Peak Performance

Peak Performance

A Danish power plant that converts trash to energy just happens to also be a year-round ski slope. 

Welcome to CopenHill in Copenhagen, billed as the cleanest waste-to-energy power plant in the world. But it’s another aspect of the facility that has really captured people’s imagination: the 400m artificial ski slope on its roof.

A BIG idea 

Designed by Danish architecture firm BIG, CopenHill is a 90m tall structure with a blocky facade constructed from 1.2m and 3.3m wide aluminium bricks. Inside is a waste-treatment and energy-production tech capable of converting 440,000 tonnes of waste into clean energy annually –sufficient to provide clean electricity and district heating for 150,000 homes each year. 

Thanks to technology that removes pollutants from the exhaust, the roof area can be utilised for public activities. BIG decided to put the space to a unique use. 

As well as the ski slope, CopenHill also features tree-lined hiking trails and an 85m high artificial climbing wall – described as the world’s tallest – on its facade. For those who prefer après-ski activities, there’s even a rooftop bar and a calendar of events such as jazz and wine evenings. 

“CopenHill is so clean that we have been able to turn its building mass into the bedrock of the social life of the city,” says BIG founder Bjarke Ingels. “Its facade is climbable, its roof is hikeable and its slopes are skiable.” 

“What if sustainable cities and buildings actually are not about all the things you can’t do, but all the things you can do?”

Get hedonistic 

CopenHill is the embodiment of a term that Ingels coined: hedonistic sustainability. 

“Sustainability is always seen in the context of this urgent situation,” says Ingels. “The world is going down the drain; to be sustainable we can’t have the quality of life we are having now. It’s almost this protestant idea of taking cold showers in the morning, like it has to hurt to do good. 

“But what if sustainable cities and buildings actually are not about all the things you can’t do, but all the things you can do? What if a sustainable city or sustainable building actually has more opportunities, is more enjoyable, than the non-sustainable one? 

“Hedonistic sustainability teaches you that by thinking about sustainability, you’re also thinking about a city that’s more exciting and more fun to live in.” 

Copenhagen is aiming to become the world’s first carbon-neutral city by 2025. 


The slope itself is made of Neveplast, a synthetic turf with a coefficient friction equal to snow.

Like to know more? 

To watch a video about CopenHill, click here. 

Ecolibrium – November 2022 cover

This article appears in ecolibrium’s November 2022 issue

Want to read more?


Click here to view our archive of issues and features.


Become an AIRAH member or subscribe to Ecolibrium.

Mair takes top Testo job

Mair takes top Testo job

Testo has appointed Jason Mair as its new managing director, and says the team is looking forward to continued success and partnerships utilising his leadership and extensive experience.Mair was formerly head of sales for SICK Pty Ltd, responsible for sales across...

ASHRAE issues global agenda

ASHRAE issues global agenda

The final report from the ASHRAE Global HVAC&R Summit held in Istanbul, Turkey last October has been released by the US‑based engineering association.“The Summit was designed to create an environment of collaboration and strategic dialogue to address the critical...

WRAP artist – meet Robert Holovka, M.AIRAH

WRAP artist – meet Robert Holovka, M.AIRAH

Ecolibrium shoots the breeze with the Melbourne-based director and founder of WRAP Engineering, Robert Holovka, M.AIRAH.Specialty Multi-discipline engineer, specialising in mechanical engineering. Passions The initial concept phase of any building design – when...

Wood that it could

Wood that it could

By embracing the Passivhaus standard, a new apartment building in Palma, Spain, classifies as an nZEB (nearly zero energy building).   Paseo Mallorca 15 is a 10-apartment block in the main thoroughfare of Palma, capital of the Spanish island of Mallorca (Majorca), not...

The comfort of family

The comfort of family

The development of a sophisticated control system for an iconic home in Melbourne’s leafy suburbs has not only provided greater comfort to its occupants but broken new ground in predictive climate control systems. Sean McGowan reports on a house that has been home to...

Trish Hyde named as new AIRAH CEO

Trish Hyde named as new AIRAH CEO

A seamless transition to the Institute’s new Chief Executive is in place. Following a detailed recruitment process, the AIRAH Board has appointed Trish Hyde to the role of AIRAH Chief Executive. Hyde replaces Tony Gleeson, M.AIRAH, who announced his impending...

Reliable Controls advertisement