The One Tonne Life project has ended and the content on this web page is static and is not updated any more. The project was unique and pioneering, making the conclusions and all information connected to the project just as interesting and up-to-date today as when it was run. Read more about the project and get inspired! (March 2017)

One Tonne Life

Author: Redaktionen

Eco-labelling for cars: is there such a thing?

Can a car have an eco-label? How do I wash my car in an environmentally responsible way? Are there any environmentally certified tyres?

These are examples of questions that we receive every day. The fact is that eco-labels make things a little simpler when the time comes for customers to do their shopping. For example, Sweden’s “Svanen” is an eco-label that can be found on many products – everything from fuel (the gas used to propel vehicles) and newsprint to tyres, car washes and so on. You can find out more from There you can read, for instance, that eco-labelled car washes actually exist. This means they meet tough demands concerning water consumption and that the chemicals used have the least possible negative impact on the environment. What is more, these demands also include a quality requirement. It is a poor choice from the environmental viewpoint if you have to wash your car twice, so by choosing an eco-labelled car wash you get both a cleaner car and a cleaner conscience.

When it comes to tyres, HA oils are forbidden in all tyres as of about a year ago. What is more, there is an eco-label for tyres too. Thus far only one tyre model has received this eco-label but more are on the way. For tyres it is important to bear in mind that tread depth must be sufficient, and for a tyre to function safely Volvo recommends a minimum of 3 mm. There are also many tyre models with low rolling resistance; this helps cut fuel consumption without lengthening the stopping distance. Remember also to frequently check tyre pressures. Incorrect tyre inflation has more of an impact on fuel consumption than you might believe. What is more, there is an eco-pressure level which is somewhat higher than the standard tyre inflation and which helps cut fuel consumption still further.

Finally, is there an eco-label for the car as a whole? The answer is both yes and no. There is no eco-label for the entire car, but several of Volvo’s models have interiors that have been certified and approved by the Swedish Asthma and Allergy Association. It is not an eco-label in the traditional sense of the term, but it is an excellent guideline for good in-car air quality. This requires much more than just a good air filter in the ventilation system – a whole range of things have been done to these cars to achieve this high interior standard, including:

• IAQS – (Interior Air Quality System) fitted as standard on all new Volvo models since 2003. This system automatically shuts off incoming air and activates the recirculation system when it registers high levels of carbon monoxide, ozone and nitrogen oxide in the incoming air. The air inside the car is thus actually cleaner than the air outside.
• The passenger compartment filter prevents particles and pollen from entering the car.
• Interior materials are tested for contact allergies. These materials meet the same strict requirements as for jewellery with regard to nickel seepage, among other things.
• Plastics are chosen that release as little vapour as possible.
• The cabin fan starts automatically when the car is unlocked so as to ventilate as much of the shut-in air as possible when the outside temperature is 10 degrees or more.
• Finally, all materials and designs are chosen to ensure that the car is as easy to clean as possible. This helps minimise the amount of dust inside the passenger compartment.

Volvo is the only car manufacturer to have this environmental declaration system, and it is used on all the company’s more recent models.

In addition, there is of course the state-legislated definition of environmentally optimised or “green” cars but this is not an eco-label as such but rather a regulation that exempts such cars from road tax for five years. Anyone wanting to find out more about this can visit the Swedish Tax Authority’s website and look at the link about “green” cars

David Weiner, Volvo

Webisode #9 “The Robinson Phase”

From forest to finished house – part 3: the house factory

In 1960 Derome supplemented its sawmill business with building material sales. Today the company supplies construction materials and prefabricated building components as well as complete houses under the A-hus and Varbergshus brands. The A-hus brand covers prefabricated houses that can be picked straight from the catalogue, with the focus on design. In addition to sales in Sweden, these houses are also exported to the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Denmark.

The factory in which they are built is located at the very same site where the company was founded. Production is highly rationalised. A CAD system generates core data files with information for the production line, which uses the drawings to produce the houses. Every year, A-hus builds and sells 350 houses, that is to say about one a day. The Lindell family went to have a look at the house factory.

