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Urban Planning and Design: Urban Issues in Sustainability of Oslo

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Environmental Studies
Wordcount: 2936 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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The Sustainable City of Oslo, Norway




This paper will examine and reflect the environmental design of Oslo, Norway. We will identify key concepts and roles within the planning and design of the city, with emphasis on their city set up. These will include, but are not limited to, the solutions and challenges of their past, present and future developmental conditions defined by Oslo’s social dynamic, environmental quality, transportations conditions, and energy sources. This report will provide detailed information on the cities sustainable background while coinciding with the key concepts formerly stated. The findings should offer a valuable insight for the reader and those interested in the investigation


With the twentieth century came great innovations and strides. Amazing innovations such as the Internet and the iPhone came along that revolutionized today’s world. But with this century also comes grave danger to the planet you and I call home. Environmental, social and economic calamities, on a worldwide scale have significantly affected our ecosystems, economies, societies and habitats. As a matter if fact much of the destruction and damage we’ve seen has occurred in the last two decades. We’ve seen a spike in the earths average temperature (seen is Figure 1) along with a pollution rate that has tore a major hole in out ozone layer, only speeding the end of it all, up.

Figure 1: Temperatures from NASA

As we continue on this path of destruction our communities and cities are at major risk of losing what we so lovingly cherish. But as we see this devastating path continue some cities are on a mission to reverse there effects on climate change. Many cities are aiming to not be contributors to the damage to our climate, making goals to reach a level of sustainability that the world has not yet seen. One city in particular, a city of great innovation has made their disaster planning to battle and combat the grave dangers of climate change. This city is Oslo, Norway. Located on Norway’s southern coast at the head of the Oslo Fjord, the capital city of tomorrow has a total area of 454 square kilometers. Of those 454 square kilometers, 242 square kilometers is made up of forest area and eight square kilometers are parks and recreational areas. (This can be seen is Figure 2) In 2012 the population of Oslo was recorded at 613,000 people a very small fraction of New Yorks 8.5 million people. Just off the coast of Oslo there are also 40 islands making it a diverse and unique place for travel. A great feature that many love about the city is that is made up of more than half of forests and parks, which makes Oslo a prime area and green city. But with similarity to New York, Oslo is also the economic and center of Norway, making it an important place industries and a prime trade location to Europe. The city of Oslo was named the capital of Norway in 1814, after Norway was granted its independence. One thing many are not a fan of is how cold the climate can be there in Oslo, but they have taken advantage of the cold and have become quite the attraction to skiers and snowboarders. Although the scale of Oslo, Norway might not be great what is great is how much knowledge and precedent the city can offer in the realm of sustainability. With efforts to be climate-neutral by 2030 Oslo has taken initiative by setting the bar of what should be required of every city when embarking on this
type of green ecological development.

Figure 2: Oslo, Norway Green Map


Oslo, Norway is what many scientists, including Newman who wrote “Resilient Cities” and researches would call a resilient city. A resilient city must have goals that include elements such as renewable energy where they invest is different options such as solar power, hydropower, and wind power. Elements of being carbon neutral where the city aims to reduce energy use, using its renewable resources and offsetting CO2 pollutants. Another element is being distributed, which means having a small-scale system for individual homes to save and reuse resources. Additionally resilient elements include being eco-efficient which in terms incorporate reusing energy and materials, even your trash. Another element is being “place based” which is accomplished by creating a unique and inviting sense of place. Finally a key element of resilient cities is having sustainable transport such as cycling and walking paths that connect the city. When Oslo, Norway decided to embark on their development of being a green city they systematically thought through each variable and concentrated on the way their system’s essential parts correlate and how their systems work over time, within the context of their system as a whole. What this means is that they didn’t assume that one single approach would suffice and bring them to their 2030 goal of being a clean city. They truly analyzed each approach to making there city a better one, including elements of politics, taking influence from there culture, deriving the advantages of there geographical location and what it truly means to reflect clean city of the future.


