Sustainable neighborhoods in Copenhagen

The Danish capital aims to be the world’s first carbon-neutral metropolis by 2025. Its green transition is already making the city more livable than ever before.

Cycle superhighways, a variety of parks and green spaces, waterfront promenades and harbor water so clean you can swim in it. Copenhagen is living proof that sustainable city design is very much synonymous with livability.

Danish architects and urban planners are renowned at combining sustainable solutions with esthetics and people-oriented qualities to create attractive urban spaces and works of architecture that are both beautiful and climate-friendly.

The Danish capital is already a frontrunner when it comes to sustainable urban development, and the bar for its future is also set exceptionally high: By 2025, according to the city’s visionaries, Copenhagen will become the world’s first carbon-neutral capital.

The city is collaborating with businesses, universities and institutions to achieve this -ambitious goal – and to create more jobs and a higher quality of life at the same time. Green mobility, recycling, renewable energy, climate adaptation and smart city technologies are some of the solutions that will keep Copenhagen a world leader of sustainable urban development.

Photo: COBE Architects

Krøyers Plads

Three distinctive buildings at Krøyers Plads not only comprise the world’s first Nordic Eco-labeled apartment complex but have also earned the Green Good Design Award 2017.The five-story brick buildings, with their angular, sloping roofs, are a modern take on the 300-year-old industrial warehouses in the historic Copenhagen harbor. But they’re built with a difference – recyclable materials, sedum roofs and principles to ensure a smart indoor climate and low energy consumption.Restaurants, shops and a supermarket on the ground floor help create a vibrant neighborhood, and the new public waterfront promenade in front of the buildings has quickly become a popular spot for Copenhageners to sunbathe and do some harbor diving.

Photo: TMRW

UN17 Village

The United Nations has formulated 17 Sustainable Development Goals for a better and more viable future for all of humanity. These goals were the inspiration for UN17 Village – a planned residential complex at the tip of Ørestad next to Amager Nature Park. UN17 Village seeks to translate the UN’s goals into tangible action and set new standards for sustainable urban development.This community-oriented eco-village is set to house 830 residents. Each of the five residential blocks provides ground floor community facilities such as work stations, a dining hall, a gym, a sauna and a spa as well as a shared laundry room that runs on rainwater.Recycled materials used in constructing this new community meet the gold standard of sustainability designated by the DGNB (the German Sustainable Building Council).

Photo: Copenhagen Architecture

Maersk Tower

A state-of-the-art research and teaching facility for the University of Copenhagen’s Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Maersk Tower combines Denmark’s most energy-efficient laboratories with award-winning architecture.Medical research requires a great deal of heat emitting equipment and electronics. So to cool things down, this 15-story building receives cold seawater from the harbor, and the finely perforated shutters in the distinctive facade automatically open and close throughout the day to screen out direct sunlight but permit daylight to filter through.Hidden beneath the open area in front the building is a reservoir that collects up to five million liters of rainwater and takes pressure off the city’s sewer system during intense downpours.The underground bicycle parking lot accommodates 950 bicycles and offers locker rooms, showers and bike pumps to make cycling more convenient for students and researchers.

Photo: Klimakvarter


As Copenhagen’s first climate-resilient neighborhood, Klimakvarteret sets the pace for -innovative ways to manage rainwater and prepare cities for future climate changes.Various new green spaces in Østerbro, a residential neighborhood, provide cool oases when temperatures rise. In periods of heavy rainfall, these green areas can absorb large volumes of water. Some streets have been turned into “cloudburst roads” designed to carry rainwater through and away from the neighborhood.With these surface solutions, the city can keep as much water as -possible away from the sewer system, which is already burdened by the heavier rainfall of the changed climate. At the same time, the newly-built trees, shrubs and courtyard gardens increase biodiversity and make life more attractive for the local residents.



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Nordhavn – the five-minute city

An old industrial harbor in Copenhagen is the setting for the largest urban development project in Northern Europe. The new Nordhavn – a project undertaken by CPH City & Port Development – aims to be a beacon of sustainability, both nationally and internationally. Each part of the new district is built with the environment in mind, integrating green modes of transport, renewable energy and sustainable construction. All new buildings in Nordhavn meet strict standards for sustainability, and several of the historic buildings have been preserved and transformed, resulting in distinct architectural landmarks for the new neighborhood. Nordhavn also acts as a full scale urban laboratory for future energy solutions. The public-private partnership EnergyLab Nordhavn project is testing new technologies that integrate electricity, heating, electric transport and other energy infrastructures in an intelligent energy system. The goal is to demonstrate innovative solutions to inspire cities in their green transition. Nordhavn is the only city district in Denmark to receive the DGNB system’s highest certification for sustainability – platinum.All new buildings must be DGNB certified to at least bronze level, which is a higher standard than the current building code in Copenhagen. This means, among other things, that they must be better insulated and use district cooling and heating. Some buildings will also have systems in place for collecting rainwater for flushing toilets.Thanks to the choice of materials and technology, the new buildings in Nordhavn are very efficient at retaining heat. In tests by EnergyLab Nordhavn, the utility company cut off the heating between 8am and 4pm. The temperature inside the buildings dropped by only 0.1°C. The average person covers a distance of 400m in five minutes. That is also the maximum distance between public transit, institutions and public functions in the new Nordhavn. With the “five-minute city” layout, the new subway stations, bicycle highways and bicycle parking, Nordhavn planners want to ensure that the fastest, most convenient and pleasant choice of tran-sport is an environ-mentally-friendly one. Drivers in Nordhavn are encouraged to use the shared electric cars and dedicated parking and chargers for electric vehicles. The new 150 kW quick charger station can provide future models of electric cars with a full recharge in only 8 minutes. Today, it takes 20.

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