In the South West I was hosted by some nice people who took me for prospecting, gave the Blue Bandit a nice clean and show me beautiful places!
Touché is a street light designed by architect Bjarne Schläger from Copenhagen, Denmark. This sophisticated light is completely carbon neutral and made from 100 per cent recyclable material. It is fitted with solar cells that completely cover the aluminium column, allowing it to generate its power from sunlight.
Touché has a sleek design, with solar panels discreetly covering the surface from top to bottom. It requires no electrical connection, so it can work both in urban and rural areas. What’s more, it produces about two to three times its consumption so it can actually contribute energy if connected to the grid.
Not only would the Touché streetlight reduce CO2 emission significantly, but it would also save municipalities a lot of money spent on the cost of maintenance and replacement of streetlights. It’s already being used in 15 countries, including Russia, Netherlands, South Korea and Saudi Arabia.
The United Nations doesn’t need much introduction. The organization is maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights since 1945.
In Copenhagen many different branches of the UN such as UNHCR, Unicef and WHO where spread over the city. After the Millennium Summit it was decided that all ten in Copenhagen based UN agencies where moved into one compound. This will not only obtain savings on economic scale but also facilitate the co-operation between the different agencies. The plans where formed in 2002, in 2005 the location Marmormolen was decided and in 2013 UN City was put into operation. The location houses around 1.300 employees from 100 different nationalities.
A bit further, in the container port, a second building (Campus 2) was constructed. This is UNICEF’s new state of the art high bay warehouse and is currently the largest humanitarian warehouse in the world.
What got my interest in this building is that it received many awards for their sustainable efforts. Amongst the awards are the European Commission’s Green Building Award for New Buildings and the platinum Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification which is one of the most popular green building certification programs used worldwide. UN City is one the most sustainable buildings of it’s kind in Scandinavia. Because of their involvement with LEED they have looked at sustainability since the drawings were being made and they looked at 5 environmental categories: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources & Indoor Environmental Quality plus an additional category: Innovation in Design. From this categories I will highlight some of the most interesting ones.
From solar panels to sea water cooling and external metal blinds to regulate light and heat. UN City shows wat can be achieved.
– UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
UN City captures around 3 million liters of rain water each year. This is enough to flush the toilets 5300 times a day. Low-flow taps and toilets reduce the water usage. Combined, the use of innovative taps, toilets and rainwater reduce the consumption of water in the building’s kitchens, toilets and showers by 61%.
Use of natural resources
Sophisticated solar shade’s on the building’s facade can be openend and closed to either trap or reflect heat from the sun. UN City is entirely ventilated with filtered, outside air. Cold sea water is used to cool the building down.
To produce electricity 1.400 solar panels are installed on the roof. The panels produce 297,000 kWh/year, this significantly reduces the electricity needed from the grid.
The roof of the UN City has been coated with a white, recyclable membrane, made from plant-based materials. The environmentally-friendly coating reflects much more sunlight than the usual dark layer.
Cycling & accessibility
To reduce pollution from transportation, UN City encourages cycling to work. There are 680 bicycle racks across the site, including 225 which are covered, and a further 115 in the basement. Fifteen showers and changing rooms are also available to freshen up after your ride. To ensure access for everyone, parking spaces for people with disabilities can be found in front of the lobby.
UN City recycles its waste wherever possible. Organic waste from the canteen is pumped through a vacuum system to a container in the basement. This food-based waste is then removed by a company that recycles it for use as fertilizer or to create biogas. Other materials, such as paper, cardboard, glass, plastic and metal, are separated in different bins to be collected and recycled by the City of Copenhagen.
The tour through the building was most interesting. I haven’t been in a building of this size and being it the United Nations was special. It was interesting to learn that a a location of this size can reduce their carbon footprint enormously.
Source: interview with Flemming Johannesen and UN City website
Building Tomorrow is an initiative by Darius Fleming and 8 other students at the VIA University in Horsens, Denmark. They where inspired by the earthship movement and especially the documentary the Garbage Warrior by Michael Reynolds. An earthship is an off-grid house made from recycled materials. Darius put a team together with the right people. Architects, designers, project leaders etc. They convinced their uni and they allowed them to build at their site. So the adventure began. It took them two years of designing and another year to build it.
