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

Tag: CO2 emissions

Sun, wind and water

“Sun, wind and water – the best things in life” sang Swedish star Ted Gärdestad many years ago. The Lindell family’s electricity is produced from the sun and water. When the time came for them to choose which type of electricity they would use when the sun’s rays were not up to the job, the choice was between wind and water. Alicja wanted the family to go for wind, while Nils wanted electricity from water. In true family spirit they chose to start off with hydro-power and to switch to wind-power when the time comes to renegotiate their electricity contract.

Everyone is allowed to specify their preferred source of electricity – wind, water or nuclear power. Or a mixture of all three.

When I’m asked what I would choose, I always preface my answer with a brief description of how electricity is produced in different parts of the world and in Sweden. 68% of the world’s electricity comes from fossil fuels, 13% comes from nuclear power and 19% from renewable energy sources. In Sweden, which has an abundance of hydro-power, half comes from renewable energy sources and half from nuclear power plants and combined power & heating stations (district heating plants with electricity production or industries with electricity production). Two percent of Swedish electricity comes from wind-power.

And then I generally ask a question of my own: how important is it to you?

There are many ways to assess our energy sources. From the purely engineering viewpoint one way is to conduct a lifecycle analysis, that is to say calculate the environmental footprint from the cradle to the grave. Another is to just look at the environmental impact while the power stations are in operation. The environmental impact from electricity production differs between different power sources. Electricity production in Sweden has very low emissions of CO2 compared with the world average since we do not use fossil fuels.

Follow the example of the Lindells, choose how you want your electricity to be produced!

The photograph is from the Akkats hydro-power station outside Jokkmokk.

Lars Ejeklint, Vattenfall

The book that inspired the One Tonne Life project

Want to read more about how we can adjust to a carbon dioxide-lean society? A guide book entitled “A One Tonne Future” was written to mark Vattenfall’s 100th anniversary in 2009. The book examines how a major reduction in carbon dioxide emissions could become reality within the next century, from today’s roughly seven tonnes per person and year to one tonne.

The book examines a number of different perspectives: the current situation, the challenges facing us in the future, which tools and what technology can be used to reduce emissions. But the book is also about “human power”.

“There’s no doubt that we must bring about a significant reduction in emissions, and responsibility for achieving this reduction must be allocated as fairly as possible. From the technological and financial viewpoints, it is in principle possible to stop all emissions. But for that to be possible it is also necessary for human beings to alter their attitudes and lifestyle,” says Arne Mogren, advisor on policy issues at Vattenfall and the person who took the initiative to write the book.

Read more
One Tonne Future in an abbreviated online version
To order the book, contact Safia Lodhi at Vattenfall, +46 (0)8 739 59 9,

You get what you buy!

When I buy macaroni at my local ICA supermarket, I expect the package to contain just that – macaroni. Which it always does. Furthermore, if I buy “Krav” eco-labelled macaroni I don’t expect to find that it contains traces of pesticides. There’s nothing particularly strange about any of this.

So how about when it comes to electricity? This is something one can argue about without end, and it’s into this hornet’s nest that I’m now stepping. The fundamental question to ask is whether electricity is special or not as a product. Electricity should naturally be regarded as a product just like any other. That is why regulations governing the guarantee of origin of electricity were brought in on December 1, 2010 (2010:601).  Put simply, this means that the company producing the electricity has the right to issue a certificate of origin for all electricity produced using a particular type of source. This certificate can be sold on but must be annulled once it reaches the end-customer so that it is not counted several times over. The aim of this entire legislative package is to support the use of energy from renewable sources. In the EU there is a directive on this issue which in Sweden was dealt with in government bill 2009/10:128 “Implementation of the Directive on Renewable Energy”. For anyone particularly interested in legislation, statistical data and legal texts, I recommend that you read this document in its entirety. For everyone else, what it all boils down to is that you get what you buy. Just as with the macaroni that I started off talking about.

That’s why it’s particularly important to see to it that you have a good agreement for your electricity. That is how you can be sure you are getting electricity with a small CO2 footprint and that you can make a significant contribution to cutting your CO2 emissions. For instance, Vattenfall’s electricity from hydro-power produces 6 g of CO2/kWh. If you recharge your Volvo C30 Electric with electricity from hydro-power, this corresponds to less than 1 g of CO2/km. The green-car limit is 120 g of CO2/km and the Swedish average for 2010 was 152.3 g of CO2/km (source: JATO)

You are probably familiar with the issues of marginal electricity, electricity from Danish coal-fired power stations and so on. These issues are very complex and should naturally be taken into account. But not by the customer. Marginal electricity is something that should be dealt with by the decision-makers and the power industry.

