Ljusekulla – life, cultivation and future

On 80 hectares of land, east of the city of Helsingborg the future is growing. Together with our partners, Skanska plan to develop Sweden's first climate-positive city district – Ljusekulla. This new city district will contribute to a better society by showing how cities can grow and develop without affecting the climate in a negative way.

The goal is for Ljusekulla is to be sustainable on several levels, both regarding human well-being and the environment. The good conditions for cultivation will be developed and the environmental impact will be minimized. We want to create climate benefits that offset the strain on the climate that cannot be avoided during construction, and during people's everyday lives here.

We also want to inspire Ljusekulla residents to a more sustainable and healthy life, where people of all ages and from different cultures and backgrounds grow as individuals.

A climate-positive neighborhood

The vision for Ljusekulla is to become a climate-positive district. We are only satisfied when 10 percent more carbon dioxide is absorbed in the city district, than what is generated during the construction phase and during 50 years of use. This means that the climate benefit minus the climate emissions in the city district must be exceeded by at least 10 percent.

To ensure that the district really becomes climate-positive, a method is needed to calculate the area's climate balance. To visualize this, we use a scale with the area’s climate emissions on one side and climate benefits on the other.

The road to a climate-positive Ljusekulla

Urban development always increases greenhouse gas, therefore reducing the emissions is our top priority. This is why we design and build Ljusekulla in wood and climate-improved concrete. The steel used is scrap-based and several of the houses are built with a large proportion of recycled material. The roads are built using bio asphalt and the walking paths are built with crushed stone flour. Machines and vehicles are powered by electricity or fossil-free HVO fuel. Minimizing the amount of waste and transport means that emissions are much lower than normal.

No matter how climate-efficient our building process is, we currently do not reach zero emissions. Therefore, we also need to plan the city area so that the climate benefits are maximized. We need to make room for as many carbon sinks as possible, both built-in and natural. Innovative solutions in recycling, reuse and circular flow also contribute to a positive climate balance in Ljusekulla.

To reduce emissions from energy use, an innovative energy solution we call KliNC has been developed (read more below). With this energy solution, more solar energy is produced than is needed. Storage makes it possible, if necessary, to contribute solar energy to others who can then avoid the import of fossil-based electricity.

Our method for becoming climate positive includes the opportunity to invest in carbon sinks within the city, but you cannot buy climate compensation outside the municipality's boundaries. In Ljusekulla, we can solve the climate balance within the district.

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Carbon sinks reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere

Forests, nature areas and fields are important natural carbon sinks. In Ljusekulla, the carbon sinks that already exist are preserved and opportunities for new carbon sinks are created. Existing trees are preserved, and all soil is reused within the district. Parts of the agricultural land are made into wetland areas, which further increases the carbon uptake.

In Ljusekulla, the largest carbon sink are the trees. By planting forests and nature areas, we create natural carbon sinks. Trees contribute to important ecosystem services for both humans and animals. We plan to plant 9,000 trees from various native species.

Built-in materials also contribute to carbon sinks. By using wood in construction, we preserve the carbon that is stored in the wood and prevent it from spreading as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Another effective carbon sink is biochar, which will be produced in the district. It is also used for heat production and acts as a good soil improver.

KliNC - a system solution for climate-neutral city districts

KliNC stands for climate local heating circularity, which in Swedish is abbreviated KliNC. It is the term used for the technical systems that contribute to the district's electricity, heating, cooling, water and taking care of the wastewater.

KliNC consists of a number of different technical solutions that together contribute to building the climate-neutral cities of the future. In Ljusekulla, we have created an example of how KliNC can be adapted to create the best possible solution from the perspectives of climate and economy.

KliNC is designed in Ljusekulla as an independent solution with a high degree of self-sufficiency, but the system can also be integrated with an existing district heating network. In both cases, KliNC provides a very low climate impact.

How is the KliNC solution intended to work in Ljusekulla?

During the summer, there is a surplus of solar energy from all the solar-optimized roofs within Ljusekulla. This solar energy is used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. In the process, waste heat is formed that can be used for domestic hot water in the homes. The buildings also use a combination of heat pumps and PVT panels (a hybrid of solar cells and solar heat) for additional hot water production. The hydrogen gas is stored underground and used during the winter to generate electricity, heat and hot water with the help of fuel cell technology. This is when the importance of wind turbines is the greatest.

The area will have ten wind turbines with wooden frames that will be placed within the green recreation areas. Batteries will be used for short-term storage and electricity equalization, so that wind power electricity is used optimally within the city district. During spring and fall, there are periods of time when the hybrid solution solar/heat pumps fulfill the heat demand together with the biochar boiler which, in addition to biochar, also provides heat.

