This is an entry in my series on Denmark's myriad efforts in the climate and clean energy arena, and why they seem to work. I'm trying to find out if Denmark-ifying societies around the world might stop climate change ...
Denmark's energy efficiency mandates mean that new homes built there use less energy than in most places in the world. But in 2003, a new development outside of Copenhagen doubled down, and decided to slash even that usage in half. As a result, Stenlose South, a suburb some 15 miles from the capital, has become one of the largest low-energy communities in Europe. Though each boasts different design features, they boast some or all of the following:
- Rainwater harvesting. The resident I spoke to says that the entire house's water needs are met almost entirely by collected rainwater.
- Smart energy systems, and information tools that allow residents to see how their energy use stacks up against their neighbors'.
- Thick, solid insulation from Rockwool, a decades-old Danish company. They manufacture their insulation in a process that involves spinning molten rock into wool.
- Passive house design.
- Efficient heat pumps, often powered by solar panels on the roof.
Here's one Stenlose resident's take on living there:
Of course, a suburb is still a suburb, and cars seemed to be the primary form of transportation in Stenlose South, though the community is dense enough that the children can walk to school. Suburbs are hardly the wave of the future -- especially as more and more people flock to cities. But they're not going away anytime soon, and measures like these can make them a lot more viable as energy prices rise. Encouraging sprawl might not be, but making energy efficient homes is certainly a core climate solution.