Sustainable Cities™

Copenhagen: Lighting the way in low-energy construction

Located at the University of Copenhagen, the Green Lighthouse reflects a vision of sustainable architecture that the University and City of Copenhagen share. Through careful formal design in relation to the sun and a number of innovative technological solutions, ranging from automatically opening shutters to advanced temperature-regulating material, the building maintains an energy demand much lower than that required by regulations for 2020.

Green Lighthouse CPH
Green Lighthouse er blevet opført af Strategiske partnere VELUX/VELFAC, Københavns Universitet, København Kommune og Bygningsstyrelsen

The Green Lighthouse, while not actually a physical beacon on a coast, is designed to be the centre of activity at Nørre Campus: a branch of the University of Copenhagen, which is located in the University Park of Nørrebro and consists of facilities for the natural, medical, and pharmaceutical sciences. The campus's new green architectural addition will offer meeting rooms, student services, and a faculty club.

A number of architectural features ensure that the building will keep its energy use to a minimum. One of these is its circular plan, which draws inspiration from the shape of a sundial and gives the building a reduced surface area, allowing less thermal energy to escape through the facade. Additionally, low-energy windows and 400 mm thick insulation (double the standard size), make the building very effective at maintaining its indoor temperature.  These windows and skylights are also tall and carefully positioned in relation to the movement of the sun in order to allow for maximal utilization of natural light.  Furthermore, to make direct sunlight more usable for indoor means, mobile screens just outside these windows will open and close as the sun moves around the facade. Similarly, motor-controlled windows will open and close to draw fresh air in from optimal locations.



The Green Lighthouse's low energy use is complemented with its own energy production from solar cells on its roof that supply heat for hot water and electricity for lighting, ventilation, etc.  Furthermore, plasterboards containing the temperature-regulating material PCM are installed to "produce," or rather, release heat in cold temperatures that was originally absorbed in warmer temperatures. Also, to ensure that no energy is wasted, excess heat from warm months can be stored in an underground PCM compartment, securing an ample reserve for the winter.

Danish building regulations state that, by 2020, all building energy consumption should not exceed 30.7 kWh per m2 per year but, already, from its expected opening in the fall of 2009, the Green Lighthouse will have an energy demand of approximately 22 kWh per m2 per year. If the expected schedule for the lighthouse's construction goes according to plan, the building will be ready for the start of the semester in September 2009 and, in the following December, it will be included as an exemplary project for the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (COP15). With the power to show the world the incredibly high energy saving potential of buildings, the Green Lighthouse will hopefully help light the way towards an internationally sustainable future.

Last updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014