Copenhagen: The Best Place to Live


Presentation written by:

Valentin Gutter ,

Florent Genet,

Presentation supervised by: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Elena M. BARBU,




Table of content

  1. Introduction
  2. Environment
    1. Energy Consumption
    2. Energy production
    3. Transport: “Green mobility”
  3. Social
    1. Health and quality of life
    2. Human rights
    3. Urban facilities
    4. Education
    5. Company
    6. Bad point
  4. Conclusion



Copenhagen is the capital and the biggest city of Denmark. This city of 1.2 millions inhabitants, is the decision place of the country because it hosts the national parliament, the government and the Danish monarchy. Economically and culturally one of the most powerful city in northern Europe, Copenhagen has a big influence in this region and also all over the world. Nationally, the capital city is the industrial and financial heart of the country, with several head offices of multinational firms, the Copenhagen stock exchange and so on. Culturally, the city hosts the design museum and the little mermaid is the number one attraction.

The living standard is very high: the GDP per inhabitants is one of the highest around the world. Regarding the living conditions, Copenhagen is the perfect place to live. Actually, the United Nations (UN) named Denmark has the best place to live in 2016 according to the “happiness level”. UN took into account the GDP per inhabitants, life expectancy, social policies and other rates based on happiness.

We want to understand why this city became the one it currently is. A perfect living place, with great plans for the future, and above all, a sustainable development policy.

According to the United Nations, 2 out 3 people will live in a metropolis in 2030. The raising number of person in big cities bring a lot of environmental and social challenges with its. Copenhagen is one of the first city to spend time and money on the sustainable development question, and hold this challenges for years.

For Copenhagen, everything started in the end of the eighties: some citizens decided to raise people awareness on the necessity to produce renewable electricity. The targeted objective is to transform all the cooling and heating systems into “green”, without using fossil energies.

A hybrid system using biomass and waste combustion, has allowed the country to reduce its use of fossil energies from 58%. It’s also said that the city will be fully provided by wind energy in 2025.

Copenhagen, European metropolis of sustainable development.

According to Copenhagen 2025 plan:

In 2010, the heat and electricity represents 75% of total CO2 emissions in Copenhagen.

A reduction in CO2 emissions can be effectuated by increasingly switching energy production to renewables or by reducing energy consumption.

If the City of Copenhagen does not implement further initiatives, total energy consumption in the buildings of Copenhagen in 2025 will remain at roughly the same level as in 2010.

In the projection, allowances are made for savings in electricity and heat but also for a population growth. In return, CO2 emissions related to energy consumption are reduced by about 50%. This is achieved by switching the district heating production to biomass and by plans to convert 50% of the Danish electricity supply to wind power by 2020.

Phasing out coal in favor of biomass in the future district heating production in Copenhagen will result in a more expensive supply seen from an economic perspective. So, major economic benefits can be gained by reducing energy consumption in buildings. This also means that Copenhagen will be able to minimize the need for investing in new energy production.


Environment policy

The CPH 2025 Climate Plan points to substantial reductions in total energy consumption. The initiative is comprehensive and covers all sectors in Copenhagen with particular focus on electricity consumption in commercial and service companies where consumption is expected to rise in the years up to 2025.

The initiative is designed to ensure that existing buildings as well as new build in Copenhagen will meet future requirements.

Major goals for 2025 compared to 2010:

  • 20% reduction in heat consumption.
  • 20% reduction in power consumption in commercial and service companies.
  • 10% reduction in power consumption in households.


The total expenses of Copenhagen to implement initiatives leading to a reduction of energy consumption is expected to amount to nearly DKK 170 million until 2025.

But, we should know that, having reduced heat consumption by 20% in 2025 and electricity consumption by 20% in commercial and service companies and 10% in households, economic savings will be approximately DKK 1.6 billion. For instance, a couple living in a flat will, on average, be saving approximately DKK 4,000 annually on their energy consumption by 2025 if the goals are met.