Oslo is a city that appreciates the coming together of a community to grant each person a better well being. The people of Oslo appreciate the little things in their community that make them, well Oslo. They enjoy the arts, as they city is filled with exhibitions, art galleries, and cinemas that represent the present-day artists and their works. The arts in the capital city also has a diverse range of of live music and festivals such as the Oslo Jazz Festival, and International Church Music Festival, and a general Chamber Music Festival where sometimes it seems the party never ends, and with the exuberant amount of activities offered it might not ever have to. The city of Oslo is one of great love and that can be seen all though there festivities and events. The city of Oslo not only has a great community base and effort but also a pristine economy to thank for where they are as a city now. Since there geographical location of the harbors have allowed for a water shipping and transportation boom Oslo has come to have a diverse economy with one of the best regional GDPs in all of Europe. Right behind Amsterdam, one of the most sustainable cities in the world, Oslo is 2nd in the category of business friendliness and holds a GDP per capita that is €49,465, about twice the GDP of any other country in the EU. 

And according to ATLAS they are number one is GDP growth from 2000 to 2013, as you can see in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Oslo GDP Growth

To put in a little perspective OSLO.com goes to say “around 6 million tons of cargo is transported to and from Oslo, and over five million passengers make use of the port each year. More than two million guests arrive in Oslo, and Oslo city is rapidly becoming one of the top tourist destinations in Europe”. With great visiting locations the demographics of Oslo include a population that is 70% ethnically Norwegian, based on the last the census. This means that about 30% of the entire population is immigrant based.


Sustainable Development is one of the key elements that Oslo focuses on. As they aim to increase their urban density, which has been highly regarded as one of the main approaches to achieve a sustainable and urban way of living, their end goal aims to be carbon neutral by 2030. Oslo has actually made it a city wide mandate to having housing units that produce energy, putting them in the positive spectrum. This compact city has become the example of the sustainable urban places mainly because of its role to being a environmentally friendly and the effort they have put towards decreasing there overall carbon footprint. When they established the mandate that required all new metropolis-built buildings to not only be zero-emission, but to also be “energy-plus,” which means they generate energy and not just consume it. This is a prime way to become a resilient city as it prompts true green growth. According to a past census, the capitol city of Norway welcomes in about 10,000 new residencies a year. This means that Oslo is bringing in an abundance of ecofriendly developers and architects that are willing and able to take on and carry out the methods and procedures of growing a city in a sustainable manor. Thought the city is for building up, they have made it clear that they will go and grow forward with great caution. When you have a city that is growing at a fast rate there are certain risks to be taken into account. The first being the decrease of human well-being, when you crowd and group a bunch of people into a rather small area tempers can tend to rise due to the nature of being overwhelmed with no personal space. Another grave danger is the risk of clearing and destroying current green spaces you have for urban development. Cities have that were once green and free are now locked and sored in with concrete everywhere you look. Finally the last risk they have taken into account is the idea of economic production. If the city grows to quickly without the mean of producing for the population, the sustainability factor will begin to decrease.

Because they are pursuing the title of being a dense and sustainable urban location they must embark on way to get from one place to another in an efficient and timely matter. With this being such a great factor to a sustainable city they have made transportation a major focus. Transportation is another great element and factor that Oslo does extremely right. Like it’s sustainable neighbor Amsterdam, the city is extremely pedestrian friendly. When you make the transition from catering from automobiles to bikes and walking, cities take a monumental step in reducing their overall carbon footprint. The government has gone as far as giving tax breaks and money to those that go out and purchase bikes to use as there main form of transportation. According to a video study done by Oslo University, it is not unlikely for you to see a family commuting all on bikes. GBD Magazine is quotes saying that “Oslo even offers incentives like tax credits, access to public transport lanes, and waived tolls to anyone driving electric cars, plus credits for electric transport bicycles” with such clean and efficient ways to get from point A to point B, when you design around such terms you begin to see the importance of having a strong political support and developing strong incentives to help push cities towards a greener more efficient horizon. In Figure 4 we are able to see the true and realistic capacity that a car with one person can truly take up and why Oslo has geared towards such a drastic and organized
transportation system

Figure 4: Transportation Space

This can even go one step further and pay tribute to the friendly atmosphere that Oslo offers, we all know that the traffic here in College Station can often effect ones mood and take a toll on the way the rest of there day could potentially carry out. Along with developing a walkable city Oslo is also developing a public transportation system that has access all through out the city. But the main and key part of this system is the cut on green house gasses it has. Typically a city bus gets about 3.64 miles per gallon (according the federal highway administration) but with Oslos new method the transits do not even use gas. Oslo has developed a method to use every little bit of there trash, even the parts that aren’t recyclable. Through a thorough system that separates the reusable pieces and actual waste Oslo burns what cannot be recycled into a form of energy that can be harnessed to run the transit busses. This is a major role in reducing their overall carbon footprint since the burning of gas and oil are two big contributors to climate change in today’s society.

