Over 60 percent of Vaxjo's geographical area is covered with forests and forestry is one of the bigger industries along with wood production as a result Vaxjo has become a pioneer for its use of wooden bio mass. Today two thirds of the city's heating comes from this type of fuel and ten years after the the start of fossil fuel free Vaxjo, per capita carbon dioxide emissions are down by 21 percent (their goal is to reduce emissions of CO2 within the entire municipality by 50 percent per capita by 2010 comapred to 1993 levels). To help politicians look further than finances, Vaxjo started using ecoBUDGET, a model for environmental budgeting. The model is designed to show decision makers how to budget natural resources in the same way that they budget fiscal ones. Vaxjo has used ecoBUDGET for a coherent environmental management approach that supports their ambitions of becoming fossil fuel free with clear time-related targets and cyclical evaluations of performance. Additionally they are achieving their visions and targets in ecoBUDGET through construction of new residential areas according to cutting edge energy standards for both heating and cooling.
Vaxjo is the capital and administrative centre of Kronoberg County, and home to 74,000 residents and 1.2 million people living within one hours drive from Vaxjo. The surrounding forests and lakes attract many tourists there by making the total number of people who come through the region in the hundreds of thousands. The clean air and pollution reduction benefits will not only help the residents of the city but also the many tourists and visitors that come through the region.
An indirect benefit of switching to biomass for district heating has been that individuals have access to a domestic fuel sources with makes the energy system less vulnerable, in turn citizens are receiving comfortable, stable and clean heat for a low price. Additionally individuals are now benefiting from many of the initiatives meant to address the issue of transportation emissions. For example, the city has worked to make the city centre a pedestrian only zone by replaceing pedestrian crossings with car crossings; it has also set up a cycle campaign amongst municipal employees and offers a bicycle pool for employees at city hall.
In Vaxjo the greatest benefit to society has been of the political will that was needed to mobilize all of the advances the city has made in the field of clean energy. The Mayor and Vice Mayor have taken the lead and full responsibility for thie project, giving it a very high status both within the municipal administration and in society as a whole. Their contributions to the municipality have been recognized through articles, televiosn programs, and internaitonal awards. The introduction of a local, reliable and clean form of heating energy and the associated job creation and tourism revenue can be directly attribute to the political will and visioning of the local leadership.
To help ensure that all Vaxjo resident can use this new clean energy, for homes not connected to the district-heating network, municipal subsidies are offered at the household leve to convert heating systems from oil to biofuels. Within the field of solar energy, Vaxjo's municipal housing company is encouraging the use of solar power, with subsidies available to households installing solar panels.
Through the implementation of the Fossil Fuel Free Vaxjo program new jobs have been created in the biomass to energy chaing and additional economic benefits are reaped by the community as a result of the draw of environmental tourists and technical visitors to Vaxjo who are drawn by this sustainable energy system.
The environmental benefits of the Fossil Fuel Free Vaxjo system are clear. Using forest waste collected from within 100 kilmetres of the city, the new biofuel-powered combined heat and power plant has reduced fossil CO2 emissions by 20%