Here, residents can choose recycled materials for their future homes

Future residents of the new building and cohousing community Sjællandsk Muld have the option to choose recycled materials and offcuts for the construction of their homes. More power to residents means more sustainable choices, the theory goes.

Photo: Almenr
The Badu family is one of a total of 35 families who have the opportunity to choose their own recycled materials for their new home in the Sjællandsk Muld cohousing community.

In Hvalsø in Lejre Municipality, the new building and cohousing community of Sjællandsk Muld is under construction, with the private homes ready for occupancy by the end of 2024.

As a special concept, recycled materials can be included in the construction, giving the 35 households the opportunity to have their say on which materials they want in their future home. These include floorboards made of offcuts, kitchen elements made of recycled material or offcuts and recycled Troldtekt acoustic panels.

Almenr is the cohousing developer behind Sjællandsk Muld in partnership with construction company Enemærke & Petersen and GENBYG. The latter acts as a material bank that accepts both leftover and waste materials as well as recycled materials from demolitions. EFFEKT Arkitekter designed the homes.


Putting residents in control

Almenr has a platform with 15,000 members that brings together people who want to live in a community – regardless of whether the common denominator is rural or urban and with a focus on such elements as business, animal husbandry or cultivation, for example.

" Instead of building based on market conditions, where only the resale value counts and materials are chosen based on the lowest common denominator, we've chosen to do something different. The residents make the decisions and typically take a long-term view, as they will probably be living there for 20 years. So most of them will choose good quality materials that will also remain beautiful for many years to come, as well as providing a healthy indoor climate," says Lars Lundbye, partner and co-founder of Almenr.

" Giving future residents the ability to have a say in the materials used in their homes is the first step towards a more circular construction industry. For us, it’s an exciting path to take. They are also a grateful user group, as they are very environmentally conscious," says Anders Sørensen, Sustainability Manager at Enemærke & Petersen.

Fewer climate-impacting choices in cohousing communities

Almenr tries to recreate old traditions for how construction was done 50-100 years ago in building associations and communities with local financing and residents as developers.

" We've recreated this in a professional framework where we want to remove the complexity for residents and work with a partnership structure. This way, both the end user and supplier are in the same boat in terms of making the project a success," explains Lars Lundbye, adding:

" When you give power back to the community, more sustainable choices automatically emerge. For example, research shows that cohousing communities have a 30 per cent lower carbon footprint and 60 per cent less food waste. Simply because the residents coordinate with each other on things like communal dining and shared transport."

When asked why Enemærke & Petersen got involved in a project like Sjællandsk Muld, Anders Sørensen says:

" We want to push the sustainability agenda, but start with solutions that are manageable. It’s kind of in our DNA that we want to facilitate development. We get examples of construction projects that challenge convention, and I love that. In this way, we demystify the complexity of new sustainability initiatives, for example. It’s the power of example."

Photo: Almenr
Lars Lundbye in front of Fridlev, another Almenr building and cohousing community located in Hvalsø.

Recycled materials in the homes

Incorporating recycled materials into a building in this way is the first project of its kind. And recycling was part of the plan for Sjællandsk Muld from the beginning. There were two challenges that residents had to accept: the materials are not covered by a warranty and they come in varying quantities. So not everyone would be able to have the same materials.

GENBYG has developed an opt-in system for the possible recycled materials on a first-come, first-served basis. All the materials have been selected on the basis of proven high quality, ease of maintenance and repair.

Examples include Junckers beech flooring, Stykka kitchens made from plywood offcuts and Troldtekt acoustic panels.

" In general, we need to move away from materials that have a short service life and cannot be repaired. These are important principles that we as contractors can build on," says Anders Sørensen.

In the process, workshops have been held with the residents, Almenr, GENBYG and Enemærke & Petersen. Among other things, residents decided that using recycled materials in invisible installations in the wall is not a good idea, but that there is no major risk associated with larger surfaces in the home, as long as the materials are solid.

" It’s a more holistic approach. This flexibility is difficult in industrial construction, but on our scale it's manageable," says Lars Lundbye.

About Sjællandsk Muld

  • The building and cohousing community Sjællandsk Muld is located in Hvalsø in Lejre Municipality
  • It wants to create a vibrant housing community that combines modern living with ambitious, innovative solutions.
  • From the end of 2024, 35 new private homes will be ready for occupancy, along with a community centre. Residents have been involved in choosing recycled building materials for their future homes.