The test bed in Solberga is a form of research and demonstration facility where small companies, researchers and various organizations cooperate with the residents to find solutions together for the housing sector’s environmental challenges.
Housing accounts for roughly 40% of energy use in Sweden, making apartment and facility renovation and innovation an essential prerequisite for reaching SDGs 6 and 11. Moreover, many urban areas in Sweden are facing increasing risks of flooding from heavier rainfalls due to climate change.
The current standard procedure when launching a testbed is to address particular residences and almost never local communities as a whole. This was partly the reason why the Solberga Testbed, labeled by its organisers as “The most living testbed in Sweden”, was launched in February 2018 by IVL and Stockholmshem, funded by ERUF platform Grön Bostad.
The main objective of the testbed is to promote better management of stormwater, surface water and waste. Companies and researchers are invited to join the testbed for experimenting with new solutions and behavioural change for reducing energy use in various contexts while contributing to a viable area and its social value.
Stockholmshem have clear financial goals in attracting business and residents to Solberga, where they own a considerable amount of apartments. The residents are included insofar as they are able on a voluntary basis, endangering a broad long-term citizen commitment. Grön Bostad wish to improve the environmental management conditions in Solberga while attracting private and public actors as well as citizens to keep the process going, hopefully by far outliving the project itself. On top of that, the structural fund has to approve of the results reported.
Good practices & solutions
Using a smaller community for trial-and-error activities with the possibility to fail repeatedly is considered crucial for a successful testbed. Therefore, creating good relations with the residents is key, thereby creating acceptance for a quantity of ideas to be tried out in their daily life. Companies wanting to be a part of the trials is also a welcomed feature.
Residents are invited to participate in test projects such as urban gardening and surface water management through workshops and casual activities. Stockholmshem is known to house many environmentally committed tenants, further facilitating the ongoing work of the testbed.
Outcome & opportunities
Of the solutions tested, notable examples are surface water being diverted into urban gardening use and reducing smell in local waste management in order to facilitate placing waste collecting stations close to residents. Surface water, putting significant pressure on water treatment systems, will be led through specially designed drain pipes instead of down the general municipal draining system. Preserved in local facilities, it will be utilized in hydroponics (water-only gardening) managed by urban gardening company Kretsloppsbolaget. The smell-reducing technology is provided by waste management company Bioteria. In a longer perspective, the organisers hope to contribute to an enhanced circular economy in the area. The project is open for new cleantech companies as long as they want to be included, with Stockholmshem also harboring hopes of appealing to the social aspect as well as the ecological, for example involving the residents in urban gardening, thereby improving social trust and community in the area.
Lessons learned & recommendations
Involving citizens can be difficult, as they do not possess the same time schedules and possibilities as other involved actors; it is particularly necessary to foster good relations with them, as well as with housing owners. Being allowed to fail with experiments occurring in their own environment requires a high level of trust and understanding. Collaborative projects cannot be written, they need to be equally conducted and tried in practice as they need to be prepared and planned. This may be obvious to many, but in academia it is hardly commonplace.
Engaged partners & stakeholder groups
Grön Bostad, Stockholmshem, local residents, cleantech SMEs, IVL.
Project: Stockholm Co-creation