Strategy for a reduction of energy consumption in the construction sector

The City of Copenhagen will work out a strategy for reducing energy consumption in the construction sector. The strategy will include both existing and new build in Copenhagen. Ambitious goals have been set for energy efficient construction in Copenhagen, leading to a number of initiatives being launched to provide solutions to the challenges of energy efficient construction from different perspectives. The strategy will act as a guideline for both the City Administration and the construction sector to manage the future planning of energy retrofitting in the city.

So, the strategy on the reduction of energy consumption in the construction sector must ensure that the effort to achieve energy efficient buildings in Copenhagen will be done by knowledge sharing with all relevant parties. The numerous initiatives being launched in the immediate future must be coordinated across the various City Administrations. A follow-up procedure will ensure that the City Administration is on the right track with regard to attaining the set goals. This includes registering completed energy retrofitting and low-energy construction projects in Copenhagen resulting in the accumulation of experience and follow-up on energy consumption in the  finished projects.

Work to reduce energy consumption will, therefore, be organized at cross-sectoral level within the City Administration and in close collaboration with external parties.

The smart city

Turning Copenhagen into a smart city means user-friendly development while also reducing consumption of resources. The starting point for the smart city is to limit in capacity, renewable energy production, consumer patterns and consumer needs will be integrated into the solutions which are  finally implemented.

With the smart city, Copenhagen wants to select the most energy efficient solutions such as giving high priority to electricity largely produced by renewables and to ensure that the potential for  flexible energy consumption is utilized. The City Administration will use its own vehicles and buildings to test and implement new technology.

Copenhagen is the ideal place for the challenges launched by the Danish government. The objective is to become a green clever city, adapted to climate changes and carbon neutral in 2025. The plan has been set up on 2009, during the COP 15.

Next to the build of hundred wind turbines, energy saving, highway with bike priority, the clever city concept became central to reach the objectives while the population keeps growing and actually energy consumption growing too.

The heart of the strategy consist in equipping all urban properties with sensors: from dustbins to floor lamps, in order to measure the air quality, the traffic…

Several projects are in development:

  • Dustbins sensors could inform whether they are full or not. From this information, the municipality could optimize the garbage collection.
  • Floor lamps sensors could inform drivers where is the closest available parking space, it’s said that between 20 and 40 % of drivers are looking for one.

Digital infrastructure

In the smart city, we will be monitoring energy consumption, amongst other things by controlling the energy consumption in buildings, and learn from it. Access to public energy consumption data creates a scope for new services and new information for the benefit of both Copenhageners and businesses. The City of Copenhagen will be collaborating with relevant partners to ensure an open digital infrastructure so that Copenhagen will have an open platform for new and innovative solutions.

In the future, energy and water consumption in City of Copenhagen buildings will be monitored by remote meter reading and illustrated so that the City Administration, in conjunction with relevant players, can optimize and innovate the city’s digital infrastructure.

Smart building

The smart building is a general concept involving a number of elements within the  field of energy efficiency, flexibility and energy management. The concept will be tested in two of the City Administration’s properties before it will spread to various sectors in Copenhagen.

Ecological hotels : more than 63% of the rooms are Green certified. Most of hotel have adopted an environmental plan with the objectives to reduce water consumption, waste, energy consumption, food, heating and cooling systems.

Eco-responsible design : In 2013, Copenhagen has received the INDEX awards. It’s the most important design award around the world.

The green city has several green lungs. By the way, 96% of the inhabitants can reach a green or blue zone, by feet, in less than 15 minutes. Moreover, the city has announced a big project in which new urban gardens will be developed.


Energy production

Major goals for 2025 are a district heating in Copenhagen is carbon neutral, electricity production based on wind and biomass and separation of plastic from households and businesses.

In 2025, the production of electricity, heating and cooling in Copenhagen will primarily be based on wind, biomass, geothermal energy and waste. The goal is carbon neutral district heating by 2025 with Copenhagen contributing to establishing a renewable electricity production which, in total, exceeds the city’s electricity consumption. This is likely to place Copenhagen in a unique position both nationally and internationally. Clearly, this has a number of inherent and obvious advantages.