The family examine the production line together with Petra Cederhed of A-hus (on the right)…

…and Peter Mossbrant, President of A-hus (on the left).

Christian Axelsson of A-hus in discussion with Alicja about the plastic sheeting that serves as the “climate shell” of the One Tonne Life house.

Cross-section of a One Tonne Life wall, with the plastic sheeting inserted in two layers.

Hannah inspects the growth rings in the timber used for the facade.

The house walls are insulated.

Jonathan got to apply insulation strips to a window. He managed it well …

…as did Nils.

When the time came to try the nail gun, Jonathan focused on looking as cool as possible …

…while Hannah went all-out for enthusiasm …

…but wasn’t quite ready for the recoil!

Hannah shows the nails used in the nail gun.

Hannah watches as a window receives its final insulation treatment. This is the last step before …

…the module is ready.

Chalmers offers tips to the family

The “Robinson” phase of One Tonne Life means that the family is making a huge effort to get close to the target of one tonne of carbon dioxide per person per year. Fredrik Hedenus and Anna Björk from the Chalmers University of Technology, who have been calculating the family’s carbon dioxide footprint from the very outset, put their heads together and wrote an open letter to the family and included a number of tips and suggestions – and we know that the family have already adopted several of the two experts’ suggestions:

“Hi Alicja, Nils, Hannah and Jonathan!

Today, eating out accounts for a relatively large proportion of emissions in the “food” category. If everyone in the family chooses vegetarian meals at work and at school, emissions from this category can be reduced to 0.3 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per person and year. Previous weeks with mixed dishes for lunch have put greenhouse gas emissions between 0.6 and 0.8 tonnes CO2 equivalent per person and year. Taking a lunch box from home is one way of further cutting emissions; just how much you reduce emissions depends on what your lunch box contains. Both Fredrik and ICA have offered suggestions for healthy and nutritious vegetarian meals on

Meat and dairy products currently also account for a large proportion of your total emissions. If you abstain entirely from meat, you can reduce your emissions by 0.2-0.8 tonnes CO2 equivalent per person and year, which corresponds to the emissions from previous weeks. By replacing dairy products with oats and soya-based alternatives, emissions can be cut still further. For instance, one litre of regular dairy milk produces emissions corresponding to 1.5 kg CO2 equivalent compared with one litre of oats-based grain milk which only produces 0.3 kg CO2 equivalent.

Driving an electric car or cycling instead of taking the bus is a good alternative since the bus currently accounts for about 0.05 tonnes CO2 equivalent per person and year out of the approximately 0.2 tonnes of greenhouse gases for the travel category. If instead this distance were to be covered by bicycle, emissions would be zero and if driven in the electric car, there will only be a small increase since the car is recharged with electricity produced from hydropower. The metro is still a good alternative since it produces low emissions, 0.7 grams CO2 equivalent/person km compared with the bus which gives 27 grams/person km.

Emissions from furniture production are shown in the “Other” category, as part of the “rucksack”. You can choose to do without certain items of furniture, and emissions will decrease proportionately with the amount of furniture the family can do without. At present, emissions for the household’s total complement of furniture are 0.3 tonnes per person and year. If you can do without one-fifth of the furniture in your home, emissions can be cut by about 0.05 tonnes.
Recreational activities currently account for 0.1 tonnes CO2 equivalent per person and year. In order to get rid of emissions from this category, you will have to decline indoor activities.

Good luck!

Anna Björk & Fredrik Hedenus”

From forest to finished house – part 1: the sawmill

While the Lindells were in Göteborg they took the opportunity drive south to Anneberg outside Kungsbacka, where A-hus has its production facilities. A-hus is part of the Derome Group, which traces its roots to 1947 when Karl Andersson started the first sawmill in Derome in the province of Halland. Today the Derome Group is Sweden’s largest family-owned wood processing operation. Here at we touch base three times and follow the family on their visit to the sawmill and the factory that builds the houses.

