Växjö was named “Europe’s greenest city” by the BBC in 2007, which led to massive interest in the city from policymakers, entrepreneurs and journalists from around the world eager to learn from its example. However, this green success has not been achieved in one day, but it has been the result of many years’ work and a clear environmental policy.
The story of Växjö’s environmental engagement dates back to the 1960s. At that time, the lakes in the city were very polluted - a local environmental problem that you could see and smell. Local politicians took the decision to restore the lakes, and this showed that it was possible to do something about environmental problems. The once-polluted lakes in and around the city have provided an important lesson on how environmental action at a local level can have an effect. Later, the city changed from oil to biomass energy. “Passive” apartment blocks that require no external energy source for heating have been built; solar panels have been installed in schools and on the roof of the City Hall; and charging stations for electric cars can be found around the city. By 2013, all biological household waste will be used to make biogas that will power city buses and private vehicles.
In the early nineties the Green Party was very active in Växjö. It also managed to “green” the municipality’s administration. The decision to reduce carbon dioxide emissions was made that time. As a result, up to 2008 fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions had been reduced by 35% per inhabitant compared to 1993. At the same time, economic growth had increased by 69%. This is a great example of sustainable, low carbon dioxide and resource-effective economy based on sustainable production.
The name of Greenest city in Europe given to the City of Växjö further encouraged local politicians to intensify the efforts in environmental areas. The Revised Environmental programme was approved by the Växjö city council last year. It contains three prioritised profile areas: Living life, Our Nature and Fossil Fuel Free Växjö. The programme takes its starting point from 16 national and regional environmental objectives, the principal aims of which are incorporated into profile areas. It provides inhabitants, companies, organisations and authorities with inspiration for their own environmental activities.