Green efforts save DKK 35 million a year at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Text: Theresa Schaltz

Over the last ten years, the effort to save energy at the University of Copenhagen has paid off, producing both green results and large economic gains. Recent data shows that the university has reduced its CO2 emissions by 48 % in ten years, while energy consumption has been reduced by 32 %.

These results are fueled by Denmark’s, and in particular Copenhagen’s, green transformation to renewable energy sources. Power stations using biomass and wind turbines have contributed to a significant part of the CO2 reduction but the university’s own efforts to use energy more efficiently have also had a significant impact.

“We’re seeing the results of many people’s efforts – from individual employees who remember to close the fume cupboard, to technicians and project managers who make sure that the buildings are becoming more energy-efficient,” says Tomas Refslund Poulsen, Green Campus team leader at the University of Copenhagen.

In this short video you can see an example of the University of Copenhagen’s energy and climate efforts which are given high priority when building new facilities.

Improved ventilation, LED lights, efficient building management and distant cooling are just some of the specific initiatives that contribute to the results.

With the results so far, the university is on its way towards the two most important objectives in the sustainability strategy ‘Green Campus 2020’. The aim is to reduce CO2 emissions by 65 % in 2020 and energy consumption by 50 %, both calculated per full-time equivalent (employee/student). The results at the university contribute to a more sustainable development, while the more efficient use of energy certainly also benefits the organisation’s bottom line. With the efforts to improve energy efficiency, the University of Copenhagen today spends around DKK 35 million less on energy per year. The approximately DKK 110 million which has so far been invested in energy projects are well spent and mean more funds for research and education.

In the years leading up to 2020, the university will maintain a strong focus on energy efficiency, just as work on the other objectives in Green Campus 2020 will continue.

Recycling waste

However, there is also room for improvements in the university’s green effort. Recycling of waste, for example, is an area where more can be done.  The target is that 50 % of the university’s waste is reused. Today, less than 30% of waste is recycled which is far from enough and as such this represents a task to be dealt with.

“In some areas at the University of Copenhagen, employees and students have well-functioning options to sort waste, but there are also several areas where these options are not available. This is something we must work on in the coming years if we are to reach the target,” Tomas Refslund Poulsen says.

The strategy guiding the work on sustainability is called ‘Green Campus 2020’. It was adopted in 2014 and comprises a number of ambitious targets for reducing the environmental impact of the university’s activities up towards 2020. In the sustainability report ‘Green Results’ (in Danish), an account of the University of Copenhagen sustainability for 2015 is presented and according to the report, the University of Copenhagen has:

  • Reduced CO2 emissions by 48% (per full-time equivalent) from 2006-2015
  • Reduced energy consumption by 32% (per full-time equivalent) in the same period
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