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Skiing for sustainability


12 October 2019 at 12:00 pm
Maggie Coggan
A Danish rubbish-to-clean-energy plant is attracting global attention with its new ski slope


Maggie Coggan | 12 October 2019 at 12:00 pm


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Skiing for sustainability
12 October 2019 at 12:00 pm

A Danish rubbish-to-clean-energy plant is attracting global attention with its new ski slope

A 1,500 foot ski slope has opened to the public on the roof of a Copenhagen clean energy plant, featuring tree-lined hiking trails, a rooftop bar, fitness area and the tallest artificial climbing wall in the world.  

CopenHill, known as Amager Bakke in Danish, opened in 2017, and can burn 440,000 tons of non-recyclable rubbish each year to generate enough heat and energy to power 150,000 homes in the area. 

It’s hoped the building will push along Copenhagen’s campaign to become the first carbon neutral city in the world by 2025

Bjarke Ingels, founder of the Danish architect firm behind the project, BIG, said the project was a clear example of “hedonistic sustainability”. 

“A sustainable city is not only better for the environment – it is also more enjoyable for the lives of its citizens,” Ingels said. 

Around 300 truckloads of rubbish arrives at the plant each morning to be burnt, travelling from as far as the United Kingdom.  

Some environmental groups say waste-to-energy plants aren’t entirely clean because burning waste does emit carbon dioxide, but the trash the plant burns would otherwise end up in a landfill and emit methane, which is up to 35 times as potent as carbon dioxide.  

The 4.4 million-square-foot plant also releases less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than if fossil fuels were burnt.   

Despite being on top of a power plant, the building doesn’t produce a smell. The steam that comes out of the plant is filtered for pollutants and the rooftop garden is designed to suck up lingering particles in the air. 

The new ski slope is open all year round and doesn’t need snow to run, with a synthetic grass that is slippery enough to ski down lining the roof instead. 

Ingels said that after a decade working on the project, he was excited to see what was next for architecture that could make a difference to the world. 

“To me CopenHill is a perfect example of the world changing power of architecture. That we have the power to give form to the future that we want to live in,” Ingels said. 

“Standing at the peak of this human-made mountain that we have spent the last decade creating – makes me curious and excited to see what ideas this summit may spark in the minds of future generations.”


Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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