The lumber is transported to a depot outside the building …

…and carried on a conveyor into the sawmill.

Inside the sawmill A-hus President Peter Mossbrant (standing between Alicja and Nils) spoke with enthusiasm about how sawn tree-trunks become ready-to-use timber.

The lumber enters the sawmill …

…and the sorting process begins. In his blog following the family’s visit, Nils writes about his fascination with the technology he saw at the mill. Mechanical old-school handling with toothed wheels blends with ultra-modern laser technology that calculates how each piece of lumber is to be cut to ensure minimum material waste.

The noise level in the sawmill is high and everyone had to use ear defenders inside the premises. Peter Mossbrant explains the sorting process to Hannah.

The lumber has now been transformed into timber.

Jonathan was very interested …

…as was Alicja…

…who is examining the final sorting process.

The finished timber is stacked outside the sawmill.

From forest to finished house – part 2: Biofuel

The Derome Group specialises in the wood processing operations and together with its subsidiary A-hus has a very strong pro-environmental profile. In addition to building low-energy homes such as the One Tonne Life house, the company also works in the following areas:

Wood – lobbies for increased use of wood in construction (as a building material wood is 10 times more climate-friendly than concrete)

Bio-energy – supplies biofuels (see below)

Solar heating – uses solar energy systems

Wind power – meeting all its electricity needs by 2012

Energy efficiency enhancement – to reduce consumption in production

Forestry – helps forest owners migrate to environmentally optimised forestry methods

During the Lindell family’s visit, Jonathan and A-hus President Peter Mossbrant size up the mountain of wood shavings produced by the sawmill.

Peter explains how the wood shavings from the sawmill are compressed to form pellets that can be used as fuel in the boiler.

Hannah, on the other hand, put the wood shavings to good use, improving her tan in the spring sunshine.

Putting their cards on the table

“Two planets meet out in space. One looks sick and droopy, so the other asks how things are with the suffering planet. ‘I’ve got a dose of homo sapiens,’ replies the sick planet. The other planet nods wisely and says sympathetically: ‘Don’t worry, it’ll soon disappear’.”

Despite the seriousness of the issue, Johan Rockström joked to illustrate the increasingly worrying situation facing planet Earth when he presented “The Big Denial” with co-author Anders Wijkman at the Ekocentrum environmental centre in Göteborg.

The two renowned eco-proponents collaborated closely on the book. Johan Rockström is director of the Stockholm Environment Institute and the Stockholm Resilience Center and has overall responsibility for research into planetary boundaries. Anders Wijkman is perhaps best known as a former EU parliamentarian but has also served as Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Secretary-General of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation and the Red Cross. Nowadays he works for the Tällberg Foundation and other institutes.

Their main point is that scientific expertise today paints a highly alarming picture of the planet’s condition. One example is the carbon dioxide levels that serve as the politicians’ sounding-board in UN climate negotiations. The consensus used to be that at 450 ppm carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the Earth would warm by no more than 2 degrees. The latest research, however, indicates a temperature rise between 2 and 8 degrees, a level of uncertainty that spells the difference between a dangerous climatic change and a catastrophic one. Rockström says that there has been a tendency among scientists to understate their research findings because the real results would frighten the politicians into paralysed passivity because “it’s too late anyway to do anything about it”. Two-thirds of the Earth’s ecosystem is being over-exploited beyond its sustainable capacity. We are living on the capital and not on the interest – something that can be done for a short period but not in the long term because eventually the capital – the savings on which we depend – will run out. And it all ties in together – there’s a huge risk of an extreme domino effect. If one ecosystem collapses, so too will the rest. He provided the example of overfishing, which leads to a chain reaction whereby the oceans cannot absorb as much carbon dioxide as before. If we draw graphs of all these problem areas, what emerges is a dangerous “follow-my-leader” game being played with global expansion.

