Copenhagen: when ecology takes over the city

The Danish capital is committed to sustainability and boasts extensive green spaces, efficient public transportation and a robust cycling culture

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By Manu

copenhagen ecology

The capital of Denmark has set ambitious targets regarding ecology and sustainable development. In the last ten years, it has already reduced its CO2 emissions by nearly 25%, and it has not stopped its noble pursuit, yet! A popular neighbourhood that was slowly tumbling down due to effect of pollution, has been completely restored. This is a prime example of environment friendly city planning.

Built in the late 19th century to welcome immigrants and students, this area of the capital was getting gradually abandoned. At the end of the 20th century, most homes were becoming unhealthy (lack of sanitation, heating …). It is in this context that the city of Copenhagen took the decision to regenerate Vesterbro and this area and turn it into a green ecological one.

Green spaces with shared amenities (benches, tables, barbecues …), waste management by non-profit organization, widespread use of solar energy, lower energy consumption, improved water management and incentives for green transport, are all measures put in place during the redevelopment of this area.

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All buildings in the Vesterbro district are of a specific make called Hedebygade. They are an example of the success of the rehabilitation. When redevelopment started around 2000, only the old outer walls have been preserved and everything has been redesigned following principles of good ecology with high standards. The insulation of walls and partitions has been a major pull towards reducing energy consumption. Glass walls and photovoltaic panels were installed outdoors.

The other major challenge was to reduce water consumption, and therefore all apartments have been equipped with gearboxes and other measures that have led to a 20% decline in water consumption!

A city park in Copenhagen
A city park in Copenhagen.

In addition, all the apartments have been equipped with eco friendly measures, such as purification of air by plants,  kitchens with pots to grow vegetables, laundry and communal spaces with evergreen plants and meeting rooms. The whole locality has shown its enthusiasm by supporting eco-friendly cafes and small shops as well as  the population, who has been actively involved in all these projects.

Only downside of this beautiful example of urban ecology is the cost of rehabilitation. Largely absorbed by the City of Copenhagen and the Ministry of Housing, these costs have partly reflected on the rents: their higher rents indeed scare the poorest inhabitants off.

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