it possible for the Oslo region to showcase many innovative and sustainable green solutions for urban areas during the Urban Future Global Conference 2019.

A few examples of the good practices from the Oslo region:

  • The Climate Budget

Oslo’s city government has adapted its administrative tasks and strategies around the common goal of cutting the carbon emissions down by 95% by 2030. This is achieved by integrating the climate goals into Oslo’s municipal budget – making the allocation of resources for creating zero emission or carbon neutral solutions for the community easier and more transparent. The Climate Budget contains certain necessary measures and states what must be done and by whom – all city departments are involved in the process and encouraged to propose measures to be included in the budget. Thus, the climate work in Oslo is not a responsibility of one single department – the environmental department – but the responsibility of every department in the city administration with clear allocation of roles and tasks among them.

  • Mobility (electricity, biofuel and hydrogen replacing fossil fuels)

The mobility sphere in Oslo is electrifying in a fast pace – most of the vehicle fleet is beginning to consist of electric vehicles. According to the Vice Mayor of Finance in City of Oslo, Robert Steen, around 59% of the new cars sold in Oslo were electric vehicles in 2018.The electric vehicles also enjoy several benefits in the transportation infrastructure, such as more parking spaces as well as the possibility to drive on the bus lane during the rush hours. But besides the e-vehicles, also biofuel and hydrogen are rising as the new fuel alternatives to fossil fuels. For example, Oslo’s public transport provider Ruter, currently has 11 zero emissions buses in their fleet: six electric buses and five hydrogen buses. The aim is to increase the number of the buses using hydrogen in the coming years rapidly. Hydrogen would also be used for fueling boats and ferries operating in the Oslo region. Besides the public transportation, hydrogen fueled vehicles are becoming more available also for the private consumers with more than 12 hydrogen filling stations opened in Norway and many other being under planning.

  • FutureBuilt iniutiative and energy positive buildings

In 2009, FutureBuilt (a collaboration between 10 partners including the municipal authorities of Oslo, Bærum, Asker and Drammen, the Ministry of Local Government and Modernization, the Norwegian State Housing Bank, Enova, the National Agency for Building Regulations, the Norwegian Green Building Council and the National Association of Norwegian Architects) was established to support the Oslo region in its aim to achieve climate neutrality by 2030 with the aim of completing at least 50 pilot projects by 2020. According the FutureBuilt, the pilot projects aimed to cut the greenhouse gas emissions from transport, energy and material consumption by a minimum of 50% and to inspire and change practices both in the public and private sectors. One of these pilot projects was the refurbishment of the 1980’s office buildings into powerhouse Kjørbo. The powerhouse produces more energy than it uses – Kjørbo became the first energy positive building in Norway when it opened in 2014. After the renovation, the building’s energy demands were reduced by approximately 85%. Energy is produced by a 312kWp solar power plant that produces annually approximately 225 000 kWh renewable electricity. Surplus of electricity during the summer period also charges the electric vehicles in the area and supplies the local hydrogen filling station.

Overall, there are many good practices when thinking about Oslo and its region – these were just a few examples to inspire our cities in the Baltic Sea Region.

 

Written by: Kristiina Paju