Firstly, energy production will be based on several renewable energy sources. The energy needs of people and businesses vary over a 24-hour period and over the course of a year. Flexible energy production provides an opportunity to meet varying demands for energy in order to use energy resources optimally. This will also reduce the reliance on individual energy sources.

Secondly, the conversion will provide green job opportunities in the process of converting to already developed energy technologies, and partly in relation to development and demonstration of green energy solutions of the future in other cities or country.

Main challenges

Today and in the immediate future, Copenhagen faces a number of big challenges in the area of green energy production. These include a lack of base load facilities, the deregulation of the waste sector and the need for a flexible energy supply together with a need for strategic energy planning. Furthermore, expectations point to economic growth as well as a considerable population increase in Copenhagen. Carbon neutral district heating requires the conversion of peak load supply to carbon neutral fuels and a separation of plastic from the incinerate waste. Electricity needed geothermal facilities will continue to emit CO2 until the production of electricity has been converted into renewable which, according to the Government, should be implemented by 2035.

Flexible energy-system

A growing quantity of wind in the energy supply creates the need for more  flexibility in the rest of the energy production and also with users. It is necessary to opt for several technologies such as storage, heat pumps and biomass-based combined heat and power which can be adapted to actual consumption.

The district heating system of the Greater Copenhagen Area is likely to be better suited to a flexible energy system by increasing dynamics in the power stations and by increasingly establishing heat storage facilities whereby heat can be stored and used when the need arises. The City of Copenhagen will examine the basis for using large heat pumps in the district heating grid on a large scale to balance the overall energy system.

Waste deregulation

In December 2010, the market for importing and exporting commercial waste was deregulated. If the same thing happens with household waste, the consequences for waste treatment will be significant. In 2012, the Government presented a resource strategy, Denmark must treat waste as a resource and reusable waste must be used. Waste is a somewhat uncertain entity, with regard to the quantity of waste for energy production and to CO2 emissions from waste incineration.


Transport: “Green mobility”

Major goals for 2025:

  • 75% of all journeys in town on foot, by bicycle or by public transport.
  • 50% of all journeys to place of work or study by bicycle.
  • Public transports are carbon neutral.

The City of Copenhagen is focused on making cycling, walking or using public transport the most attractive means of transport for Copenhageners. If they use their cars, the aim is that most of them use electrical, hydrogen or hybrid-powered cars or new fuels like bio fuels. Transport in Copenhagen must contribute to making a greener, smarter and healthier city in 2025. Amongst other things, inhabitants will receive information on and an opportunity to try other methods of transport such as electric cars. Another activity focuses on making life easier for cyclists and getting more people on their bikes.

The City Administration is improving conditions for cyclists on an ongoing basis, expansion of the Metro and optimization of the bus network have improved public transport. Still, huge challenges remain if the goals are to be attained by 2025. This requires investments in everything from infrastructure to bicycles, electric and hybrid cars and bio fuels for the public transport sector,

traffic nodal points and intelligent transport systems (ITS).

Several initiatives support developments to achieve greener transport as described in ’Action Plan for Green Mobility’, which was adopted by the City of Copenhagen in 2012. This includes extending the Metro supplemented by light railways and priority bus routes, expanding the overall coherence of the cycle lane network, a better interaction between the various modes of transport.

There is focus on electric cars in Copenhagen. The City of Copenhagen has as its goal that 85% of the Administration’s own passenger cars must be powered by electricity or hydrogen by 2019.

According to a recent survey, 4 out 5 people had a bicycle, and more than 35% of the population uses it every day on the 400 km bike path.

The city has set up a global  GREEN transportation network with train, underground, bus and boats, in which each are linked in order to let people move all over the city.

The change come from a real desire from citizens and obviously from the government. For instance, 63% of Danish parliament members use a bike to go to work.

Transport and intelligent mobility integrating the various ways of transportation into a single at the same time effective, easily accessible, affordable, safe and ecological system


2. Social Policy

People are very important for Copenhagen leaders. Besides its interest for the environment, Copenhagen was one of forerunner of a social point of view. In some way, to think of the environment it is to think of the future generations and to look for a kind of social well-being.

