Copenhagen: Green City, Green Parking


Parking lot at the Technical University of Denmark in Lyngby. Image courtesy of Thomas Oles

Parking lot at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Image courtesy of Thomas Oles

Parking lot at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, Denmark. Image courtesy of Thomas Oles


Denmark is renowned for its progressiveness in safeguarding the natural environment. It is the world’s leader in wind energy production, and the country made headlines in spring 2012 when the government announced the goal of having 100 percent of its energy supplied by renewables by 2050. Environmental policy is progressive at both the national and municipal level in Denmark; the nation’s capital, Copenhagen, is recognized as one of the world’s most environmentally friendly cities. Copenhagen is aiming to be carbon-neutral by 2025, and its miles of bike lanes, well-integrated transit network, and exceptionally clean harbor have resulted in what Forbes magazine calls a “Green Sheen.” In 2010, Copenhagen adopted a policy requiring green roofs for all new buildings with roof slopes less than 30 degrees.

There is a lesser known way in which Copenhagen is also an environmental leader: its green parking lots. At the University of Copenhagen, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, and Technical University of Denmark in Lyngby (15 kilometers north of Copenhagen), landscaped parking lots with permeable pavers mimic natural hydrological functions, and provide attractive entrances to these institutions for visitors and students arriving by car. Compared to blacktop parking lots, lots with porous surface reduce the amount of pollutants/contaminants in runoff and reduce runoff volume, which improves water quality and helps prevent flooding. And lots with permeable pavers help keep surface and surrounding air temperatures down.

In the United States, Peninsula College recently reconstructed and replanted the parking lot at its main campus in Port Angeles, Washington, in an effort to green the lot. Designer Walter Schacht noted, “Aesthetically, surface lots should look like landscaped areas with space for parking.”