Copenhagen is European Green Capital 2014. It is fitting, then, that Nordhavn, or North Harbor, an urban area in Copenhagen, has been awarded the highest certification in sustainability under a certification system, DGNB.

Nordhavn  Copenhagen  artists impressionThe district and port participated in the Danish Green Building Council's Award pilot project for the certification of urban development areas.

The area covers 300 ha and has a dense urban structure but is close to the water. It includes a metro to the North Harbor.

There is a growing recognition of the importance of measuring the efficacy of sustainable projects. The DGNB is a German certification system that has been selected by the Danish Green Building Council as it encompasses all aspects of sustainability: environmental, social and economic, as well as assessing the technical and operational aspects.

Nordhavn  CopenhagenThe certification system has already been used for certifying commercial buildings in Denmark, but not entire areas. Under the same competition, the districts of Aarhus, Horsens and Carlsberg City achieved a silver level.

The development of North Harbor is being carried out by Copenhagen City and Port development, in collaboration with the City of Copenhagen and a number of consultants. It was a harbor area use as a free port, but is gradually being converted into an urban area with districts laid out as small islets that are directly connected with the water. It will contain about 40,000 residents and workplaces for up to the same number of people.

Planning for the district began with an international design competition in 2009. The idea behind the Urban Delta is to create a compact, sustainable framework to be filled out by the citizens and users of the neighbourhood. The general principle that the dense city is one of the key elements of a sustainable future.

Everybody will be within a short distance of public transport and green areas, public institutions and shopping. Pedestrian and cycling traffic will be encouraged at the expense of private car use, which will remain difficult.

 Metro and cycle path in North Harbour Copenhagen

An overhead Metro will be constructed to connect the district with the rest of Copenhagen. It will also function as a roof for a super-bicycle path, which, without rain or obstacles on the road, will make it easy to cycle.

Between them these will constitute a "green loop", which will be a key transport element. Copenhagen as a whole has set itself the overall goal of being the world's best city for cyclists. It wants half of its population to be cycling to their place of work or education by 2015.

Nordhavn  plan CopenhagenSustainable energy will come in the form of an efficient district heating network that is already in place that will be renovated and extended. It provides the entire country with cheap and eco-friendly energy. There will also be used May not wind power, biomass fuel extracted from sea lettuce, which can be grown in the waters around the town, and geothermal heat pumped up form geological strata below. All houses will be zero energy, with waste water used in water closets.

In the end it is anticipated that Nordhavn will produce more energy than it consumes, helping the city as a whole to achieve its aim of being carbon neutral.

Copenhagen has already cut CO2 emissions by 40% since 1995. 75% of the remaining reductions will come from vastly increasing the share of renewable energy in the city's district heating system, which serves 98% of households.

Copenhagen sends less than 2% of its waste to landfill, another achievement. this reduction was from a percentage of 44% in 1988. Almost 58% of all waste is recycled, and 40% used to fuel a district heating network.

During the rest of 2014, the city hopes to broadcast its message to the world about how it is managing to become one of the most sustainable cities on the planet. 

Illustrations courtesy COBE, SLETH og Ramboll.