In 1995, on the initiative of United Nations, the first World Summit for Social Development was held, and thanks to Danish government invitation, it took place in Copenhagen. This event has gathered 108 heads of state who committed for many causes. Among them there is the willingness to fight against poverty, reach full employment, establish stability in the society, security and justice. We are going to discover that these commitments were respected. They also endorsed a declaration and an action program with a main objective: place people at the center of development. And this is what the city chose to do place human at the core of the city. It used an open dialogue with citizens in order to instill courage and desire to partake in the city’s culture.


Health and quality of life

Copenhagen and its region provide healthcare, mental healthcare and regional development for more than 1.7 million people, it represent almost 30% of the population of Denmark, also they are doing research. There are 36000 employee of the region who are mainly health care professionals. It makes it one of Denmark’s largest employers.

Copenhagen has the honor of hosting the European regional office of the World Health Organization.

There is many evidence which show the importance of the well-being of the citizens for Copenhagen. For instance the existence of the Happiness research institute.

This think tank establishment exploring why some societies are happier than others. It propose masterclass in happiness, provide many research about job satisfaction or guide on how to improve quality of life for instance. Furthermore, it propose evaluations for philanthropic foundations to determine which projects have the best ability to improve quality of life. On top of that, its CEO Meik Wiking is very active, he published book and participated to TEDx conference and many other event.

The institute which is currently partner with several cities, governments and organizations in order to set the agenda to improve quality of life, has developed an assessment model to measure well-being. It is based on measurement guidelines and benchmarks from the OECD and UN. They combined both qualitative and quantitative methods to provide vision on the level of well-being, happiness and quality of life. Whether it measured happiness, well-being or quality of life it faced with the same challenges and it is complex concepts. Therefore, it analyzed different components: cognitive, affective and eudemonic dimensions (click on the link to get more information)

In fact, citizen developed kind of philosophy around happiness. Copenhageners like other Danish people have even a word to describe source of happiness that they use often. This word which appeared during the 19 century is “hygge” and its original meaning is “well-being”. It’s a common word that people keep in mind, and which does serve them well.

In 2014, in order to fight against serious mental disorders which lead to unemployment, the city invested 6 million kroner (€800k) into 5 public stress-clinics. Since people who are most stressed are often in situation of unemployed, long term sick or low-skilled, services will target particularly areas with those stress symptoms.

In 2017, Copenhagen has been ranked 9 in the world quality of life ranking from Mercer and 6 according to Monocle.

CSR interest in mind and in order to improve quality of life, Danish government built another think tank named The Copenhagen Centre. The main objective of the Centre is to generate knowledge and gather business leaders and political decision-makers to think a changing role of business in society. Next to that, the center hosts the secretariat of the National Network of Business Leaders. Furthermore, the Centre is member of the European Academy of Business in Society and has working relations with the EU Commission, the UN Global Compact and the World Bank.


Human rights

We based on whole Denmark figures, Copenhagen as capital is leading the way of the country on that point.

Whether for the judiciary, police/military, legislature or executive branch, Copenhagen is the city with the lowest corruption in the world.

Concerning the respect of fundamental rights, discrimination is very low between gender, the security is very high such as the freedom of expression and the right to privacy. It also explains why people feel so good living in this city. The civil and criminal justice are both in the top 3 around the world.

All those figures ranked Denmark and its capital Copenhagen the world leader in the field according to Rule of Law Index.


Urban facilities

Copenhagen have been ranked 4th best city in the world thanks to its infrastructures. Criteria are the supply in electricity and in drinking water, phone and internet services, public transportation, fluidity of the traffic and the offer of international flights of the local airports.

Clever public spaces encouraged people to relax and socialize.



Copenhagen have a really famous business school one of the largest in Europe. The Copenhagen Business School commemorated its first century of existence last year.

This university is very CSR focused and has been a signatory to the United Nation backed Principles for Responsible Management Education this year, a network of business schools who work to promote responsible management education.