As the customer, you always get what you buy. That’s the law.

David Weiner, Volvo

Heating system

In the One Tonne Life house, it is important to demonstrate that it’s possible to live energy-efficiently without compromising on either comfort or function. The Lindell family keep the heating going on cold days by utilising the building’s two separate systems. One consists of an energy-efficient underfloor heating system. This has been supplied by Uponor and features an intelligent control system called the Uponor Control System. This technology helps to efficiently distribute energy between the various rooms to ensure the maximum possible comfort while at the same time contributing to an energy saving of about 5%, thus also cutting carbon dioxide emissions.

Underfloor heating is only installed on the ground floor, where a cold floor would otherwise make a noticeable difference. On the first floor, the only heating source is heat distribution via the incoming air. This preheated incoming air heats up the first floor via valve-operated diffusers in the bedrooms and living-room. Before the air enters the house, it passes the ventilation unit which harnesses 84% of the heat energy in the outgoing air from the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room and uses this to warm up the incoming air. If this supplementary energy is not sufficient to maintain the required indoor temperature, an additional heating system linked to the accumulator tanks steps in. This takes place on exceptionally cold days.

These two heating systems are both based on solar energy, since they are both linked via the accumulator tanks to the house’s solar panels. If the sun cannot meet the building’s heating needs, for instance during the dark winter period, an immersion heater in the primary tank is activated. The primary tank is always in use and supplies the Lindells with heating and hot water throughout the year. When the sun shines most brightly, the house produces more energy than the family needs, and that energy is diverted to the building’s slave tank from where the stored energy can be used for a longer length of time throughout the year.

Christian Axelsson, A-hus

The family members guess their final CO2 emissions

After spending just over two months in the One Tonne Life house, the Lindell family’s emissions have fluctuated between the record 2.7 tonnes and the catastrophic 9.7 tonnes when they went on their skiing holiday to Åre. We asked Alicja, Jonathan, Hannah and Nils to guess what their final figure might be when the project ends in June. They didn’t come up with any really wildly differing figures, but in general the boys were somewhat more optimistic in their assessments than the girls were. Both Nils and Jonathan guessed 1.7 tonnes while Alicja and Hannah reckoned on 2.0 tonnes. The average of their estimates is 1.9 tonnes, which means that they have another 0.8 tonnes to cut from their carbon emissions by Midsummer. We wish them the best of luck in this challenge!

There’s a cat in the family’s car-port

According to the book “Time to Eat the Dog? The Real Guide to Sustainable Living” a cat has the same environmental footprint as an electric car. The environmental impact of a dog, on the other hand, is about the same as that of an SUV. And just as with us human beings, it’s the diet that is behind it all.

The family’s cat – sorry, I mean electric car – is a Volvo C30 that costs the family 950 kronor in electricity over a period of two months. For this money, they have driven 4,000 kilometres with virtually no burden on the environment at all. If they had driven their fossil fuel-powered car the same distance, it would have cost them between 3,000 and 4,000 kronor, with emissions of almost one tonne. The electric car does make a noticeable difference.

Lars Ejeklint, Vattenfall

Hi Alicja, what’s it like to live the One Tonne Life?

The Lindell family have now spent just over two months living their carbon-lean life. They have experienced some trials along the way and learned a lot. We catch up with Alicja, Nils, Hannah and Jonathan to find out what they think thus far. First off the mark is Alicja.

The family’s emissions have fluctuated quite a lot in these first months. How do you feel about that?
“My mood swings up and down between hope and despair! When we started it felt quite difficult, especially after our week skiing in Åre, when we were at almost ten tonnes. Still, having said that I’m quite hopeful because we know the reasons and that is something we can influence. The reasons are food, travel, our purchases, that sort of thing.”

Did the Åre results come as a shock or did you have an idea of what was in store?
“No, not the way it initially turned out. I thought our footprint would increase because we were eating out at restaurants, that kind of thing. But that it would be more than when we moved in, that was a total shock! My first reaction was “This can’t be true”. But now it has dropped again, a whole lot in fact, so that’s great. Now we’re below three tonnes.”

That’s the best you have recorded so far.
“Yes, it’s inspiring. Now we’re ready to tackle all the details, do whatever it takes.”

