Green Cities Fit for Life

Image by Jean-Dominique Billaud


Umeå is one of the fastest growing European cities and is the centre of growth in northern Sweden. Its population has increased by 50% in the last 50 years to 119,000 inhabitants. It has also been selected European Capital of the Culture in 2014.


Umeå’s environmental ambitions are supported by the active involvement of its citizens, communities, local and regional businesses. This is completed through initiatives such as “Be Green Umeå” to communicate and demonstrate the benefits of green mobility and sustainable living for citizens.

Umeå has seven strategic long-term objectives adopted by the City Council which include growth with sustained social, ecological and economic development towards 200,000 citizens in 2050. As a small city Umeå views itself as a test bed for medium to large sized cities in developing transferrable and ready-to-use demos.


Umeå, in a joint venture with the bus transport authority, has established the world’s first ultra-fast charged electric buses with hybrid backup. This Hybricon Bus system is a unique, energy efficient, clean and silent bus system solution which has been adapted to extreme winter climate conditions and is already tested in service. In 2011, Hybricon were honoured with the prestigious prize Future Transport Award for public transportation.


In improving air quality in the city Umeå has set a long term objective of reducing the concentration of NO2 emissions and creating a healthy air environment. Umeå has largely implemented the first Air Quality Plan introduced in 2009 with 11 of the 17 objectives implemented fully, two partially implemented, and two planned for implementation by 2018.


Umeå is establishing itself as a leader in the area of sustainable construction in cold climates which is a vision that has been developed by all stakeholders. The City of Umeå serves as a cutting edge city with strict building energy standards, where energy use in new buildings shall not exceed 65kWh/m2/year, that are unique to the city and is of particular note considering that Umeå is a city with a predominantly modern built environment, but located in a cold climate region.