July 12, 2024

NREP to Construct Timber Residential Building in Denmark with Unprecedented Low Carbon Footprint

Leading Nordic real estate investor Nrep has revealed plans to construct a six-storey timber residential building in Nordhavn, Copenhagen’s new sustainable harborside district. This 13,100 square meter development will set a new standard in Denmark for low carbon emissions in buildings over four floors, thanks to its innovative wooden construction.

Denmark is renowned for its commitment to sustainable architecture and green building practices. Recent legislation further tightens CO2 emission limits for new buildings, including during the construction phase. Denmark is the first country to impose embodied carbon limits in building regulations. Starting 1 July 2025, multi-storey apartment buildings must have maximum emissions of 7.5 kg of CO2 per square meter and a maximum of 1.5 kg of CO2 per square meter from the construction phase.

Designed by Henning Larsen, the project will feature 115 apartments and two commercial spaces, with expected completion by mid-2026. Nrep’s Nordhavn development aims for a total of 5 kg of CO2 per square meter, significantly below the new stringent requirements.

A groundbreaking ceremony, attended by Danish Minister for Social Affairs and Housing Pernille Rosenkrantz-Theil and Copenhagen’s Lord Mayor Sophie Hæstorp Andersen, marked the start of construction. The event was hosted by Jens Kramer Mikkelsen, former Lord Mayor of Copenhagen and current Director of Urban Planning at Nrep.

To minimize CO2 emissions, Nrep has collaborated closely with progressive suppliers, including Henning Larsen architects, contractor 5E, and Søren Jensen Consulting Engineers. This collaboration has led to the replacement of traditional concrete elements with timber materials, encompassing load-bearing structures, walls, partially facades, and even smaller elements like shower stalls, elevator shafts, and stair cores.

Efforts to reduce emissions extend to the construction phase, with plans to use electric vehicles for transport as much as possible. The construction site will be covered to prevent moisture in the timber, ensuring healthier construction and lower CO2 emissions.

Throughout its lifespan, the timber building will sequester a significant amount of CO2, which would only be released if the materials were burned theoretically after 50 years. The design emphasizes easy disassembly and recycling, ensuring the building can be sustainably managed at the end of its life cycle. Additionally, the building will be nearly self-sufficient in energy, utilizing ground spikes, a heat pump, and solar panels.

Nicole van der Star, Investment Developer at Nrep, commented, “This new timber construction builds on our extensive experience in CO2 reduction from other projects like the UN17 Village in Ørestad. We are leveraging this knowledge to create an even stronger CO2 profile. The project will be open source, with blueprints and construction plans available for others to replicate or draw inspiration from.”

The multi-story building is designed using familiar construction traditions, making it easily scalable. Troels Dam Madsen, Associate Design Director at Henning Larsen, has been instrumental in considering every detail of design, functionality, and sustainability.

Troels Dam Madsen stated, “Architecture involves creating and rethinking buildings in unique and forward-looking ways. In this project, we’ve embraced a beloved typology traditionally made of heavy concrete, the Copenhagen block, and reimagined it with lightweight, biogenic materials. Our goal has been to reduce the CO2 footprint as much as possible by re-evaluating all components that depend on each other.”