To make the accommodation completely off-grid they needed a few things: electricity which comes from wind turbines and solar panels. Heating, this comes mainly from the sun. The house is designed towards the sun so it warms and cools itself. And then there is water. Water is collected by rain and filtered by plants in the building.
A small side note has to be made that the current house still takes some energy from the network as it’s not big enough to produce all the power on it’s own but version 2.0 is going to be fully off-grid.
During the process Darius and his teammates learned a lot, they had no experience and did a lot of things that hadn’t been done before. The current house is the first prototype and with their experiences from the last years and their mistakes they will build a new Building Tomorrow.
Watch the full interview with Darius for all information about this project.
Vejle: Resilient City
The Rockefeller Foundation founded “100 Resilient City’s” in 2013. Their goal is to help cities around the world to become more resilient to the physical, social and economical challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. Vejle, Denmark is one of those 100 cities.
100RC supports the adoption and incorporation of a view of resilience that includes not just the shocks—earthquakes, fires, floods, etc.—but also the stresses that weaken the fabric of a city on a day to day or cyclical basis.
Examples of these stresses include high unemployment; an overtaxed or inefficient public transportation system; endemic violence; or chronic food and water shortages. By addressing both the shocks and the stresses, a city becomes more able to respond to adverse events, and is overall better able to deliver basic functions in both good times and bad, to all populations.
The city of Velje is the only resilient city in Scandinavia and the first in Europe to come with a strategy. Other resilient cities around the world include Washington, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Rotterdam and Singapore. The CRO (Chief Resilience Officer) of Vejle is Jonas Kroustrup and I interviewed Charlotte Holm Andersen & Jette Vindum.
Charlotte & Jette showed welcomed me at the municipality in Vejle where they have an exhibition which explains the all aspects the RC Vejle is working on. The main problem of this city is water. The city is surrounded by mountains and is build around a lake. When it rains a lot the water rises and this can lead to floods. They don’t see this as a problem but as an opportunity. The exhibition is very well designed and interactive. A 3D map shows the history of the city, by sliding through the different years on an iPad the model changes form and shows the growth of the city throughout the years. Also the level of water is indicated and shows how it affects the city.
The way they handle sustainability is something to learn from. They don’t just inform or try to keep everyone to strict rules. They involve the whole community and let everyone have their say in all the projects they are working on. All the gathered input is used in the endproduct.
Green Tech Center
One of these projects is the Green Tech Center. I was welcome by an very enthusiastic woman named Jeanette. Wat really strikes me is that everyone in the community is very proud of the resilient city and all the projects.
The Green Tech Center is based on the triple helix basic: the municipality, university and private sector working closely together. Their goal is to help startups and medium sized companies grow and develop their products within the green field. The green field could be anything from energy production (wind power, geothermal), energy storage and energy usage.
Jeanette introduced me to some to the companies who are working here on innovative ideas. For example she showed Orogenic ApS who makes batteries for electric cars and there was a company who made the solar panels for the award winning new headquarter of the United Nations in Copenhagen.
Before I departed to Sweden I had one last meeting in Copenhagen, this time at the United Nations. They have their national headquarters in CPH and the building was finished just three years ago. It grabbed my attention because it won many awards and last week in Vejle I was introduced to the company who made the solar panels for this building.
The UN City building is located right next to a river which provides a natural divider, the building’s protection is high. There is a separate entrance for staff and visitors and all your belongings go through a x-ray scanner, just like a airport.
How cool is this Plug Me In project?The Dutchman, Wiebe Wakker has since March 2016 been traveling around Europe by…
I was welcomed by Flemming Johanessen. He gave me a tour through the building. The building is based on the UN’s global goals for sustainable development. It’s 50% more sustainable then an average office and 30% of it’s electricity comes from the 1.400 solar panels on the roof which produces 297.000KWh annually. A more in-depth recap will follow later on this page.
