Think Globally, Act Locally

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Think Globally, Act Locally

Copenhagen: think globally and act locally. Under this premise Denmark is leading initiatives in sustainability in Europe in search of a more sustainable life.

There are a lot of examples that position Copenhagen as one of the pioneer cities on environmental issues. One of the first projects carried out was the bicycle traffic management. Over time, cycle routes have been created and, today, the bicycle is an important hallmark of Danish citizens (55% of them use this means of transport to go to work or school).

But, besides being pioneer in alternative mobility, Copenhagen is also working to reduce the energy consumption and improve the habitat. In this way, the Danish government, in collaboration with Germany and Sweden, has developed the first network of offshore electricity: Kriegers Flak, located in the Baltic Sea. It is a wind farm of 600 MW which may transmit renewable energy through electrical networks to the three countries. Kriegers Flak will begin to be operational between 2018 and 2020 and allow doubling the supply capacity of wind power in Denmark. Also, it will also provide domestic electricity to more than 500.000 households in the three countries.

Another key point in the development of a sustainable city is the heat source. Copenhagen, a city in which cold is usual and there are rainfalls 168 days a year (according to data from Danish Meteorological Institute), has wanted to bet on an efficient urban heating system. About 75% of urban heating is produced in power plants that generate heat and electricity, and 40% of it, is generated without CO2 emissions to the atmosphere due to the use of biofuels.

But that is not all. The most surprising thing is that, since last August, this Nordic country has bound to have some kind of vegetation on the roofs of the new buildings. It is the second city in the world that implements a legislation of this type: the first was Toronto, Canada, where they implemented a similar law which has generated 1.2 million green square metres, and an annual energy savings of 1.5 million kWh for the owners of these buildings.

The benefits of the green roofs are remarkable; they absorb more than 80% of the rain, reduce the urban temperatures and protect the buildings from sudden temperature changes, among other things.

Currently, Copenhagen has approximately 20.000 square metres in which it is possible to implement this idea, and it is expected that the new law will increase this figure to 5.000 square metres per year.

It seems that all the efforts to carry out a transition to a green economy in which the main objective is to become the first city with carbon neutral emissions in 2025, is paying off: the city has held since last January the title of European Capital Green 2014 and has been named by the magazine Monocle as the most habitable city in the world.

By Claudia E. Fornos Monz—n