Looking at the bigger picture

Project Director Värtahamnen - Per Ling-Vannerus

LED lighting, prefabricated construction units and surprisingly little noise pollution. Project Manager Per Ling-Vannerus takes us on an environmental tour around Värtahamnen and at the same time fixes his gaze on the bigger picture.

“If we can influence others to switch to more sustainable solutions then we will really have made a difference,” he says.

When it comes to the development project at Värtahamnen the age old standard solutions are conspicuous by their absence. Out on the new pier the hyper-modern LED 24-metre high-mast lighting rigs beam their intense but low energy consuming radiance down to illuminate the grey autumn morning.

When project manager Per Ling-Vannerus walks towards quay-berth three it isn’t asphalt that his black safety footwear treads over. The new surface of the port esplanade is instead made of concrete blocks that are much more durable and also significantly more environmentally friendly than asphalt, as no oil is required for their construction. On the way out to the quay-berth he also steps over the drainage for the new surface runoff water processing facility that is located beneath the concrete deck.

On shore connection for all vessels

Once he arrives at the quay-berth he stops at yet another of the new port’s environmental trump cards, a grey electricity substation. At each of the quay-berths the vessels can connect to the electricity grid at the port and so save fuel that would otherwise be used to generate electrical power for the vessel while it is at the quayside.

“If the vessel turns off its engines there is also significantly less noise pollution, which is an important factor when you consider how many people will live here in the future,” says Per Ling-Vannerus as he looks over his shoulder towards the area where the new Stockholm Royal Seaport city district is emerging.

The background underlying the development of the Port of Värtahamnen is the City of Stockholm’s great need for new land. The Stockholm Royal Seaport will include 12,000 apartments and 35,000 workplaces. To make room for this Värtahamnen has been moved further out into the water and large areas of the old port have been taken over by the City of Stockholm.

The Stockholm Royal Seaport city district and the port will be adjacent to each other and will grow together in certain areas. The future Valparaíso business and shopping area will be seamlessly integrated with the new passenger terminal for the port, where a café and restaurant will be open to passengers and the general public.

Prominent environmental profile

The development of Värtahamnen is without doubt the largest project ever undertaken by Ports of Stockholm and from the outset had a prominent environmental profile. Per Ling-Vannerus explains how the strong environmental traditions of Ports of Stockholm have dovetailed with the ambitions of the City of Stockholm to make the Stockholm Royal Seaport a sustainable city district.

“We have worked hard to select both the construction methods and the materials with the least environmental impact and the most innovative solutions for the long-term operation of the port. The societal benefit is that port operations will be less of a burden on the environment. In addition, the new Värtahamnen gives clear added value to Stockholm, providing both sustainable transport solutions and job opportunities,” says Per Ling-Vannerus.

Instead of using a traditional backfill, the pier is built on a concrete deck that is supported on pilings. The construction does not alter the water current conditions and therefore does not alter the environment. The new port has a technical longevity of 120 years – a long-term investment.

The majority of all of the construction materials have been transported prefabricated by sea, all the way to the port. The steel pipes for the piling construction arrived in up to 50-metre long sections and the components of the concrete deck arrived in 840 large prefabricated concrete units, which made the construction process easier, quieter and gentler on the local environment.

The port is already operating

Per Ling-Vannerus was hired as the manager for the project at the end of 2008. On 20 October he was able to tick the box marking the biggest event to date in the course of the project, when the first vessel carrying passengers called at the new port.

“It was fantastic to watch the M/S Symphony arrive at the quay, the passenger walkways fill with people and cars drive down the new ramps. We have worked very intensively to complete all of the functions at the port and get to this stage,” explains Per Ling-Vannerus.

When he reflects on the project he is happy to say that things have mostly gone according to plan.

“The list of risks was long when we started. In terms of the environment I was most worried about the noise aspects. But to date we have overcome all of the challenges in our path and it is very satisfying to be able to walk around the area and see the tangible results of all of the decisions we have made along the way,” says Per Ling-Vannerus.

The terminal will be eco-certified

In conjunction with the first vessel call the entire project shifted focus from the outer to the inner parts of the port. Parts of the harbour basin will be filled in and the new terminal building will be ready for inauguration towards the end of summer 2016. Ports of Stockholm’s goal is that the passenger terminal will receive green building gold level certification, which is the highest rating possible. The passenger terminal is designed to use approximately 40 percent less energy compared to the standard requirements of the Swedish National Board of Housing, Building and Planning construction regulations.

“Much of our thinking concerning sustainability at the terminal is about using as little energy as possible, which is a challenge in a building that is predominantly made of glass. But thanks to smart solutions, such as geothermal heating and cooling, use of photovoltaic systems and well-designed sun screens we are able to keep within the limits demanded to achieve the highest environmental rating,” says Per Ling-Vannerus.

Although the finishing line for the Värtahamnen development project is approaching and at the end of next year everything will be complete, some of the work concerning the integration with the surrounding area will still continue. One tangible example is the electricity connection at the new quay-berths. None of the vessels that use the port currently have the technical capabilities to connect to the facilities.

“We are in dialogue with the shipping companies and I believe and hope that they see the benefits of the electricity connection. But we can’t force them to make the vessels compatible with the system. On the other hand, we can offer an incentive by offering financial grants to convert the vessels,” explains Per Ling-Vannerus

Environmental efforts are integral to everything

The project management has devoted much of the day-to-day resources to supporting and following up the practical environmental efforts of the sub-contractors. When the project was at its height there were five environmental coordinators working on the Värta project. They took part in environmental inspection rounds, carried out audits, collected samples, compiled statistics and prepared reports about the achieving of environmental targets and more.

Real change is difficult to achieve alone and Per Ling-Vannerus is hopeful that the prominent environmental profile of the Värta project will inspire others.

“At best we can give momentum to drive the shipping companies and other ports around the Baltic Sea forwards in their environmental efforts.  If it was only us who worked aggressively with sustainability the changes would be marginal, but if we succeed in influencing others then we will have made a real difference,” states Per Ling-Vannerus.


The new port will have five quay-berths, with the longest reaching 265 metres. The new land surface area will have 1,200 metres of new quay extending along it. The pier will be extended by a 65,000 square-metre pile-supported deck and 20,000 square-metres of backfilled surface area. The new surface areas and the current pier will be where the Ports of Stockholm operations at Värtahamnen will be focussed in the future. When rebuilding work is completed, Värtahamnen will comprise 131,000 square-metres, which is the same amount of area that the old port covered.

Passenger terminal

The Värta terminal building will be 16,000 m2 and will be four floors high. Construction will start in autumn 2014 and will continue until 2016. There will be 650 metres of passenger walkway extending directly from the terminal to three of the quay-berths. The terminal will include a café, a restaurant and garden roof terraces that will be open to the public. From the upper terrace there will be an unbeatable view over the harbour entrance.

Gold level green building

The Värta terminal will be environmentally certified as a gold level green building, according to a certification system based on Swedish construction and government regulations and construction practices. Green building certification is an acknowledgement of the important qualities of a building in terms of energy, internal environment and materials.