Climate and the environment

In Aarhus, waste is a resource, and the heat produced is distributed efficiently.

In the City of Aarhus, waste is either used for heat production or recycled. Waste management and heat production and transmission are two central elements in the municipality’s environmental action plan and the overriding objective of the climate plan – being carbon-neutral by 2030.

Waste is a resource, not a problem

The municipality of Aarhus collects approximately 220,000 tonnes of household waste, garden and park waste and construction waste per year. The incinerator facility burns around 42% of the collected waste, producing electricity and warm water for the district heating system. 16% of the heat consumed by the district heating system is produced by the incinerator facility. Approximately 56% of the collected waste is sent to recycling. Only 2% of the waste ends as landfill, and around 0,1% is treated as dangerous waste material.

Recycling sites, recycling stations and refuse containers

The high recycling rate is largely dependent on citizen involvement. The citizens are regarded as customers and are consulted before new initiatives are implemented. Following consultations with customers, almost 1000 semi-buried containers have been established in Aarhus for waste sorting.

Other successful examples within this area include the 1.2 million annual visits by citizens to the city’s six recycling stations and the approx. 200 recycling sites near large residential areas where the citizens handle the waste sorting themselves.

District heating: A vision of being CO2-neutral by 2030

The Department of Waste and Heating has prepared a number of reports mapping how heat production in the region can be made CO2-neutral.

Aarhus is leading the way in Denmark in this area by identifying the tools to be used to achieve the goal of being CO2-neutral within the field of heating.

District heating – collaboration on transmission

The district heating system is unique to Denmark. In the region around Aarhus, an extensive distribution network has been developed with both public and private sector heat producers, thus ensuring an optimal effect of the production.

The region’s large CHP plants supply both heat and electricity to businesses and citizens, with the co-generation of power and district heating resulting in an improved fuel efficiency in excess of 80 per cent.

As the wind blows

Denmark is expanding its wind farms which produce CO2-neutral electricity. The disadvantage of electricity is that it cannot be stored like heat.

In the coming years, the flexible distribution of district heating will therefore play a decisive role for the optimal utilisation of wind power.

The Department of Environment and Energy is a dynamic department with a large number of official functions in relation to the development, use and protection of nature and the environment.

Professional beacons

The Aarhus City Council has drawn up a set of political environmental and climate goals, and all plans and policies in the City of Aarhus must consider their potential environmental impact.

The Aarhus City Council has drawn up the following goals: a doubling of the areas of natural beauty, countryside development which supports drinking water quality, and the overriding climate goal: carbon neutrality by 2030.

Professional strengths

The City of Aarhus plays a pioneering role in relation to the environment, so the Department of Environment and Energy requires a strong organisation.

The department has already influenced national agricultural legislation and possesses in-depth knowledge of the players in the area. As a public authority which both purchases and monitors services within a large number of areas in the municipality, the Department of Environment and Energy works closely with other municipal departments. The department focuses on professional development, for example through its collaboration with Aarhus University as well as private businesses, and is also very open to international networking.

Nature use

The Department of Environment and Energy collaborates with the Department of Sport and Leisure to ensure that citizens have access to the woods and the water around the city. One of the goals is thus high-quality bathing water along the coast, also close to the city.

Aarhus is a large city with reasonable air quality, but particle pollution must be reduced further. To combine use and protection, the department cooperates with the Department for Children and Young People to teach nature protection to the youngest citizens.

Challenges

One of the major challenges for the department is converting the open landscape around the city to achieve a doubling of the areas of natural beauty, among other things through comprehensive afforestation which protects the groundwater, increases the recreational value and improves carbon absorption. The zone between town and countryside must be converted into more recreational areas to reduce the recreational impact on the woods.

Climate – carbon-neutral

Carbon neutrality by 2030 is a goal for the City of Aarhus. The Aarhus City Council wants Aarhus to lead the way in implementing a sustainable switch to a fossil-free society.

Since 2008, the municipality has worked on a number of climate action plans and has achieved many results in collaboration with citizens and the business community. One project is Aa+, where the energy renovation of municipal buildings is resulting in major carbon savings. It is possible to follow the climate efforts at, for example, Go Green with Aarhus.

Climate change and green excursion spots

In Denmark, climate change is projected to lead to more intense rainfall and rising sea levels. This prospect makes the provision of flood protection, especially for low-lying and densely populated areas, increasingly urgent.

An inexpensive and intelligent solution is to create ‘time and space for water’ in rural catchments – Egå Engsø, a lake of 115 hectares surrounded by 165 hectares of wetlands, is an example of this.

Aarhus is proud of its water and looks after this resource carefully. The tap water in Aarhus is almost 100-year-old pure groundwater. Aarhusians enjoy top-quality drinking water, clean bathing water in the Bay of Aarhus and clean water running through the city.

Organic spring water in the tap

High-quality water requires protection. The Aarhus City Council’s water quality objective is clear: All inhabitants in Aarhus should have access to naturally clean groundwater, also in the future. Protecting the groundwater against pesticides requires a lot of hard and dedicated work as well as close dialogue with and supervision of the agricultural sector. The City of Aarhus does not use pesticides in vulnerable groundwater areas.


High-quality drinking water requires secure distribution

Aarhus Vand A/S – a municipal water company owned by the City of Aarhus – employs state-of-the-art technological solutions. Controlled and monitored from its headquarters, all nine waterworks are unmanned. The CRS (control, regulation and supervision) solution is being extended to also cover the actual water mains. The mains water system comprises almost 100 wells where the mains pressure, flow and any sign of pollution are monitored.

The loss of mains water is, incidentally, very low, approx. only 5-7 per cent. Despite the high water quality and very secure distribution, a litre of water costs less than EUR 0.01.


All wastewater treated

All wastewater passes through a high-purity treatment process. The entire city is covered by a sewer system following a clear wastewater plan, and large overflow basins prevent stormwater, and thus untreated water, from flowing into the Bay of Aarhus.

Aarhus Vand A/S has developed new monitoring systems in collaboration with, among others, DHI (Danish Hydraulic Institute) to maintain the high level of water quality, also if climate change results in increased rainfall.

Clean water running through the city

Everyone loves water! And following the opening-up of the river Aarhus Å and the establishment of the Aarhus Docklands, there will be plenty of water for citizens to enjoy.

The goal is that all water should be of beach-water quality, also in the city centre.