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Green architecture – Green Lighthouse in Denmark

By Damir Beciri
1 November 2009

green-lighthouse-exteriorIn this article we’re going to write about first public carbon neutral building in Denmark. Designed by Christensen & Co, the sundial-shaped structure was recently completed. The student services center will be showcased during the UN Climate Conference (COP15) this December, where it will serve as proof that carbon neutral buildings are possible with good design and planning. In fact, 70% of the energy reductions achieved were a direct consequence of architectural design, not fancy technology. Green Lighthouse got its name because its spiral interior organization resembles lighthouses (it could be interpreted as a house of light as well, because of the multitude of natural light).

In order to achieve carbon neutrality, many green design features were incorporated to reduce energy use and provide a healthy indoor environment for students and faculty. The building itself was oriented to maximize its solar resources, while windows and doors are recessed and covered with automatic solar shades to minimize direct solar heat gain inside the building. Plentiful daylight and natural ventilation are provided by carefully placed VELUX skylights, Velfac windows and the generous atrium.

green-lighthouse-interior-1

Sensibly integrated state-of-the-art technology has been applied, so the building has heat recovery systems, photovoltaic panels, solar heating, LED lighting, phase change materials, and geothermal heat are just some of the technologies that are seamlessly integrated into the building. The great video below explains the sustainable features of the project. It was made by London based Squint Opera animators and nominated for CGArchitect.com’s Best Overall Architectural Film in 2009.


The Green Lighthouse was inaugurated last week after construction started less than a year ago. The building will serve as the student services building for the University of Copenhagen’s Faculty of Science. Students will be able to receive career advice, study and lounge in the building. Administration offices and a faculty club for scientists will also be housed there. The new carbon neutral building will serve as an excellent example for the upcoming climate talks in December.

Visionary architecture which makes the most of natural factors such as sun and air has cut ¾ of energy use compared to standard use by a building of that size. Energy is provided by a unique combination of solar panels, heat pumps and district heating.

energy-concept-green-lighthouse

Danish Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, Helge Sander said: “Everyone who has had a share in the Green Lighthouse project has every reason to be proud. It is a stylish, exemplary, climate-friendly construction, which will help focus the attention on Danish know-how during the forthcoming climate summit. At the same time, the building can serve as inspiration to other universities and builders, while also contributing to the construction industry’s knowledge base of sustainable building solutions”.

“Instead of seeing the need to save energy as a limitation and think oh no, we can only build houses with small windows, for example, we decided to see it as an opportunity to use even bigger, but very insulating windows. If a house is light, people will also turn on the light less,” said architect of the building Michael Christensen.

Overall, it is an attractive building which incorporates both simple and state-of-the-art technology solutions which helped the building become carbon neutral. It will surely start changing the face of Denmark’s public buildings.

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