ICLEI European Secretariat

ICLEI European Secretariat



Member in the Spotlight

Reykjavik, Iceland

The City of Reykjavik is the largest city in Iceland, as well as being the capital of the country. Reykjavik is by far the largest community in Iceland, including the neighbouring towns, the capital area has a total population of about 170,000, which is about 60 percent of Iceland’s population of 300,000 people.

Iceland is famous for its volcanoes and, by combining volcanic activity with an adept use of water ways, Reykjavík is home to the largest geothermal heating system in the world. The system provides citizens with electricity and energy around the clock.

Sustainablity focus: Climate protection and air quality

Reykjavík is very ambitious when it comes to protecting its air quality. Pollution levels for PM10, ozone and NO2 are far below the limit values, but to improve air quality even further, an elaborate Air Quality Action plan was approved in March 2009.

The Air Quality plan provides short-term measures, forecasts, a warning system and mitigation measures to be taken in case of exceedance. Together with this, a number of additional, important plans and campaigns have been introduced to reduce emissions from transport. These include reduced use of studded tyres, the introduction of cleaner cars and buses running on methane and electricity, and the promotion of public transport, walking and cycling. These plans also affect greenhouse gas emissions.

Reykjavik aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the city by 35 percent by 2020, with 2007 as a reference point. Within the policy´s strategy six keys fields are set forth regarding climate issues: Carbon sequestration, transportation, waste management, environmentally sound operations, industry and agriculture.

For more information, check Reykjavik's Sustainable Energy Action Plan.

Reykjavik also has an excellent reputation for sustainable procurement, with the city’s green cleaning programme an outstanding example of its many initiatives. Its results have been impressive, with the city's cleaning costs cut in half and the cleaning service providers to green their cleaning techniques. The market share for ecolabelled cleaning services in Iceland has also increased substantially, with the use of detergant reduced by 65 percent.

Fast facts:
  • All electric power and space heating in Reykjavik is derived from renewable energy sources: geothermal and hydropower
  • The geothermal heat is also used for outdoor swimming pools, which are located in most of the city´s districts
  • 92 percent of inihbitants live within 300 meters or 5 minutes walking distance of public green urban areas
  • The City of Reykjavik focuses on education and operates the Reykjavik Municipal Work School in the summer and the Reykjavik Nature School in the winter



Jon Gnarr, Mayor of Reykjavik"All the electricity used in Reykjavik is produced by geothermal and hydro power energy. Every household, institution and commercial building is connected to a district geothermal heating system. We have built up the largest district heating system in the world and disseminated our knowledge on building and operating such systems around the world. If the City of Reykjavík had not taken the important step to heat all houses in the city with green energy in a sustainable manner – and remained committed to its decision – our task when it comes to cutting down greenhouse gas emissions would have been much more difficult today.”

Jón Gnarr,
Mayor, City of Reykjavik


ICLEI and Reykjavik:
Reykjavik has been an ICLEI member since 2002. ICLEI worked closely with the city in 2009 when Reykjavik hosted the EcoProcura conference. More than 200 delegates from 41 countries attended what was the seventh EcoProcura conference. Reykjavik is a also a member of the Procura+ Campaign.

www.reykjavik.is/ [In Icelandic] and www.reykjavik.is/en [In English]