It’s great fun reading your blog on since you always seem to have strategies for the future. What are your strategies right now?
“We’re going to return to our family meetings, which we had many years ago for planning the week ahead. How much vegetarian food we’ll eat, how much meat and what we want to achieve. So my strategy just now is to get together every Sunday and plan the coming week.”

Is it the week’s menu you will be planning, or other things too?
“Food, travel, all these kinds of things. It all adds up, food is a major part of the picture. We’re beginning to get used to the idea of taking shorter showers – we no longer spend hours in the shower. In fact, we spend less time in the shower with every day that goes by.”

So just how long do you spend in the shower now? Do you use a timer?
“Yes, we have a clock that we occasionally use, my average is now three minutes. The next stage may be to wet your body, soap yourself, turn off the water in the meantime and then turn it on again. There too we can make savings, it’s worth a try.”

What has been the most fun so far in this project?
“Personally what I enjoy most is meeting all these people, whom I’d never have the opportunity to meet otherwise. You pick up new ideas all the time from the many experts we meet in the course of this project.”

What has been your biggest “Aha!” experience so far?
“We’re quite well-informed about food and healthy diet and we’ve always tried to buy as much ecologically cultivated food as possible, even before this, for reasons of principle. But thinking in terms of climate is a different matter, the two don’t always go together. Then there’s the matter of water consumption and electricity, this business of not letting the water run unnecessarily, that sort of thing. There’s a lot to do.”

It sounds like you have a different holistic perspective today.
“Absolutely, I feel I have a different approach today, but I still don’t know enough. Knowledge is needed if we are to understand how it all ties in together. There are masses of people who don’t have this knowledge, who believe that if only they eat more ecologically cultivated food they’re living a more sustainable life. That’s not quite all there is to it.”

If you were to hazard a guess, what figure do you think you could realistically put for your emissions by the end of the project?
“I’m not a gambler, but I really believe we have a chance of reducing by another tonne, bringing us down to two. I’d like to drop to one tonne, but I’m not entirely sure it’s possible. So I’ll stake my bet on two tonnes – if we make that target I’ll be really pleased.”

The house’s solar cells

The Lindells have solutions that will make things easier for them on their journey towards one tonne of carbon dioxide emissions per person per year. One of the challenges the family are facing is to reduce their electricity consumption. In order to further cut their energy usage, the One Tonne Live house will produce its own energy. Firstly via solar heating and secondly via solar cells that generate electricity. The electricity is produced by the house’s own solar cells which are fitted on the south-facing roof and façade. This electricity is used by the Lindells for cooking, recharging the family’s electric car and for powering other equipment at home. The solar heat that the house stores will produce most energy while the house is empty, for instance during the day while everyone is at work and school or while they are away during their summer vacation. Since solar heating produces a surplus of electricity, this will be fed into Vattenfall’s grid, with a corresponding amount of electricity fed back into the house when the sun is not shining.

The cells, made by Sulfurcell, are what are known as thin-film solar cells. All told, the One Tonne Life house’s 96 square metres of solar panelling will produce about 5000kWh/year in a normal year. Factors that affect actual output are how sunny the weather is during the year, the angle of the panels facing the sun, and the direction they face. The geographic location of the house itself is also a major factor – a house in the southern Swedish province of Skåne will produce more electricity than one in Norrland in the north of the country.

There are several different types of solar cell technology and thin-film is one of them. The advantages of the thin-film solution are its design and the fact that it creates a uniform, neatly integrated impression, as well as its price. This is an important consideration in order to recoup their cost over the years.

Christian Axelsson, A-hus

Skiing holidays and the climate

Skiing is fun. Great fun. Here in Göteborg and elsewhere in Sweden, schoolchildren are enjoying the annual week’s break when they get the chance to go on skiing holidays with their parents.

How does their trip to the ski resorts impact the climate? Put simply, a short trip is better than a long one, and travelling by train is better than going by car, which in turn is better than flying. I’ve made my calculations using a few different examples, including a trip to the Alps (in this case Verbier) and two ski resorts in Sweden – Åre and Sälen.

The basic data for the project states that an aircraft emits 245 g of CO2/person km, a bus produces 40 g of CO2/person km, a Volvo V70 DRIVe 34.5 g of CO2/person km and a train in Sweden emits 1.5 g of CO2/person km. For the V70 we have assumed 4 people are in the car, and 500 g of CO2/l diesel during manufacture. The V70 DRIVe consumes 4.5 l/100 km and emits 119 g of CO2/km in mixed driving. The C30 Electric is not a viable alternative at present since the battery pack’s operating range is too much of a limitation. On the other hand, the V60 plug-in hybrid will handle a long trip perfectly.