The authors tackled growth as it is composed today and presented a number of solutions: among the examples they gave were ways of supplementing the GDP index, products in closed lifecycle patterns known as the Cradle to Cradle approach, design that mimics Nature (biomimicry), business models where services or “functions” replace objects and so on.

Wijkman and Rockström have the reputation and pedagogic competence needed to deliver this type of holistic picture of the situation. They also dealt with the issue of climate deniers and how they should be perceived.

“We’re sure to be cannon-fodder in the commentary sections on the Internet,” joked Wijkman.
But the deniers and sceptics show that the issue must be examined from several perspectives. It is not enough to simply put facts on the table. We have to learn more about behavioural science – entirely new messengers are needed to communicate these issues.

Ingemar Gustafsson is editor of Camino and lecturer on the subject of “The Dilemma of Growth”, in other words that growth in its present form is exhausting the Earth’s resources, while absence of growth tends to lead to difficult economic and social consequences.

Time for dry rations?

In bygone ages, spring was a time for living on dry rations. Early summer primeurs were not yet ready for harvest, at the same time as the potatoes stored in the earth cellar ahead of the winter months were running out. This isn’t something we often think about even though this was the reality for most people in Sweden a century ago.

Today we can buy all sorts of vegetables even during the winter months. In order to live climate-smart, however, you really need to go back to doing what your grandmother did – make up meals based on root vegetables and look forward to the seasonal premiere for crisp Swedish-cultivated delicacies such as asparagus and lettuce!

Here are some hot tips for smart food in the cool month of April:
• Root vegetables are as usual difficult to knock off their top spot. Why not make the parsnip soup shown in the photo above? Recipe
• Look in the supermarket’s freezer counter for interesting vegetable mixes and delicious berries
• Swedish bean sprouts and sunflower shoots add both colour and crisp texture to any meal!
• Cultivate your own watercress in your own window-box at home

Christina Karlsson, ICA

Heat fiends in the bathroom

Many of us have spent good money on heat fiends in the bathroom. They sure improve our comfort level, but everything comes at a price. And that price can be unnecessarily high if we don’t keep a watchful eye on what’s going on. Here are two real heat fiends that cause us to clutch at our wallets in despair when the electricity bill pops through the mailbox.

Electrically heated towel rails. You get wonderfully warm, soft and dry towels – at a cost of more than 1,000 kronor a year if you don’t watch out. Switch off the heated rails when your towels are dry and you’ll halve your costs.

Electric underfloor heating in the bathroom. Cosy and pampering like nothing else. Many people also take the opportunity to turn up the bathroom thermostat, perhaps to 23 degrees C which is wonderful after you step out of the shower early in the morning. 4,000 kronor a year is a normal cost in terms of electricity for 10 m2 of electrically heated floor. So there’s money to be saved by trying to keep to 20 degrees C and making sure the bathroom door is always shut, to prevent that expensive heat from escaping and heating up the rest of the house, thus unnecessarily increasing your electricity consumption. One simple tip is to switch off the underfloor heating once you’ve completed your toilette in the morning.

Lars Ejeklint, Vattenfall

Volvo C30 Electric and safety

One issue linked to this business of electric cars that I feel is very interesting is that of safety. Driving around with 24 kWh in the luggage compartment may feel rather special for many people. 1 kWh is the energy needed to lift 1200 kg 300 metres straight into the air. With 24 kWh you could thus lift more than 1000 Volvos to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Here at Volvo we’ve worked a lot on the subject of safety, examining what happens if a car with this many kilowatts on board is involved in a collision. It’s an immensely interesting assignment. Early on in our development of the C30 Electric we decided to accept the challenge – we wouldn’t be delivering any electric car to the market if it wasn’t as safe as any other model in the entire Volvo range. What are your thoughts? Is safety for electric cars something you’ve thought about?

See some clips from collision tests we conducted with the electric car:

All the tests went really well. We’re absolutely certain that the battery pack’s location in the middle of the car is the perfect solution.

Malin Person, Volvo

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