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Energy efficiency in buildings

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The Danish approach: Six ways to accelerate energy efficiency in buildings

From smart energy systems to holistic sustainability methods, the Danish approach to energy efficiency in buildings can serve as a source of inspiration for other countries.

Explore Denmark’s journey to decarbonise 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.

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Denmark has made significant strides in optimising energy efficiency in buildings over the past few decades reducing energy consumption and lowering carbon emissions. But work is still to be done, and new ambitious goals have been set to further improve and secure sustainability in the Danish build environment.

Explore six key areas that demonstrate why Denmark is well-positioned to continue to succeed in optimising energy efficiency in its buildings.

 

1. The building code as a driver for innovation

The Danish Building Code, BR18, drives innovation by regulating energy performance in major building renovations. It sets minimum standards for components like windows, ventilation systems, and roofs, ensuring continuous energy efficiency improvements in existing buildings. Owners are encouraged to save energy during renovations, and the code is regularly updated to incorporate technological advancements through industry consultation.

 

2. Creating user-friendly EPCs

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) assign buildings in Denmark an energy rating and provide cost-effective recommendations for improving efficiency and savings. Half of Denmark’s building stock has an EPC. The layout of the Energy Labelling Report was redesigned in 2021 for easier comprehension, while a new funding requirement for EPCs has significantly increased the annual number of energy labels issued. The Danish Energy Agency (DEA) is responsible for implementing and overseeing the EPC scheme, with all certificates registered in a central database accessible to the public.

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

3. Implementing smart energy systems

Smart energy renovation considers the transformation of energy systems around buildings to unlock their full potential. By adopting an integrated Smart Energy System approach, synergies between savings, energy efficiencies, and interconnections across sectors can be leveraged, utilising existing infrastructure and storage. Integrating heating, cooling, electricity, transport, and gas savings improve overall energy efficiency, allowing for the utilisation of waste heat and expanding district heating. Sector integration enables cost-effective thermal storage options and facilitates the integration of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.

 

4. Empowering and understanding needs of citizens

To empower citizens with energy efficiency information, targeted messaging is crucial, especially when building owners are seeking information during house transactions or major refurbishments. Recognising that individuals have diverse motivations for reducing energy consumption, such as monthly savings, improved comfort, or environmental concerns, allows for more precise and impactful campaigns on the platform, catering to specific needs and goals.

How to make existing Danish buildings energy-efficient:

  • Converting 400,000 gas boilers and 100,000 oil boilers to sustainable solutions such as individual heat pumps and district heating
  •  Upgrading the worst performing buildings; Around 30% of energy-labelled buildings in Denmark currently possess energy labels from E-G
  • Securing energy improvements such as energy-efficient windows and improved insulation when buildings are being renovated
  • Ensuring optimal operation and efficiency of technical systems such as heating, lighting and ventilation
  • Energy efficiency requirements for new buildings and major renovations will be continually updated to cost-optimal levels
  • Life cycle assessment in new buildings has been mandatory from the beginning of 2023

5. DK2020: Denmark’s Municipalities unite to achieve green energy

Denmark’s municipalities are working together for energy savings in order to reach the targets under the Paris Agreement. Through the DK2020, tailored climate action plans address barriers, prioritise energy efficiency
in municipal buildings, and encourage homeowners to follow. Smart climate strategies, optimised building activity, and data-driven energy management are all employed, while municipalities share knowledge to inform legislation, suppliers, and product development, facilitating effective local solutions.

 

6. A holistic approach to sustainability

A holistic approach is crucial for sustainable energy renovation, considering both environmental, economic, and social factors. The DGNB certification standard provides a benchmark for evaluating sustainability in buildings and urban areas, encompassing technical, process, and area quality criteria. With different phases and specific criteria for various building types, DGNB certification is applicable to new and existing buildings, renovations, and buildings in use, covering the entire life cycle.

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