A city district with the cultivation of the future

The fields are perfect for food production and the soil is very fertile. At the same time, more housing is needed as the urban population grows. In Ljusekulla, the goal is to continue to produce the same amount of food measured in calories, in an area that previously consisted of fields but is turned into a new city district. Food production can be maintained in the area, but in new forms and in harmony with the emerging residential area.


The classic cultivation methods must be abandoned, and a number of different cultivation methods combined. It provides a variety of crops, which means that part of the residents' nutritional needs can be met with food from the area. Soil that is preserved or relocated within the area is refined through circular systems. By preserving the fertile topsoil, it continues to function as topsoil and as a carbon sink.

Food cultivation is integrated in all parts of the city district

here are areas for professional cultivation, and the opportunity for residents to grow crops. This means that the varying cultivation areas can be used in an efficient way. Food cultivation will permeate recreational areas, where a large part of the bush and tree population produces fruit, berries, nuts and seeds. Herbs, bushes and trees are planted in the yards of residential houses, producing edible plant parts. Within the Ljusekulla, there will be education and jobs linked to cultivation and other ecosystem services.

From an early age, the children in the city district learn about cultivation and nature. Connections are planned between preschool, school and surrounding landscapes with plantations and biotopes of various kinds. Creating an understanding of the natural systems at a young age, increases awareness throughout life about the importance of a sustainable approach to the earth we live on.

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A strong green identity permeates the city district

This is a selection of how green areas are planned in Ljusekulla:

  • The area's green identity and cultural heritage are important in the new city district. Ljusekulla is permeated by sustainability with the green environment and its edible plants. The beauty of the area increases well-being and leads to commitment and pride.
  • In Ljusekulla, it is easy to do recreational activities. There is a recreational path and an outdoor gym. The paths also lead to green areas outside the city district.
  • The accessibility to green environments helps with stress management and recovery in everyday life.
  • Centrally located in Ljusekulla there is an area for play and recreation. A small lake is surrounded by green places for picnics.
  • Through recreation, play and cultivation, arenas are created for meetings between people from different cultures and ages. The cultivation center offers space for a market, café and education facilities.
  • Cultivation and management of nature and water treatment plants creates a need for labor.
  • In the green environments, opportunities arise for work training and daily activities. Parts of the city district can function as a rehabilitation garden. Crops grown in the area can be sold at a local marketplace, which at the same time becomes a social meeting place

Increased amount of ecosystem services

Ecosystem services is a collective name for all products and services that ecosystems provide to humans and are vital to the existence of humanity. Ljusekulla contributes to increase the amount of ecosystem services, which makes it easier to live a sustainable life within the city district.

Some examples of how ecosystem services in Ljusekulla are promoted:

  • Good conditions are created for the supporting ecosystem services photosynthesis, soil formation, nutrient cycles, water cycle and biodiversity. They are a precondition for other ecosystem services.

  • The area forms a foundation for the regulatory ecosystem services: air and water purification, climate regulation and nature's ability to handle extreme weather.

  • The city district's various forms of greenery, with flowers all year round and varying biotopes, means a great biodiversity. It is a prerequisite for pollination of the plants in the area, which in turn is a cornerstone for a good harvest.

  • Reversing the trend of increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere is crucial for future life. In addition to reducing emissions, it is important to preserve and increase carbon storage through carbon sinks. The soil in the area must be preserved.

  • The city district is permeated by areas that provide space for the supporting ecosystem services, food production, purification of water and production of oxygen through a large number of plants, as well as production of materials such as energy forest. Beautifying elements make residents feel comfortable and enjoy their environment.

  • The cultural ecosystem services that the city district offers are important for the health and well-being of the inhabitants. The contact with the surrounding cultural landscape puts the city district in its geographical and historical context.

Different ways of cultivating in an urban environment

Through aquaponic cultivation, nutrients from fish grown in basins in the area are used, which in combination with fish farming provides food in the form of both vegetables and fish. This means a lot of nutrition in relation to the utilized area. Trees in combination with agriculture benefit the soil's micro-life and provide robust cultivation systems. By cultivating locally, food transport can be reduced, and the degree of self-sufficiency is increased in Ljusekulla.

Through aquaponic cultivation, nutrients from fish grown in basins in the area are used, which in combination with fish farming provides food in the form of both vegetables and fish. This means a lot of nutrition in relation to the utilized area. Trees in combination with agriculture benefit the soil's micro-life and provide robust cultivation systems. By cultivating locally, food transport can be reduced and the degree of self-sufficiency is increased in Ljusekulla.

