Nordhavnen Smart District

Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Population: 633,021 [city area]

Climate: Oceanic

Duration: 2011 – 2040

Sector: Cross-cutting

Funding sources: Public

City networks: C40

Savings: N/A

Solutions: Sustainability integration into the entire construction of the area.

Multiple benefits: A future urban area with zero emissions.

Nordhavnen is Scandinavia’s largest (200 hectare) sustainable urban area under construction. It is a harbour redevelopment that will consist of housing, shops, cultural institutions, sports facilities and state-of-the-art recreational areas.

Objective – To make Nordhavnen a model for future smart cities, featuring integrated solutions in transportation, renewable energy and data collection as a basis for a generation of new smart city services.

Solutions – Integrated solutions combine the development of city planning, built environment and efficient and eco-friendly transportation systems. There is a specific emphasis on the optimal integration of clean-tech solutions in Nordhavnen in the sectors of water, air, waste and advanced materials related to the future scarcity of resources. Besides, access to public data on transportation, energy consumption, water conditions and other information is crucial to the vision of Nordhavnen. Therefore, the establishment of the EnergyLab makes possible to collect data via smart meters and sensors to improve energy infrastructure and efficiency. Additionally, a sustainable multimodal transportation loop is planned, consisting of super bike paths, super bus routes and the metro system connecting Nordhavnen to the rest of Copenhagen.

Funding – The budget for developing the areas of Aarhusgade and Sundmolen is € 60-65 Mln. The general Nordhavn project is a public driven project carried out by CPH City and Port Development in collaboration with the City of Copenhagen and a number of consultants. CPH City and Port Development is owned by City of Copenhagen (95%) and the Danish Government (5%).

Moreover, private companies are constructing their own buildings, for which the budget is unknown. EnergyLab Nordhavn has a budget on € 17 Mln and is supported by the Danish EUDP Programme.

Innovation – The setting-up of Energylab Nordhavn (april 2015) consists of the first urban laboratory of its kind in Denmark [source]. And with the EnergyLab centered in Nordhavnen, the area also has the potential to become an international hub for research into all aspects of intelligent energy systems. With both research and actual sustainable urban development being brought together in one place, the expectation is to make Nordhavnen a full-scale showroom for sustainability of various kinds.

Success factors – A very important aspect of the planning of Nordhavnen was to keep in touch with future users and inhabitants, the citizens of Copenhagen. This strong emphasis on integrating people’s views and opinions from the project’s outset will make Nordhavnen a more sustainable and liveable area.

Significant outcomes:

The project is still in its implementation phase, always evolving in scale and depth, which means that the impact of the solution is difficult to measure. However, Norhavnen project has the following expectations:

  • Being a pioneer on how emerging city-areas can integrate sustainability into every cornerstone of its construction;
  • Create a large urban development with zero emissions.

Synergies with local policies:

  • Copenhagen Climate Plan aims to turn Copenhagen into the first carbon-neutral capital in the world by 2025, with CO2 emissions cut by 20% between 2005 and 2015. Concerning energy efficiency in buildings, the goal is to achieve 10% of its total CO2 reduction by 2015, through construction and renovation projects, equivalent to 50,000 tonnes of CO2.

Political alignment:

  • Denmark´s National Energy Efficiency Action Plan points to a long-term objective that in 2050 energy supply will be entirely based on renewable energy. Moreover, according to the agreement, Denmark will reduce its total energy consumption by 7% during the period 2010 to 2020;
  • Energy Agreement 2018 focus on renewable energy, energy efficiency improvements, research and energy regulation. The agreement provides for significant investments to realise the ambition of a low-emission society by the year 2050.

The parties have allocated funding that sets a course towards an RE (renewable energy) share of approximately 55% by 2030. The agreement will also give Denmark a RE share in electricity above 100% of consumption, while ensuring that at least 90% of district heating consumption is based on energy sources other than coal, oil or gas by 2030.

  • Danish Building Regulation 2018 (BR 2018) update regulations from 2015 (BR15) and specify detailed requirements for building construction under the Building Act, where energy efficiency requirements play an important role [source];
  • Building Class 2020 aims to reduce the energy consumption of buildings by 75% compared with the 2006 level. It was introduced as a voluntary building class at a relatively early stage in the building regulations [source].


Showing that large-scale sustainable urban development is fundable, achievable and economical should inspire many cities around the globe to pursue similar developments. Indeed, the project is already receiving a lot of attention from actors all over the world. However, the project has not yet been replicated. According to the main actors from Nordhavn, this is due to the phase the project is currently in (as it is still in the first phase of implementation).

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Sector: Cross cutting

Country / Region: Denmark

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In 1 user collection: Good practices of cities

Knowledge Object: User generated Initiative

Published by: City of Copenhagen