Urban Structure, Energy and Planning: Findings from Three Cities in Sweden, Finland and Estonia

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Urban Structure, Energy and Planning: Findings from Three Cities in Sweden, Finland and Estonia


  • Juliane Große Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Christian Fertner Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Niels Boje Groth Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Denmark


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Abstract:  Transforming energy use in cities to address the threats of climate change and resource scarcity is a major challenge in urban development. This study takes stock of the state of energy in urban policy and planning and reveals potentials of and constraints to energy-efficient urban development. The relationship between energy and urban structure provides a framework for discussing the role of urban planning to increase energy efficiency in cities by means of three in-depth case studies of medium-sized cities in Northern Europe: Eskilstuna in Sweden, Turku in Finland and Tartu in Estonia. In some ways these cities go ahead when it comes to their national climate and energy policies and aim to establish urban planning as an instrument to regulate and influence the city’s transition in a sustainable way. At the same time, the cities are constantly facing goal conflicts and limitations to their scope of action, which creates dilemmas in their strategic orientation and planning activities (e.g. regional enlargement and increased commuting vs. compact urban development). Finally, considering urban form and spatial structure along with the policy context as well as regional drivers and functional relations is suggested as a suitable approach for addressing the challenges of energy-efficient urban development.

Keywords:  climate change; energy efficiency; Northern Europe; sustainable development; urban form; urban planning

Published:   4 March 2016


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v1i1.506


© Juliane Große, Christian Fertner, Niels Boje Groth. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.