• The Trade Council of Denmark

White paper: Improving energy efficiency through renovations

Updated: Jul 19

Today, buildings account for almost 40% of the global energy consumption, and it is predicted that 85-95% of the total European building stock existing in 2050 has already been built. Therefore, renovating existing buildings has a large potential in helping the green transition. A new white paper by State of Green highlights energy renovations.

A mix of innovative solutions, a holistic approach and long-term policies by both the private and public sector have contributed to making Denmark a global leader in creating energy efficient buildings. A new white paper by State of Green presents pathways, cases, and Danish perspectives on how to best realise the untapped potential in energy renovations in the built environment.


The Danish approach

The Danish government has set very ambitious energy goals, for example to have an energy supply solely consisting of renewable energy sources by 2050. However, in order to tackle the climate crisis and proactively engage in the green transition, it is crucial to reduce energy consumption and increase energy efficiency as well.


Approximately 25% of the total energy consumption in Denmark is used for space and hot water heating in buildings. Therefore, energy savings in buildings have the potential to decrease the demand for energy significantly. In this connection, regulating the energy performance of existing buildings plays a crucial role in the green transition, as the annual building rate only comprises about 1-2% of the total building stock.


When it comes to ensuring energy efficiency in buildings, Denmark has one of the most thorough regulatory frameworks. Its central components consist of energy labelling, a strict building code, and involvement of relevant industries. The Danish Building Code, BR18, is among the key policy instruments to achieve energy savings. Furthermore, it contains requirements regarding the energy performance related to large renovations of buildings. If certain items are replaced, for example a window or the roof, the building code has minimum standards for the energy performance of the new components.


The building code is updated every five years in order to include new technological developments in the construction industry. Whenever changes are made, the industry is consulted to ensure a realistic and ambitious development. This ensures that the building code fosters innovation in the industry, and creates opportunity for the industry to invest in the necessary solutions before implementation.


The inclusion of the private sector in the green transition is a cornerstone of Danish climate governance. This is especially important when it comes to the energy renovation of buildings, where utilising the knowhow of the construction industry is key.


Case: ProjectZero

In 2010, a project called ProjectZero was launched in the Danish city of Sønderborg. The aim of the project was to demonstrate how a one-stop-shop-approach focusing on both the demand and supply side in energy renovations could foster more local investments.


Most of the houses in Sønderborg were built before the energy crises in the 1970s with their main energy supply being oil and natural gas. In collaboration with local banks, realtors, craftsmen, district heating companies and energy consultants, several initiatives targeting more energy inefficient buildings were initiated. These initiatives spanned from educating craftsmen in energy consultancy to introducing accessible loans and monitoring efforts among relevant stakeholders in the renovation and building market.


Out of the 1,600 house owners that received guidance, 60% of them would later invest an average of DKK 150,000 (EUR 20,162) in energy renovations. Taking away the learnings from the project in Sønderborg, experiences from the project have become a steppingstone for other energy efficiency projects in both Denmark and internationally.


Spillover effects

The white paper also notes that renovations are not only useful in lowering the energy consumption. By investing in holistic renovation of office buildings and thereby providing an energy efficient, healthy and comfortable workspace, a typical renovation can lead to a 12% increase in employee productivity. This amounts to an added value of 500 billion annually in Europe alone!


Renovations may also lead to benefits in other settings. For example, optimising the indoor environment in hospitals can reduce the average time spent hospitalised by up to 11%. In schools, a better indoor environment can heighten student performance and optimize learning results by two weeks per year.


With a long history of innovation and expertise in energy optimisation, Danish companies involved in construction and energy consulting are encouraged to reach out to the Trade Council to hear more about the opportunities in South East Asia, where energy consumption and energy efficiency are large agendas.


To find the full white paper and read more about energy renovation, cases and solutions, click here.


Contact the Royal Danish Embassy in Singapore for more information about business opportunities and how Denmark seeks to inspire green transition in Southeast Asia:


Mark Edward Perry

Head of Trade at the Royal Danish Embassy in Singapore

Phone: +65 9088 5567

Email: markpe@um.dk

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