Recently the local council has been very proud to present its involvement with a building project which it hopes will be a blueprint for the new Kiruna. It’s a building to house two families, and it’s totally ‘climate friendly’ and energy efficient. There is a slight drawback though – it’s three or four times the cost of a usual new-build house. So when the mining company offers you compensation for moving – market value of your house plus 25% – you aren’t going to be able to afford to buy one of these.
But never mind that. Nothing wrong with developing energy efficient houses, in a climate where energy costs are high. The house has been nominated for the ‘Building of the Year 2015 Award’ and the council are keen for us to know about this. Energy efficiency and being ‘climate smart’ is an admirable goal after all.
I think about it quite often in Kiruna, the need to remember the environment and not use energy sources unnecessarily. When I see the empty downhill ski slope, for instance, with its mass of electric lighting, and no-one skiing there. Or the street lighting in Kiruna – you won’t easily find a dark corner here (and that’s a pity when you’re looking for the northern lights). I think about it when a petrol-guzzling snowmobile roars past out in the fjäll. I think about it when 15 year olds chug past in their EPA tractors, exhaust fumes pouring from the roof of the car.
I look to see what else the newspaper reports think is good about this house. I read they are all very impressed that it has a system that recycles the shower water, reducing water consumption by 90%.
Water shortages can be a big problem. In California for instance. But a house which recycles shower water, in Kiruna?
That’s Kiruna, the town that’s surrounded by a landscape of ice and snow and lakes, where the land is so sodden you can’t walk on it most of the year, and there’s a year-round supply of melting snow. Kiruna, where six cubic metres of water are used a minute, for hours on end, day after day, to make the ski slope in town nice and slippery.
Has anyone else noticed this is a problem we don’t actually have?