Copenhagen - Energy surveillance, management and efficient operation in public buildings


Establishing central energy surveillance of the entire municipal property portfolio requires extensive retrofits. Installing the necessary hardware and software in existing buildings could pose a challenge; to ensure that this is not a lasting obstacle, the initiative has worked to develop future building standards.


The city of Copenhagen has often faced the tenant/owner paradox wherein owners don’t invest in energy optimization because the savings will go to tenants, and tenants don’t invest in buildings that they don’t own. This initiative is an important step in the direction toward democratised energy data which has the capacity to address this paradox by demonstrating the potential for a quick payback from projects such as this.


The Copenhagen Properties and Procurement group in collaboration with Copenhagen Utilities seeks to establish central energy surveillance of the entire municipal property portfolio of 2.2 million m². The initiative aims to save 25% in energy and water consumption by public buildings by 2025. Using a 2013 baseline, 2016 documentation shows savings in the municipal building portfolio of 6.5 GWH in district and 1.345 GWH of electricity.


This initiative has already proven massive potential for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. With data from 2016 alone, the initiative has already demonstrated the benefits of energy surveillance, noting that their systems have reduced CO2 emissions associated with heating by 332 tonnes as well as Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen emissions associated with electricity by 379 tonnes. In addition, the initiative saved 30 million litres of groundwater –– using to 2013 baseline, this results in the potential of $6 million in annual savings. Across the public building portfolio, the initiative has documented $1.23 million saved, meeting their 2016 goal. By 2025 to city hopes to have reached an annual reductions target of 4,000 tons Of CO2.

Projected Outcomes

Monitoring energy usage by collecting remote meetings from heat, water, and electricity meters on an hourly basis has made it possible for Copenhagen has been able to identify areas with the highest energy usage and potential problem areas.  In one instance, data collected by the building monitoring system indicated that there was a broken pipe which would have otherwise gone unnoticed. In addition to flagging problem areas, the system will be used in the planning process to allow for more informed proposals for projects and in the installation process to accurately measure progress.


The programme emphasises the importance of institutionalised change and, in light of this, the City has also works to create new standards for construction to make hardware installation easier. This effort demonstrates the holistic and long-term thinking that has gone into this plan –– by making formalised changes to building standards, Copenhagen sets a precedent for other cities and demonstrates the importance of collecting data. With a projected payback period of six years, this initiative shows that a comprehensive building monitoring system like Copenhagen’s is easily replicable and financially feasible for both public and private sector organizations. This initiative shows that climate action can relieve the economic burden that heat and water costs can put on a city: by documenting savings in both economic and environmental terms, the plan can help produce effective and convincing presentations for decision-makers outside of the environmental sector.