We can begin with the Alps and their marvellous ski slopes. From Stockholm the distance is about 1800 km as the crow flies and 1900 km by road. It is possible to fly to the Alps, supplementing the last stretch with a transfer service, and it is also possible to get there by bus or in your own car. I have discounted the train as an alternative quite simply because it is far too complicated owing to the many changes necessary. By air, total CO2 emissions including transfer will be about 900 kg of CO2 per person for the return trip. By bus the figure is 155 kg of CO2 and by car it is 174 kg of CO2 there and back. The car and bus are thus quite close to each other in terms of CO2 emissions. For the car I have based my calculations on 30% higher fuel consumption since the car will be heavily loaded and speed will be relatively high through Germany. If instead the car and its occupants take the overnight ferry from Göteborg to Kiel in order to cut down on driving, CO2 emissions actually go up by 43 kg to 217 kg of CO2/person.

The distance to the Swedish ski slopes is shorter. Stockholm to Åre is about 660 kilometres. With an overnight train from Stockholm, total CO2 emissions for the trip are about 2 kg and by car the figure is 46 kg of CO2. Travelling to Sälen by railway means changing trains several times just as in the case of the Alps, making the train an impractical alternative. On the other hand, there are several direct bus services from Stockholm. Sälen is just over 400 km from Stockholm. The bus ride from Stockholm to Sälen results in 34 kg of CO2 per person. For the same trip in a V70 DRIVe emissions of CO2 will total 28 kg. So the result is somewhat lower emissions of CO2 for a family travelling by car to the Swedish ski slopes compared to taking the bus.

That was a whole lot of statistics, so here is a simplified table showing the results.

To the Alps kg of CO2 return trip per person
Air 893
Bus 155
Car 174
Car + ferry 217

To the Swedish slopes

Åre by car 46
Åre by train 2
Sälen by bus 34
Sälen by car 28

As I said initially, it can be clearly seen that shorter trips are better than longer ones, and the train is better than the car, which in turn is better than flying. However, it is not always that the bus is a better choice than the car. These two transport modes are roughly equal if there are four occupants in the car.

Have a really great time on the slopes! If you are in Sälen, take the opportunity to try out Volvo’s skid-pan with a bit of that really exciting “Ice Racing” feel. It’s both fun and educational.

You can find out more about Volvo’s various offers in Sälen at

David Weiner, Volvo

Transport’s eco-footprint

There are few products that arouse as much emotion as cars. There are very few people who do not have feelings on the subject of our cars – and some people have very strong feelings indeed on the subject. It’s an unavoidable fact that we need some form of transport in today’s society. Here at Volvo Cars, we know that the car will continue to play an important role in our lives in the future. The exciting challenge facing us is to reduce the environmental footprint of our cars.

So what exactly is the car situation in Sweden? There are 4.3 million cars on the roads here. According to national statistics agency SCB, Sweden’s cars cover an average of 14,540 km a year. In 2010, almost 290,000 new cars took to the roads. Of these, 51 % were diesels and 40 % were green cars. The average CO2 figure for the full year is not available at the time of writing but for the first half of 2010, the nation’s cars produced average CO2 emissions of 154 g CO2/km. This corresponds to about 5.9 litres of diesel per 100 km or 6.7 litres of petrol per 100 km. Over the past three years a lot has happened regarding the energy-efficiency of cars. For new models, emissions of carbon dioxide have been cut by 15 %.

How does the Lindell family measure up in this respect? They have been running two cars whose fuel consumption is pretty much average, and they cover virtually the average Swedish annual mileage. Of each family member’s CO2 emissions of just over 7.2 tonnes per person and year, the two cars account for 14 % of the total. That’s all. And that figure includes manufacture of the cars and their fuel consumption.

That is why things will become particularly interesting now that the Lindells have a Volvo C30 Electric that produces no carbon dioxide at all from the tailpipe – because there is no tailpipe. When they recharge the car with renewable electricity, the car’s environmental footprint per km will be very low. The Lindells will also have access to a Volvo Green Car Drive pool vehicle when they need more than one car or when the go on a journey that is longer than the electric car’s operating range. We are going to precisely monitor the family’s CO2 footprint for all their transport needs. And of course production of the car itself is included in our calculations. I will talk more about this later, as well as the way the various transport alternatives perform against each other. This spring, we here at Volvo, the Lindell family and hopefully you, the reader, will all gain plenty of fresh new insights.

David Weiner, Volvo

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