“Traffic remains a challenge”

Copenhagen has set itself the seemingly impossible goal of being carbon-neutral by 2025, while dealing with a 20% increase in its population. One of Greater Copenhagen’s 79 municipalities, Albertslund, is emulating the Danish capital with equally ambitious sustainability targets. How can they do it? In an interview with Technologist, Niels Carsten Bluhme, Albertslund’s director for city, culture, environment and employment, describes his vision for a green, liveable city.

Technologist: What’s your main challenge?

Niels Carsten Bluhme: We’ve been very successful in coping with emissions related to electricity and heating. CO2 emissions in Albertslund have fallen nearly 40% since 2006, mainly thanks to greener energy production; and NOx emissions from electricity, natural gas and district heating fell 17% in 2014. But traffic remains a challenge, generating 47% of all CO2 emissions in 2015.

T. How can you foster efficient, sustainable mobility in a growing city?

N.C.B. One of our solutions is to encourage cycling. Currently about 40% of Copenhagen’s inhabitants commute by bike, and the city would break down if they travelled by car. In 2012 Albertslund opened the first “cycle superhighway” in the Greater
Copenhagen area. This 22-km route, with very few crossings and traffic signals timed to produce “green waves”, makes biking from the suburbs into the city an attractive alternative. Between 2010 and 2015, bike traffic in Albertslund increased by about 20%. Further routes were opened in the area, with plans to extend the network to 500 km. We also participated in “Test an e-bike”, a project which loaned electric bikes to 1,700 motorists for three months. One year after the test period, 50% of participants reported changing their transport habits.

T. What other initiatives are you pursuing?

N.C.B. Within the next 10 years, we’re running a large project to refurbish over 6,000 homes for improved energy efficiency, which will reduce their energy consumption by at least 50%. We’re also investigating smart lighting solutions and testing them in real life with the Danish Outdoor Lighting Lab, a cooperative project involving the municipality, the Technical University of Denmark and other partners.