About Brøset

Towards carbon neutral settlements
– processes, concept development and implementation

Background
According to the Norwegian Government, Norway shall be a carbon neutral nation within 2030. If we shall reach this ambitious but necessary goal, we must be able to construct local carbon neutral settlements within few years from now. Therefore, we must act now and identify what this goal means for the development of building and physical infrastructure on a local scale.
In Trondheim there are continuous plans for and development of new housing areas. Last autumn (2007), the local authorities of Trondheim selected the area Brøset to be developed as “a sustainable neighborhood”. “Sustainable” is defined in a holistic way, including low energy demand and healthy materials as well as social and economic issues such as low cost housing for vulnerable groups.
This political goal corresponds well with a vision developed during spring 2007 by an interdisciplinary group of researchers, planners and governmental institutions for creating a carbon neutral settlement in Trondheim. The project group includes the disciplines industrial ecology, architecture and planning, engineering, social sciences and humaniora and consists of researchers both from NTNU and SINTEF Building and Infrastructure. The group also includes representatives the municipality of Trondheim.
Brøset is an area of 350 da, owned partly by the Norwegian state (Statsbygg) and partly by the county of Sør Trøndelag. A preliminary estimation shows that it is possible to build about 1200 new dwellings at Brøset. Initially, the state and the county proposed to sell Brøset to the highest bidder without any restrictions. In April 2008, however, the local authorities of Trondheim decided that the municipality should be in charge of the planning process of Brøset. Trondheim may even buy the land (or parts of it) in order to control the development of the area. This provides a good starting point for achieving the vision set out for the area: To create a carbon neutral neighbourhood in Trondheim that combines low energy demand with a socially sustainable living environment. The latter implies that the settlement should be accessible for all kinds of residents, including low income and other vulnerable groups.

Frontiers of knowledge

Designing carbon neutral settlements is not only a matter of technology and material and energy use, but includes lifestyle, housing patterns, transportation and leisure-related travel. The aim is to create neighbourhoods in which residents can live, work, shop, go to school and find meaningful leisure activities; it is about designing settlements that enable people to lower their “carbon footprint”. The growing acknowledgement of imminent climate change as well as the rapidly increasing oil price has broadened the interest for issues of energy-consumption related to urban development globally both within research and urban development. These issues have been investigated on a variety of scales and in many countries. Some relevant examples are also presented on this page.



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