Skip to content


Energy efficiency in buildings


Circular building design


Denmarks journey to decarbonise its buildings through energy efficiency

Denmark is leading the way in combining functionality with recreational value and sustainability in buildings. Get a introduction to the ambitions, policies and initiatives, that helps drive energy-efficiency in buildings forward in Denmark.

Explore Denmark’s journey to decarbonise and energy optimise its buildings

The following article is a section from a State of Green in-flight magazine. Download the magazine for free, to find more inspiration and solutions to accelerate energy efficiency in buildings.

Discover the inflight magazine

What is Denmark aiming for?

By law, Denmark is committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.

As the construction sector and use of existing buildings represent around 40 percent of Danish energy usage a significant restructuring of the building industry is necessary to meet this goal.

In comparison, numbers from IEA show that operation of buildings accounted for 30 percent of global final energy consumption in 2021. As such, realising energy savings by prioritising energy efficiency in new construction and renovation of existing buildings is at the hear of Danish energy policies. To meet national climate goal, a public-private partnership has been established in Denmark with representation from 14 sectors of the Danish business community. The Danish construction sector has proposed 63 recommendations to cut its emissions to meet the national climate goal by 2030. Implementing these proposals could result in an annual reduction of 5,800,000 tonnes net reduction in CO2e emissions per year by 2030.

While these are significant improvements, national goals are not enough. Denmark only accounts for 0.1 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, Denmark proactively looks outside its national borders with a goal to contribute to the global green transition, leading by example through developing and demonstrating replicable and scalable ways to protect the planet while maintaining a prosperous, socially cohesive and just society. One such thing is through energy-efficient building solutions.

Energy consumption for space heating 1990-2020

Denmark witnessed a significant reduction in energy consumption for space heating per m2 in households from the 1990s to the 2020s, thanks to improved insulation, the replacement of oil burners with efficient natural gas boilers and district heating systems, and stricter energy standards for new homes.

Where do we come from?
Denmark has a long history of promoting energy efficiency in buildings through the implementation of public policies and regulations. Denmark was one of the most affected countries in the world when the oil crisis hit back in the early 1970s. With financial and security implications happening overnight, the crisis fostered government-led efforts to reduce energy consumption in buildings, by development of new building regulations, requiring buildings to have better insulation and heating systems.

In the 1980s, Denmark established an ambitious national energy plan with the goal of reducing the country’s energy consumption even further. The plan included a specific focus on accelerating energy efficiency in buildings. Reaching the 1990s, the Danish Government implemented a range of policies to promote energy-efficient buildings, including tax incentives for energy-efficient renovation and the establishment of a national energy labelling system for buildings.

The effort of promoting energy savings in buildings continued through the 2000s and the 2010s with policies and initiatives such as introducing the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), implementing a Energy Saving Obligation, as well as updating its building codes and standards.

Sound of Green: Designing for sustainability in buildings

Want to learn more about energy efficiency in the Danish building stock? Listen to the latest episode of the Sound of Green podcast: “Designing for sustainability in buildings”.

Listen to Sound of Green

Where is Denmark today?
Today, Denmark has one of the most comprehensive regulatory frameworks for ensuring energy efficiency in buildings. Among its key components are a strict building code, energy labelling, targeted information campaigns and, crucially, involvement of relevant industries. Eyeing the potential of public-private partnerships, Denmark has presented a unique way to harness the strength of both public and private resources to support energy-efficient buildings.

Standing on the shoulders of a 50-year-old legacy, Danish companies provide world-class solutions and technologies for insulation, windows, data control systems and architecture that make sustainable energy renovation projects possible. These innovative solutions, developed by both the public and private sector, have made Denmark a frontrunner in the field.

But although Denmark has learned from the 1970s crisis, the country, along with Europe and other regions of the world, is currently confronted with a new energy crisis. The current geopolitical situation has resulted in high energy prices, which in combination with low energy performance in buildings is pushing energy poverty all around the world.

Improving energy efficiency and performance of household buildings can very much act as the secret weapon to effectively combat the consequences of energy poverty while accelerating a just, green transition along the way.

Why Energy Efficiency?

Energy efficiency in buildings is crucial for multiple reasons, including enhancing security, health, sustainability and economic prosperity:

  • Improving energy supply security by reducing dependence on foreign energy sources, making space for renewable energy
  • Reducing energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions, leading to a cleaner and more sustainable environment
  • Providing health benefits by offering better indoor climate
  • Offering significant economic benefits by lowering energy bills and operating costs, thereby contributing to the fight against energy poverty
  • Promoting job creation in the construction and energy sectors

What did we learn along the way?
Renovating and retrofitting existing buildings are impactful paths to increased sustainability – not only in an environmental sense but also economically and socially.

While renovating a building can result in lower CO2 emissions, it can also lower heating and electricity costs as well as increase the value and lifespan of the building.

The business case for energy renovation becomes even stronger when considering benefits of an improved indoor climate and functionality can have for residents. Taking a broader view, pursuing energy renovation programmes can play a critical role in pushing our common energy systems towards a low-carbon future by reducing energy demand.

Denmark aims to lead the way in energy efficiency and renewable energy, demonstrating innovative solutions to increase energy efficiency and implementing district heating systems. These examples can act as inspiration for other countries to follow.

You should consider reading

Circular building design
Circular building materials
Circular business models
Circular construction
Climate change adaptation
Climate partnerships
District cooling
District energy
District heating
Energy efficiency
Energy efficiency in buildings
Green buildings
Heat pumps
Indoor air quality
Job creation and just transition
Urban air pollution
Urban infrastructure planning
Urban mobility
Urban planning and development


Green Shipping


New publication explores Denmark’s push to decarbonise global shipping

5 December 2023
As climate and energy leaders gather at COP28, a newly launched publication highlights Denmark’s commitment to accelerating the global transition towards climate-neutral shipping.