After the meeting it was time to head to country number nine: Sweden. To get there you need to take a ferry or pass a bridge. Both cost around 50 Euro so the last days I was looking for a solution to get to the other side. Luckily Mads (where I was staying Saturday) had a great idea. He had the BroBizz pass, it’s a small scanner which you place on your window and when you near the tollbooth it scans it and lets you pass. Mads told me that the last time he wanted to cross the bridge it didn’t work, a woman had to come and would scan the pass manually and let him continue. Mads had the idea to give me the pass, when I would be on the other side he would call the operator and tell them he needs a new one. If they would send him a new pass I could keep the pass, if not I would have to send it back.
I crossed the bridge without any problems and arrived in Sweden, literally the first thing I saw when I passed the border was an IKEA, very typical. As they always have free charging spots and WiFi I decided to work there for a bit. Later I would go into Malmö.
Malmö is famous (at least to my knowledge) for only one thing: the birth- and living place of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. At the IKEA I googled his living address and it was very easy to find so I decided to have a look. It was a huge pink mansion right at the beach. According to his biography Zlatan and his wife liked this house so much that they needed to have it. He left a note for the owners “We want your house, you might think this is a joke but I am serious, we will make sure that you are happy”. They offered the 30 million Kronen, which was four times more then it originally cost and they agreed to that.
Unfortunately Zlatan was not at home, they told me he had to play some tournament in France? Haven’t heard about that.
My sleeping place for tonight was still unsure, I had the other days until Friday fixed but there was not really an offer in the area around Malmö. I posted a message on Facebook to get some help and was waiting for replies. I had one girl who offered me food in Helsingborg so I decided to go to her and make my plan from there.
Maria found me because of a friend in Holland, Annemieke shared a post about plug me in. Maria and Annemieke knew each other from Australia, where they travelled in 2010. Maria is an artist and author. Her paintings are actually really good. She hopes to make a living of this later but also plans to study for more certainty. Maria made chicken for me, chicken is always a good idea.
On the call on Facebook I received many reactions but all of them could either host me later this week or in a place which was not nearby. I had to look for a place where I could charge the car and sleep too. The IKEA seemed like a good option. It was quite and dark there but at 4am they turned on the lights which woke me up, which wasn’t bad as I had the interview with Radio 1 at 4.15am. I found out that I didn’t had service on my phone so I couldn’t receive the call, bad luck, I hope they found a replacement.
Day 83- Sunday June 5
Sunday was a national holiday in Denmark. In Roskilde I had breakfast with Mads, drove a bit on his e-bike and then went to Copenhagen. I met with Valerie, I knew her from back home and she just moved here this week. After her study Hotel Management she went traveling for a few months, came back and wanted to do something else. She ended up working here as sales manager for an international company.
Last week I contacted Anders who offered me a place to stay here in Copenhagen. He quickly replied that he was not home this day but a friend of him, Jesper would welcome me and make dinner. Great deal.
Jesper and Anders are close friends and know each other from when they lived in Russia. They are both obsessed with the Baltic states and they have a blog about that. Recently they traveled through those countries with… an electric car! They did it with my smaller brother, the VW E-UP. Jesper showed me a lot of pictures and it was really interesting to see their adventure, especially because I expect that those countries will be the harder part of my trip.
As it was a national holiday there where no shops open and Jesper forgot a bit about that so he got use some pizza’s. Us is Jesper, Ayda and me. Ayda is Ander’s roommate and is a architect from Lithuania.
Day 84 – Monday June 6
Today was a workday. Whenever I have to chance I always try to work. As I had an apartment for myself (Ayda went to work, Jesper left) I took the opportunity to do as much as I can. I’m going into a new country soon so that requires some planning. I do research about sustainable initiatives in a country, send every of them a personal request, need to learn about the traffic regulations, contact people where I can stay, make a press list with Meltwater etc etc.
