Following the partnership agreement Denmark and the German state of Baden-Württemberg entered into in 2017, a German delegation travelled to Denmark last week to discuss new approaches and innovative solutions that increase energy efficiency in buildings.

During the UN Climate Conference, COP23, which was held in Bonn in November 2017, Denmark and Baden-Württemberg, which is Germany’s third largest state and home to iconic German companies such as Daimler and Bosch, entered into an ambitious partnership agreement, where they agreed to exchange knowledge and share experiences in a bid to help each other further their transition to a low-carbon society. Specific topics highlighted as areas for future collaboration were energy efficiency in industry and buildings, district heating, integration of the electricity and heating sectors and intelligent energy planning.

As an extension of this, a delegation from Baden-Württemberg visited Denmark over three days to engage in further discussions and to gain a deeper insight into how Danish companies and government authorities are working with energy efficiency in buildings. The technical tour, which is organised by the Danish Energy Agency, is headed by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry for the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector and consists of energy officials, engineers, architects, energy consultants and journalists.

Baden-Württemberg and Denmark aim to spur low-carbon development
Both Denmark and Baden-Württemberg have ambitious climate goals and are leaders in implementing measures that increase energy efficiency in buildings. For example, Denmark has a long history of implementing building codes that set stringent standards for energy performance and is moving towards nearly zero energy buildings. Furthermore, Denmark has achieved impressive results in integrating renewable energy sources into the grid and aims to phase out the use of fossil resources by 2050. Following updates to its Renewable Heat Act in 2015, Baden-Württemberg requires that 15% renewable energy must be used in residential and non-residential buildings and offers financial incentives for energy renovations.

-We think it helps to nudge consumers, so that when they have to replace their boiler, this is a crucial moment. Rather than simply replacing the existing system, they do something supplementary, such as increase the use of renewable energy or install better insulation, explains Tilo Kurtz, Head of Unit Energy Performance of Buildings, Baden-Württemberg Ministry for the Environment, Climate Protection and the Energy Sector, when asked about some of the energy efficiency measures in place in Baden-Württemberg. Furthermore, Germany has committed to phase out the use of nuclear power by 2022 and Baden-Württemberg is working on replacing the use of nuclear power with renewable sources in the electricity sector, he adds.

The partnership and the delegation’s visit this week reflect Baden-Württemberg and Denmark’s strong convictions that cooperation and dialogue will ensure mutual benefits arise, not only for their own economies, but also for the efforts to transition to low-carbon societies that is taking place on a global level. The tour’s focus on energy efficiency in buildings is highly relevant in this context, given that buildings are responsible for approximately 40% of CO2 emissions in developed countries. Furthermore, energy savings and increased energy efficiency have a major role to play in decarbonising the energy market and reaching the global climate goals as set out in the historic Paris Agreement.

Disovering Danish solutions for energy efficiency in buildings
The delegation’s visit to Denmark has focussed on hearing more about the Danish experiences with implementing energy efficiency measures and the current status on energy efficiency in buildings. This has involved site visits, presentations and roundtable sessions. High level discussions with the Danish Energy Agency and the City of Copenhagen have involved frank dialogue and the exchange of experiences in regards to regulatory frameworks.  Furthermore, the visit has showcased how companies and residential quarters are helping drive change in Denmark.

As part of the visit, the delegation has visited Copenhagen’s Carlsberg quarter, the global brewer’s former production site in Copenhagen. Known as Carlsberg City, old production facilities have been developed to become ultra-energy efficient and the area is now a bustling, environmentally friendly city area with an appealing mix of residential dwellings, cafes, offices and shops.

Furthermore, the visit included a visit to House of Green, Denmark’s interactive showroom and visitors’ centre that showcases Danish competencies within renewable energy and energy efficiency. Here the delegation were treated to a presentation from Denmark’s Knowledge Centre for Energy Efficiency in Buildings that disseminates knowledge and best practices. Furthermore, the Danish company Velux presented their Healthy Homes program, and the delegation learnt about the ‘Energi På Tværs’ project that gathers municipalities and companies to work together to improve energy renovations and achieve Denmark’s Capital Region’s climate and energy targets.

Commenting on insights from the visit to Denmark, Mr. Kurtz states: “One area where Denmark is really far ahead is district heating. The visit to Carlsberg City was very inspiring to see how historical buildings have been preserved, yet modernised to become more energy efficient. It is a good idea how companies and not individual homeowners are punished if renovations fail to live up to energy performance regulations”.