Centre for a Sustainable Built Environment

The Centre for a Sustainable Built Environment is a recently founded center at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. The Centre addresses sustainability challenges connected to urban environments, from local to global. Interdisciplinary studies are supported through the center, catalyzing the broad and innovative knowledge base at the KTH School of Architecture and the Built Environment.

Top quality research and an established network of national and international partners will help the Centre for Sustainable Built Environment acquire a leading position in Sweden and play a vital role in the development of the Stockholm region.


The Centre communicates current and emerging sustainable built environment research at KTH through its blog that can be accessed HERE.

Sustainable Built Environment PULSE

Beyond the Radical Renovation of Post-War Housing  

The KTH Centre for a Sustainable Built Environment has recently supported KTH researchers from across the Architecture and Built Environment School (ABE) at  KTH win significant FORMAS funding to explore the impact of incremental approaches to the renovation of post-war housing.

It is often assumed that the mass of social housing built after the Second World War in Sweden - and around the world today - requires a radical approach to its renovation. Most of this housing stock is now 40-50 years old and does not conform to well contemporary energy or living standards. As so much housing was built during this period, famously in Sweden a million homes were built, it is assumed that a large-scale approach to renovation is required in which entire blocks, indeed neighborhoods, are renovated at one time.

Researchers at KTH have begun to question this rennovation model. Radical approaches, whilst apparently cost efficient and speedy, have significant effects on society as well as on the environmental targets they aim to achieve. Research estimates that as much as 12% of the CO2 reduction made through radical renovations is re-admitted through the bulk use of iron, steel cement and glass this type of approach requires. It is becoming ever more apparent that re-housing residents from an entire housing block ruptures the social fabric of the neighbourhood, with high rents post-renovation meaning many never return and that communities are lost.

A consortium of KTH researchers, led by Professor Folke Björk at the Department of Civil and Architectural Engineering has set out to evaluate the cost and benefits of following a more incremental approach to the renovation of mass housing. An incremental approach proposes two different routes to renovation. First, apartments within housing blocks can be renovated step-wise as they become vacant. Second, the different technical systems within a housing block - water, electricity, windows, ventilation, insulation etc. - are renovated one by one.

Professor Björk and his colleagues, including Professor Hans Lind, Dr Tord af Klintberg, Dr Lovisa Högberg and Dr Amy Rader Olsson, were recently awarded funding from Formas for a three year project called Sustainable Incremental Renovation. “This project” Professor Björk comments, “will give us the opportunity to investigate possibilities for making the renovation of apartment buildings in an incremental way. Our hypothesis is that this can give a sustainable development in all the respect of environment, economy, society and also technology.”

The goal of this work is to provide the building sector, public authorities, housing owners and tenants with an informed set of choices about the style in which renovations are to be undertaken. Vitally, the project will investigate not only the technical and environmental aspects of different renovation styles but the architectural, social, economic and legal perspectives too so that an holistic and long-term view can be taken.

For further information about this project contact Professor Folke Björk.

Further information about the Sustainable Homes research theme, of which this work is part, can be accessed on the Centre for a Sustainable Built Environment website here and blog here.

Stockholm, Nov 2015


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