Sønderborg, Denmark is aiming for a high environmental standard: to be carbon-neutral by 2029. Achieving that ambitious benchmark depends on generating power and heat from renewable sources and making its buildings more energy-efficient. The Project Zero goal is to reduce carbon emissions in the Sønderborg area by 25% from 2007 levels by 2015, and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2029.
The top near-term goal is to build a transmission pipe to connect the area’s islanded district heating networks by 2015. Planners also want to expand the networks. Today, just 34% of the area’s buildings are connected to district heating. By 2015, one-half of the buildings in urban areas that currently burn oil or gas for space heating are expected to switch to district heating. The integrated district heating network will draw heat from multiple complementary renewable sources: geothermal, household waste, biogas, biomass, and solar.
The Project Zero roadmap envisions that energy-efficient technologies and community engagement will reduce energy consumption by 38% by 2029. The age of the local building stock represents a challenge, as well as an opportunity, to achieving the energy efficiency goals. The average age of homes in the area is 65 years, well before Denmark’s first building energy efficiency standards appeared. About 65% of the people visited by a field energy adviser go on to contact a craftsman or architects to improve their home’s efficiency. Retrofit projects have created more than 300 local jobs.