Karlstad Tuggelite eco-village

Posted on March, 01 2012

Tuggelite – an innovative urban eco-village 

Tuggelite – an innovative urban eco-village

Urban eco-villages can be places of innovation, testing, demonstration, and dispersion of important developments for sustainable urban living. This is shown by Sweden’s first eco-village Tuggelite in Karlstad that was an early promoter and innovator of key sustainability techniques. These include resource-efficient building, energy wood-pellets, compost toilets, passive solar heating, recycling, composting, promoting local organic food, triple-layer windows, and biogas for buses.

Keywords: eco-village, resource efficiency, innovation, demonstration, dissemination

Eco-villages are laboratories and incubators that enable grassroots energies and initiatives for more rapid transitions to sustainable cities. They promote learning for sustainable development and active eco-citizenship. Greater social and economic sustainability through empowerment, participation, and better resource use are also important achievements.

Sweden’s first eco-village was established in the early 1980s. The work began in the 1970s led by a group from Gothenberg, including many research-academics who were interested in energy use, resource-efficient building, social positives, and alternatives to “throwaway” consumer cultures. Tuggelite was established with the support of Karlstad municipality, which was positive to the introduction of compost toilets and energy wood-pellets. Passive solar heating, composting, recycling, and supporting local organic food were among its other forerunner initiatives.

Source of innovation
Tuggelite is viewed as a source of innovation both regionally and nationally. According to at least one report, Tuggelite was first with wood pellets and 3-layer windows in Sweden. It was also an early champion of using biogas from organic wastes for operating city buses - now a common practice in Sweden. At the municipal level, Tuggelite lobbied for government to accept sorted waste, e.g. paper, plastic, glass, metal, organic waste.

The pioneering role that Tuggelite has played is attributed to being located near a city, enabling dialogue, interchange, and useful innovations to be demonstrated and dispersed. An eco-village in or near a city can be a laboratory of new innovation and an incubator of innovations to give proof-of-concept for cities. Today cities around the world are enabling eco-villages, e.g. Los Angeles, Ithaca, and Adelaide (see Christie Walk). A recent report concludes that three core factors enabling Tuggelite-founders to reshape their everyday lives around the norm of environmental responsibility were willingness/interest, capacity, and knowledge.

Cooperation with city
The Tuggelite case is a good example of cooperation between an eco-village and a municipality, because regulations and permits are a key challenge. Eco-village innovations often include off-grid energy, water and sewage. Instead of focusing on the existing regulations, a city can focus on the range of positive outcomes an eco-village achieves directly. These can include reduced climate emissions, and reduced use of water and energy. Indirect benefits include innovativeness, and promoting more sustainable urban development. Creating social cohesion in a city environment is another important benefit. An innovative idea stemming from eco-villages is for municipalities to base their approvals and permits, e.g. for building, on ecological footprints (see also Sutton).

Peter Newman, Timothy Beatley, Heather Boyer, 2009, Resilient cities: responding to peak oil and climate change, Washington DC: Island Press

Peter Newman, Isabella Jennings, 2008, Cities as Sustainable Ecosystems : Principles and Practices, Washington, DC: Island Press

Ecovillage News, 2010, “Ecovillages in Scandinavia, Part 1”, July / August, http://www.ecovillagenews.org/wiki/index.php/Ecovillages_in_Scandinavia,_Part_I

Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 2008, Hållbara hushåll: Miljöpolitik och ekologisk hållbarhet i vardagen -- Slutrapport till Naturvårdsverket från forskningsprogrammet SHARP, Patrik Söderholm (ed.), Report 5899, December 2008

Statistiska centralbyrån, Befolkningsstatistik, http://www.scb.se/Pages/Product____25785.aspx

Text by: Aaron Thomas

The Tuggelite outside of Karlstad area was created as an environmentally friendly and resource efficient accommodation with a strong social cohesion.
© Helena Westholm, Efem arkitektkontor
Map Karlstad
Tuggelite outside of Karlstad
© Helena Westholm, Efem arkitektkontor