Agroforestry (trees + annual crops)

Agroforestry is a collective term for agriculture that combines cultivation of trees and crops. In plantations where trees are combined with annual crops, ecological balance is created and the cultivation benefits the soil's micro-life, insects and birds and provides robust cultivation systems.

Agroforestry also helps insects find food and resting places in land cultivation and among the flowering bushes and trees. Rows of trees in the city also help reduce the risk of overfertilization in streams. During heavy rainfall, manure and nutrients flow down into the ditches and into lakes to a greater extent if there are no trees. The trees are also beneficial as they store carbon dioxide in their roots, trunks and branches. The large and deep root systems of trees also help keep the soil in place during rainfall and wind. The wind is a problem on mainly large plains with vast fields.

Hydroponic vertical cultivation

Hydroponic cultivation means cultivation in water and is a technology that became popular in Sweden during the 1970s. Today, there is better lighting technology, which makes the method more sustainable as the crops are dependent on artificial light.

With hydroponic cultivation, it is possible to grow lettuce and herbs, but also chili, tomatoes, flowers and strawberries. In a hydroponic vertical cultivation, it is suitable to grow herbs, lettuce and sprouts or microgreens. Vertical cultivation is a way of cultivating indoors, on the floor of a shelf system with LED lighting. This means that we can produce crops indoors, all year round in a smaller area.

Aquaponic farming and fish farming

Aquaponic cultivation is a method for cultivating plants in water and fish farming in a closed, environmentally friendly cultivation system. The nutrition from one kilogram of fish provides nutrition to about ten kilograms of vegetables. Aquaponics is an old method and one of the most resource-efficient production methods available for food. In Sweden, there are currently few aquaponics, but the potential for development is great.

In an aquaponic cultivation, it is possible to cultivate a variety of fish and plants with low environmental impact. It is also possible to control energy use and dispose of the overfertilization that other types of fish farming usually contribute.

The water circulates between fish and plant matter. The only water consumed is the water that the plants absorb and the water evaporating from the tanks.

A neighborhood full of life

Ljusekulla is planned with regard to human health and well-being. Regardless of background, age and financial situation, you should be able to live here, grow as an individual, and have access to a good quality of life. The settlement consists of two villages on either side of Lussebäcken. Everything you need in your everyday life is close: housing, preschool and school, job opportunities, stores, places for gathering and a meaningful leisure time. Cultivation has a prominent place in the area. Anyone who wants to, will be able to cultivate, perhaps in a greenhouse on the roof or in their own cultivation area.

Feeling comfortable and safe

Ljusekulla is based on research on what makes people feel comfortable and safe. Examples are opportunities for social gatherings but also the opportunity to be private, mixed forms of housing that allow you to meet naturally in everyday life, access to common functions and destinations, and secure street environments. We have built what is important for people into the city district's structure.

Everyday movement, mobility and recreation

In Ljusekulla, people should be able to easily take part in activities meaning exercise and recreation, which are important for well-being and health. What matters most is that Ljusekulla is planned so that walking and cycling are the most accessible and flexible ways to get around the area. Complemented by public transport, you can get to the rest of Helsingborg in a sustainable way. The cars are parked in one of the two mobility houses. The road between the villages is only open for bicycles, buses, taxis and rescue services. If you want to take the car from one village to the other, you will have to drive around the city district. There are many lanes that connect the city district adapted for cyclists and pedestrians – winding gravel roads in the green when you want to experience nature, and faster paved lanes when you need to get to school or the store quickly.

Culture and cultivation center – the heart of Ljusekulla

The heart of the area will be the culture and cultivation center. Associations or social enterprises will be able to conduct their activities both during the day and in the evening. School children could visit in the morning and learn more about cultivation, and the culture school invites you to a theater production in the evening. Or you attend a furniture renovation workshop on Saturday and buy vegetables from the local production for dinner. This is the meeting place and living room of Ljusekulla.

Housing for all stages of life

In Ljusekulla, people can live in a sustainable and healthy way from childhood through all stages of life. You can rent or buy your home, move into a townhouse with your own garden, share a household with others, or have a home that is flexible for life with children biweekly.

The goal is to create a mix of homes, which is why we have developed a unique block in Ljusekulla. In the neighborhood there are both terraced houses and slightly higher apartment buildings that frame a yard. The concept will contribute to a good community that gives you the freedom to socialize to the extent you want. The size of the block and the community should give people a sense of belonging, that increases the sense of security and trust.

As a resident, you produce your own electricity. The roofs of the houses in the neighborhood are designed to be optimal for solar cells. This means that they are slanting and turned in the directions that provide the most sun during the day.

Last updated: 6/14/2022