Student are welcomed first day of class with the Responsibility Day Case Competition which presented real-life examples of responsible management. There is also a CBS Diversity Day
which is mostly arranged by students, it promotes awareness among students and faculty on issues concerning diversity and inclusion. It also proposed a digital education with MOOCs on Social Entrepreneurship.

Finally, It has a famous Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility which leading academic knowledge hub for CSR, sustainability and business ethics.



The Danish business authority which is located in Copenhagen include a 8 employees CSR team, which works to improve the conditions of the business community and to create growth for the benefit of the business community and society at large at the same time.

It monitor the implementation of the Government’s inter-ministerial action plan for corporate social responsibility, act as the secretariat for the Danish Council for Corporate Responsibility and the Mediation and Complaints-Handling Institution for Responsible Business Conduct. Then, it handle several projects and activities promoting strategic CSR among Danish companies.

Government involvement in CSR was passed on to company like Crowne plaza, the international hotel, part of InterContinental Hotels Group which is located in the downtown.

It commits a CSR charter in order to run a profitable business while agreeing with a social, environmental and economic responsibilities. Also, It support and has introduced in its own policy the Ten Principles of the United Nations Global Compact about Human Rights, Labor, Environment and Anti-Corruption, which allows it to obtain the management standards DS 49001 (CSR).

The largest CSR event in Scandinavia “ Who Cares Wins” was held in Copenhagen. It targeted CEOs, marketing directors and other members of the board, executive management of company and also NGO. The aim of this event was to make the biggest  possible impact in the organizations’ participating and in society as a whole.

Companies which participated were able to acquire more knowledge on the implementation of the RSE 2.0 and to make the most of the social and sustainable work.


Bad point

Despite all initiative, the Copenhageners die earlier than other Danes, the life expectancy is 2,2 years lower than in elsewhere in the country. According to Copenhagen’s deputy mayor for health, Ninna Thomsen it’s due to the lifestyle: “Too many cigarettes and too much alcohol. Too little exercise and too much stress. Too many kebabs and not enough salads.”

Danish Business Authority and Copenhagen Business School in collaboration with Cabi study whether the legal obligation to report CSR has increased the company’s focus on accommodating exposed unemployed and employees. Actually, only between two and four percent of companies indicate that the legal requirement has increased their focus on maintaining or recruiting vulnerable people.



Concerning the energy consumption and production and the green mobility, Copenhagen is definitively ahead of is time. Maybe too much because some infrastructures are not ready to welcome this movement yet like traffic jam on cycle highway have shown us for instance.

Humans rights have a lot of importance in Denmark and in its capital. We can found it early in school education then in the company. In line with their well-being culture, healthcare is efficient and quality of life is among the best in the world.



United Nations (1995), Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and the Program of Action of the World Summit for Social Development

  • City of Copenhagen (2016-2019), Culture and Leisure Policy
  • Christian Hult (2018), Facts about the Capital Region of Denmark
  • Embassy of France in Denmark (2018)
  • Meik Wiking (2018), Happiness research institute
  • Aymeric Renou (2016), Le Parisien, Vive le bonheur… à la danoise
  • CPH POST (2014), Copenhagen opens five stress clinics
  • Communication Mercer France (2017), Annual ranking Mercer
  • Louise Sinnerton (2017) , Monocle, video: quality of life survey top 25 cities
  • Eldis (2018), Copenhagen Centre for Corporate Responsibility
  • World justice project (2017-2018), Rule of law Index
  • Monocle (2018), Movie Copenhagen
  • Danish Business Authority (2018), Corporate Social Responsibility and the Danish Responsibility Authority
  • Allan L. Agerholm (2013), Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers CSR Report
  • Gilles Ferrer (2017), Copenhague, smart city
  • Géraldine Marcheteau (2016), Copenhague ou la ville verte « intelligente »
  • Olivier Truc (2015), Copenhague, laboratoire de la future ville intelligente
  • Frank Jensen and Ayfer Baykal (2012), CPH 2025 Climate Plan