Denmark is home to some of the world's best green and sustainable buildings. Perhaps this won't come as a surprise to many, as Denmark is a country renowned globally for design, architecture and clean energy technologies. Green buildings are made with resource efficiency in mind, and their design, construction, and operation leave a positive impact on the environment. To be called a sustainable building, such a structure must be one that conforms with the idea of sustainability, i.e. it must be prioritise meeting the needs of today without sabotaging the opportunities of the future.
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Contrary to the beliefs of some, the concept of sustainability cannot be overstretched. It extends beyond the efficient use of water and energy to meeting the needs of the people and the planet as a whole in the long run.
Denmark, as a nation, has adopted a holistic approach to the idea. It has committed to the use of renewable energy, recycling, zero-emission, and more. Denmark is known for building the country on the foundation of sustainability and its aggressive environmental policies.
Here are some buildings that demonstrate the Danish commitment to sustainability:
1. Solrødgård Water Treatment Plant by Henning Larsen
The Solrødågrd Climate and Environment Park is a water treatment facility built by Henning Larsen for the Hillerød, a city on the island of northern Zealand. The plant, situated on a 50hectare property, functions as a multipurpose building, containing a recycling center, a water treatment plant, and a public park.
The facility is built with a green roof that functions as the urban city park, and the green roof is designed to entice people to visit the facility. According to Henning Larsen, the reason for this was to spark conversations amongst the community people on the subject of efficient resource use and management and to bring them face to face with the effect of their actions. This building is a respected sustainable building due to its efforts to fix water scarcity problems, which is a global problem affecting over two-third of the world.
2. Center for Cancer and Health by Nord Architects
Built-in 2011, this iconic structure is an architectural masterpiece that merges architecture with health and medicine. Designed by Nord Architects and built in Copenhagen, this building functions as a Center for cancer awareness and protecting patients from the stigma associated with the illness.
They were inspired by the need to create a welcoming and hospitable atmosphere conducive for healing. According to research, a comfortable environment has been shown to help with patients' recovery, yet most hospitals are not designed to be sustainable buildings. Built using local wood, the center is structured as small individual houses joined together at the roof. Walking into the building, you can find a comfortable lounge, a courtyard, outdoor gardens and exercise spaces, a communal kitchen where patients can learn healthy cooking recipes, etc. The healthcare center was designed for patients to draw from the community's strength without losing the comfort of individuality.
3. Brønshøj Parish Center by Nord Architects
In 2015, the giants of sustainable architecture, Nords Architects, won the contract to build a modern urban Parish Center, which doubles as a Community center. This parish center, belonging to Brønshøj parish in the suburbs of Copenhagen, is to act as an avenue to build connections amongst the community. The aim is to bring the city square and the church together by creating a multipurpose gathering space with a receptive ambiance wherein people can feel like a part of the community and the church.
The building qualifies as green and sustainable due to the material with which it was built. The community center was built using Cross Laminated Timber (CLT).
CLT is a natural wood building material that allows for a temperate indoor climate, leaving you with a cozy atmosphere. On the exterior, the building is covered with ash woods, giving off a warm invitation to treat its users with multicultural backgrounds.
4. Amager Bakke/Copen Hill
Amager Bakke, which goes by the popular name of Copenhill, is a masterpiece waste-to-energy power plant cum sports facility. This power plant is a non-toxic emission plant, a hiking trail, and an artificial ski slope. According to BIG, the architecture company responsible for its design, the idea is to bring a hedonistic approach to sustainable buildings, while maximizing space.
This structure incinerates about 400,000 tons of waste annually with which it produces energy enough to power 50,000 homes and heat 120,000 homes annually. The roof of the plant has been adapted into a 400-meter-long ski slope that runs all year round. Its walls were built to allow for hiking, making it the world's longest artificial climbing wall. With sustainable structures such as Copenhill, Copenhagen can genuinely achieve its zero-carbon emission goal by 2050.
5. UN City Copenhagen by 3XN
Designed by Danish architecture firm 3XN, this massive structure in Nordhavn has become a model for sustainable buildings worldwide. The building has gained global recognition by receiving the European Commission's Green Building Award for New Buildings and (LEED) Platinum-certificate.
Consisting of two campuses, the building is home to eleven(11) UN agencies, and it accommodates over 1,200 staff from more than 100 countries. It is home to the most massive non-food humanitarian warehouse in the world. Despite all these, its energy consumption doesn't exceed 50 kWh/m each year. The City has over 1400 solar panels, which reduces one-third of the electricity consumed. It also has an intelligent facade used to control indoor temperatures. You can tour the building for free as it is always open for tours on Fridays.
6. Green Lighthouse by Velux Group and Christensen & Co Architects
The Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen, is housed by Denmark's first carbon dioxide neutral building. The Green Lighthouse was the first sustainable building in Denmark and the first to get the American LEED Gold rating certificate.
The Green Lighthouse is cylindrical in the structure. It was built after the sundial and the sun's rotation around the house. Its architectural design alone can cut energy consumption by over 70%, as the design allows for maximized natural ventilation and light.
The sun is the primary source of energy for the Green Lighthouse, and its inclined roof allows for light penetration into the building's interior. The building is also fitted with adjustable Venetian blinds that can block out direct sunrays without obstructing the flow of light. Thus, creating a cooling effect on the structure, combined with natural ventilation, gives the building a comfortable CO2 free indoor climate.
There are many other sustainable buildings in Denmark. However, the ones mentioned in this blog show that sustainable buildings go beyond stuffing a house with hi-tech gadgets. It could be as simple as using building materials that maximize resource use and meet environmental needs while being cost-effective and profitable.