The only appointment today was with Bjarne Schlager. He is a Danish architect and developed the Touche Streetlight. It’s a streetlight powered by the sun and it works off-grid. During the day a battery in the bottom of the streetlight collects energy to use it at night to give light. Also a WiFi device is installed so people can use internet and the developer can see the status of the light.
The lights can be found in many European countries and also in the Middle-East. Later you can find a complete recap about the meeting on this website.
At around 11pm Anders returned home from his trip to the Ukraine. He is a very enthusiastic guy and very interested in my project and especially about the car. I showed Anders how the car was made and shared some tech specs.
Today was sightseeing day. Copenhagen has been on my bucketlist for quite a while. Yesterday I was talking about my trip and I realized that this has been the most Northern part I have ever been, crazy because it’s so close to Holland. I’m going to extend this record a lot as I have decided to travel to the North cape. But first Copenhagen.
It really is a beautiful city. It’s big but it doesn’t feel like that, people are relaxed, possibly also because it was 27 degrees today. I started at the most touristic attraction: the statue of the little mermaid. It has been there since 1913 and was created by Edvard Eriksen, of course based upon the story by the Dane Hans Christian Andersen. The mermaid has been decapitated a couple of times, blown up with explosives and been put on a burqa as a protest against Turkey’s application to join the EU.
The statue was commissioned in 1909 by the son of the founder of Carlsberg. It’s considerably smaller as I aspected but placed higher then the hundreds of Japanese people taking pictures with their selfy sticks.
My favorite part is Nyhavn, a fishing harbor dating back 300 years ago with many bars, restaurants in colored houses. An elder Australian couple came to me when I was having a brake to ask me for directions. We had some smalltalk and I explained them what I was doing. They are from Sydney and offered me a place to stay if I’m there, great to have a place to stay at the finish line.
Around 5 I started to feel tired and decided to go to my next stop. It was in Roskilde, 30km outside of CPH and famous for it’s festival. Mads was my host and I already met him at the FDEL meeting last Sunday in Vejle. He has a big house right at the Fjord. From his garden you can walk on a pier where he has a big boat. The sights here are amazing. I could sleep in a small house in his garden.
Mads is very interested in sustainability and e-mobility. He has a background as engineer ands just founded his own company where he combines all of that. For companies he creates sustainable solutions such as heating and energy production.
His own his is carbon neutral too, he creates electricity with solar panels and a heat pump takes the warmth out of the water and creates heat in the house. He has two daughters. The oldest one, Sofie, was just about to go on a trip to London as a preparation for her study. She will going to visit the House of Unions and see David Cameron speak. His youngest daughter Emma is a fashion blogger and has 16.000 followers on Instagram, very impressive as she is only 15.
After dinner and an ice cream in the old Viking harbor we drove to a testsite from Vestas, a Danish windmill producer. They just installed a new windmill which has 4 mills attached to it. This one was “small” and if all the test succeed they built a bigger one which could produce 4×16 Gigawatt.
Almost everything that Mads has is electric, also his bike. In Denmark they have a few rules for e-bikes but Mads wants to go faster then allowed so he tweaked it a bit. He bike has a topspeed of 50km/h which is very fast for a bike. I drove it and it is cool to drive it. When you step just a little bit you already go fast, it’s like you use a turboboost with Mario Kart.
For breakfast I had this tasty but a bit strange meal. It’s normally eaten as a dessert but for breakfast it’s fine too. It’s called Koldskål, a mix between buttermilk and cream and they put tiny cake’s in it. After you finished that you get some kind of strawberry sauce and I thought it would be nice to mix it but they told me I have to leave Denmark now as it’s an insult to mix it, weird people here.
I went to Copenhagen. I had been looking forward to this as I saw many great pictures and heard good stories about this city. Today was not a sightseeing day though, my first stop was at the Dutch Embassy. I send them an mail a few weeks ago to let them no I was traveling through Denmark. They invited me for lunch and to recharge the car. They were very nice and thought of ways to help me. They send mails to other embassies in countries were I’m going to, to ask them if they could be at help. They let me do a pitch on video which they uploaded on their Facebook page and I already got some new invitations.
