Gareth Huw Davies

Environment Blog

"One Tonne Life" – Can a household cut its Co2 output by 85%?

Electrifying challenge - Volvo C30 will cut family's Co2. Photo - Volvo

The estimable 10:10 project has been urging us to cut our carbon footprint by just a little (10% in 2010), and many have taken the challenge, concluding that such a teensy-weensy reduction can’t be so hard.

But what if you’re asked to cut your carbon by 85% — that’s the reduction in consumption from today’s global average rate of seven tonnes of C02 per person per year, to a one tonne per person per year? It’s where experts think we really need to be to minimise the human impact on long-term climate change.

“Tough” doesn’t even describe it. But we soon know. A Swedish family will move into a purpose-built home early in 2011, and start using technology (much of it available to the public today) to try to attain that ambitious target. We will find out a lot about what we all need to do to make the savage cuts in output from their experience.

Car manufacturer Volvo is joining two other Swedish companies – house builder A-hus and energy supplier Vattenfall – in the project “One Tonne Life”  to test whether a typical family can cut their carbon footprint by more than 85% by switching to more sustainable housing, transport and energy solutions.

An “ordinary” Swedish family will be recruited to live in an energy-efficient A-hus house , featuring state-of-the-art insulation and ventilation systems, solar power for hot water, heating and electric appliances. Energy supplier Vattenfall will measure the family’s electricity consumption in real time.  The family will drive Volvo’s electric C30 car for six-months. Chelmer University will track their energy usage to see how the new technology changes their habits and improves energy efficiency.

“With the right know-how, the right technology and a consistent attitude, we believe it is possible to approach the one-tonne target already today – and without making any major sacrifices to one’s regular lifestyle,” says Torbjorn Wahlborg, Managing Director of energy provider Vattenfall Nordic Region.

“Much of the technology and the solutions  are already available to the public or will be very future. This is no science-fiction project.”

The house is currently going up in Hasselby Villastad in the western parts of Stockholm and the hunt has begun for a family to move in from early 2011.

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