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As Oslo continues to stride forward with new and improved ways of reaching their goal in 2030 they have become quite intuitive. The Oslo Climate and Energy Fund is a city wide development design to increase energy savings and accelerate the transitions from current fossil fuels to more efficient and renewable energy sources. Systems like the bus transit and walkable cities schemes have been developed from this fund but also the worlds most advance and intelligent system of street lighting. Compared to the average street light here in the United States the street lights in Oslo us 70% less energy than typical lights. Each lamp is individually controlled, almost as if they each have there own brain. Along with this technique Oslo has also derived 80% of their heating system from renewable resources, which mainly comes from the biomass of residual waste. All in all this saves, what is equivalent to sixty thousands vehicles in carbon emissions. To put into perspective just how much of an advance they are making, four tons of waste is the same energy content as one ton of gas and oil. What Oslo has accomplished is only learned from past mistakes. As we continue forward into the greatness of sustainability we can expect to have examples to work from. 

Being one of the fastest growing cities in Norway, issues of energy consumption are a major risk and they have handled it quite well. Norway’s capital has made construction planning a part of its key approach in its city planning scheme. And this is a factor as to why Oslo is so successful. When they plan out their city the boards make it their number one goal to reduce the total amount of energy they use and to do it the cleanest possible way. They way the city approaches the development is with a stern fist. They have developed laws that contribute to the protection of each green space, taking forest lands as precedent. The city government and policies understand that the green spaces they have and hold in high regard are major assets to their economy. If you do a quick search in regards to what one should do when visiting Oslo, or Norway in general, you will see countless results about the green spaces in Oslo. From the great Fjords, to the thousands of lakes and countless number of hiking trails your everyday nature fanatic and general person have the opportunity to experience nature like they have never before. Oslo understands this and holds it close. Being the resilient city they are, they understand the benefits from maintaining and saving these luscious urban areas they have. But what is truly great, and where many cities fail, is how the community comes together in order for these strides to be made into reality. The people of Oslo have taken the initiative to live as sustainable as possible. Making sustainable efforts and continuing to live a life that minimizes their carbon footprint, is something each residence contributes towards.

At the deigning of 2019 Oslo, Norway was named the “European Green Capital”. This is a title that has been rightfully earned and carried out. Oslo has done many things right, from making relief efforts for saving there environments, to developing major and city altering transportation systems, gearing towards and investing in renewable energy sources (while creating energy surplus’s) and overall truly prioritizing biodiversity. Along side being a resilient city, Oslo, Norway has become a regenerative city in reducing the energy consumption by 30% since 1990. With the path they are Oslo has the potential to be the city that others look to for solutions, a city that is made for the future of our world as well as the next generations.


  • 2019: A Green Year for Oslo. (2019, January 07). Retrieved from https://www.lifeinnorway.net/green-oslo/
  • Bibliography. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://sustainablecity-oslo-samansayip.weebly.com/bibliography.html
  • EERE: Alternative Fuels Data Center Home Page. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://afdc.energy.gov/
  • Newman, P., Beatley, T., & Boyer, H., 2009, Resilient cities: Responding to peak oil and climate change. Washington, DC: Island Press
  • Oslo Population 2019. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://worldpopulationreview.com/world-cities/oslo-population/
  • Oslo Travel guide, Oslo Tours, Hotel deals – Oslo, Norway. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.oslo.com/
  • Royalty-Free Stock Images And Stock Photography By Dreamstime. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.dreamstime.com/
  • World of Change: Global Temperatures. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/world-of-change/DecadalTemp


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