Then I visited to State of Green, right in the middle of the center. It is an organization which is 50% government and 50% private owned, mainly focussing on marketing campaigns to promote sustainability in Denmark. Iver told me a lot about what the country has been doing since the oil crisis in the 70’s to make it more sustainable. The city of Copenhagen has the goal to be carbon neutral by 2025 and the county has to same plan to do so by 2050. That seems like a long time but to ban fossil fuels and come with alternatives takes time and effort. You will find and extended review about this meeting later on this website.
My next stop was at Martin Messers place. He is a member of the FDEL, the organization that had this meeting last Sunday where I spoke. Martin took me into town to meet Willet Kempton, he calls himself the “father of V2G”. V2G stands for ‘Vehicle To Grid’ which is a system where electric cars can provide energy to the grid. Willet has invented this system in 1997, pretty crazy considering I heart about EV’s just 2 years ago. According to him this is the way to go to a fully sustainable energy system.
A problem for today was that I didn’t had a place to sleep yet, also not for tomorrow night. Martin posted a message on his Facebook asking people if they could host me and quickly received a reply from Mads that I could stay at his place on Saturday. Just before the meeting with Willet someone contacted me though Facebook that I could stay at his place. His name was Poul and he lived in Uvelse, 30km outside of Copenhagen.
Poul is IT specialist and Tesla driver, the youngest one I ever met, just 28. He lives with his girlfriend Laila in this house which they recently bought. Very friendly, welcoming and interested people. They just went for a road trip to Spain with their Tesla. While charging at a supercharger they met a Dutch / Spanish guy with a YouTube channel called El Holandés Errante (The Flying Dutchman). He wants to buy a Tesla with a caravan to live completely off-grid and doesn’t need to pay any subscriptions. Because you can charge for free with a Tesla it would be possible but kind of an adventure.
When I woke up in my private guest room in Strib Soren already had breakfast waiting for me. We said goodbye and the destination for today was Herstedøster, just 7km outside of Copenhagen. It was a 201km drive and to be sure that I will make it I did a pitstop in Ringsted. Lasse, the CEO of Greenow offered me a place to plug at his office. In the morning he send me an email that his daughter was born last night so he was not in the office but I could just go there to charge.
I charged for an hour and a half and did the remaining 45km to Herstedøster.
I was welcomed by Ida and Erik. Erik is Dutch and moved to Denmark a while ago and doesn’t want to return to Holland because he likes it to much. He has a technical background and works for an international company who is realizing a new signaling system for railroads in Denmark which is the new standard for Europe.
Ida is Danish and speaks Dutch too. She has a degree as zookeeper with a specialization in exotic animals. Because there is a huge oversupply in qualified people in this sector she couldn’t find a job. Ida started a two year Environment Technology study and works on a children’s book about sustainability, eco-systems, plants & animals in her spare time. She wants to make it special with a augmented reality app for more experience.
Erik is involved in a student exchange program called YFU and the last two weeks 15 students from the US and Singapore had been in Denmark to visit several sustainable energy projects. Erik invited them to come over when I was there so they could learn about electric cars and e-mobility. They where very interested in what I was doing and it was cool to meet these people. Now I also got some contacts in Singapore from when I’m there!
I reached Wim who is the mechanic of the car. I explained him the problems I had yesterday and told me that the button of the heater probably was turned on, which was right. So there was nog problem with the car, the noise was there because the heater was on, stupid me.
The group invited Erik and me to go out for dinner in Copenhagen. We went to the street food market. It’s and indoor market with food from all around the world. Indian, Mexican, Danish, American, Italian, they had everything. I choose for a “fatburger” which was a good choice.
The market was located next to the water, there was a bridge of which I thought it was closed but when I inspected it I saw there was a part in the middle missing. Apparently they ran out of money and now there are two ramps on both sides, they don’t know when it’s going to be finished. It’s a bridge to far for the Danish.
Erik drives an electric car too and has a wallbox installed at home. It was with a cable attached so I couldn’t charge my car with type 2 and used the regular plug on 16A. This would fully charge my car by the next morning.