Copenhagen’s new eco-school nears completion

Construction of the Copenhagen International School's new campus in Nordhavn – one of the most state-of-the-art sustainable buildings of its kind in the world – is expected to finish by the end of the year.

Copenhagen's new eco-school nears completion
Denmark's most eco-friendly school design. Photo: C.F. Moeller.
The Copenhagen International School (CIS) is currently building a new campus in the Nordhavn district that is already receiving international praise for its design and sustainability. 
The architect firm CF Møller has designed an innovative sustainable building that is scheduled for completion in 2017. When it is finished, the school will be not only the centrepiece of Nordhavn but one of the largest building-integrated solar power plants in Denmark. 
“The Danish and Nordic architecture tradition is anything but extravagant – simplicity and sound finances have always been the key features,” CF Møller architect Julian Weyer told The Local.
“Sustainability also is a key value in Danish society, meaning not just energy consumption, but more relevantly a focus on safe and practical urban solutions, transport forms, and overall general common sense,” he said.

The school will also allow students to monitor energy production data. Photo: C.F. Møller.
The international school's new 25,000 square metre campus is expected to serve 1,200 students and 280 employees and will feature multiple green spaces and facilities. Sustainability is at the heart of the project.
The facade of the school building will be covered in 12,000 solar panels that will supply more than half of the school’s annual electricity consumption. The solar cells on the panels will cover a total area of 6,048 square metres and will produce around 300 MWh each year, roughly the equivalent of powering 70 single-family homes. 
The building's solar power will also be incorporated into the learning curriculum, with students offered a class in solar studies and the ability to monitor the campus's energy production for use in maths and physics courses. 
The main school building will be divided in four smaller towers, adapted to meet the needs of children at different stages of development. 
“Ideally, a good school is working like a small community or even city in itself, teaching students how to partake in the public life and democracy,” Weyer said.
The school is designed to give an open ambience and to link the school premises with its surrounding urban environment, but most of all to be eco-friendly. The school's design has already caught the eye of both design watchers and environmental experts. Good Magazine dubbed it “a marvel of solar science”
“We know that today's learning environments must be varied and diverse to accommodate all on the same level, and these efforts to improve spaces for teaching and concentration require that schools are suited for different, democratic and personalized learning styles”, said Weyer.

CIS Nordhavn will be Copenhagen's largest school.  Photo: C.F Møller
The school, which currently has around 850 students from more than 70 countries, isn't just significant for its design, however. The CIS expansion will make it the city's largest school and will help fulfil a need that both the Danish business community and local expats have long wanted: better schooling options for Copenhagen's foreign professionals.
The city's mayor, Frank Jensen, has been a strong supporter of the project. 
“Copenhagen International School will undoubtedly help to attract highly educated foreign experts and business leaders to Copenhagen, because we can now offer a strong international community with a clear, sustainable profile in and around Copenhagen International School,” he said at a June event to unveil the new design.  
Construction on new campus is well underway and is expected to be completed in 2017. CIS has set up a livecam of the construction, which can be viewed here
Students will even be offered a course in solar studies. Image: CF Møller
Students will even be offered a course in solar studies. Image: CF Møller

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‘We still have a chance’: Danish minister’s relief after Glasgow climate deal

Denmark's climate minister Dan Jørgensen has expressed relief that a meaningful climate change deal was struck in Glasgow last night, after a last minute move by India and China nearly knocked it off course.

'We still have a chance': Danish minister's relief after Glasgow climate deal
Denmark's climate minister Dan Jørgensen speaks at the announcement of the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance in Glasgow on Tuesday. Photo: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Ritzau Scanpix

“For the first time ever, coal and fossil fuel subsidies have been mentioned. I’m very, very happy about that,” he told Denmark’s Politiken newspaper. “But I am also very disappointed that the stronger formulations were removed at the last minute.” 

Late on Saturday, the world’s countries agreed the Glasgow Climate Pact, after negotiations dragged on while governments haggled over phasing out coal. 

Denmark is one of the countries leading the phase out of fossil fuels, formally launching the Beyond Oil and Gas Alliance (BOGA) with ten other countries and states at the Glasgow summit on Tuesday, announcing an end to oil exploration last December, and committing to phase out coal by 2030 back in 2017. 

Jørgensen conceded that the deal struck on Saturday was nowhere near far-reaching enough to keep global temperature rises below 1.5C, which scientists have estimated is critical to limiting the impacts of climate change, but he said the decision to hold another summit in Egypt next year meant that this goal could still be reached. 

“The big, good news is that we could have closed the door today. If we had followed the rules, we would only have had to update the climate plans in 2025, and the updates would only apply from 2030,” he said, adding that this would be too late. “Now we can fight on as early as next year. This is very rare under the auspices of the UN.” 

Limiting temperature rises to 1.5C was still possible, he said. 

“We have a chance. The framework is in place to make the right decisions. There was a risk that that framework would not be there.” 

Jørgensen said that he had come close to tears when India launched a last-minute bid to water down the language when it came to coal, putting the entire deal at risk. 

“It was all really about to fall to the ground,” he said. “The assessment was that either the Indians got that concession or there was no agreement.” 

Sebastian Mernild, a climate researcher at the University of Southern Denmark, said he was disappointed by the lack of binding targets and global deadlines in the plan, but said it was nonetheless “a step in the right direction”, particularly the requirement that signatories to the Paris Agreement must tighten their 2030 emissions reduction targets by the end of 2022.

“It’s good that this thing with fossil fuels has got in,” he added. “It’s a pity that you don’t have to phase them out, but only reduce.”

He said the test of whether the Glasgow meeting is a success or failure would not come until the various aspects of the plan are approved and implemented by members states.