Stenløse South

Stenlose South is the largest municipal effort in Denmark in an urban area developed after a comprehensive sustainability concept. Egedal municipality (then Stenløse) purchased the area of 73 hectares and is managing the planning, land development and sale of building plots for 750 new mixed-ownership homes. The area is through the amendments and local plans designated for mixed housing and recreational nature areas. 

Air-photo Stenloese South 2008
Air-photo Stenloese South 2008(from Stenloese South-web

There is planning, land development and sale of plots for the construction of mixed housing (single family houses, high-density/low-rise housing for senior citizens, terraced houses, social housing), a public daycare center, a communal house and a grocery store.

In addition, 25 hectares is designated as a larger natural recreational area, called the “Common”, which preserves the status of land zone, although it is located in the middle of the settlement.

The area is deliberately located in close proximity to a S-train station in order to reduce congestion, to attract young families, hold on to long-term residents from the single family houses in new senior housing, and is planned with regards to social contact of social contact, easy accessibility, views to the nature and respect for terrain variation. All key functions such as town hall, library, shopping center, schools, gymnasiums etc., are located at a distance of 1-1 ½ kilometers and can be reached by path networks.

The area represents a new policy on urban density, having plots designated for 3-storey buildings and 4-storey apartment buildings.


The specific requirements on energy, environment and nature are described in amendments, the local plans, easements and guiding manuals for developers. There are the following requirements:

Local Agenda-21

The former Stenloese municipality had an active, but not very dominant local Agenda 21 work, which before 1996 was rooted in experimentation around employment projects such as an organic visitors garden, sustainable demonstration constructions, organic canteen, organic garden centre, etc

From here originated the idea to explore ways to incorporate environmental requirements in construction, which first manifested itself in attempts to provide guidance on environmental issues in reviews of building licenses and in municipal buildings.

Unlike many other municipalities, where Agenda21 employees often sit in a satellite location outside the municipality’s administration, the Agenda21 in Stenlose municipality was given a more central location with reference to the board of directors and with the authority to put forward suggestions, formulate drafts for planning documents and conducts reviews of the environmental contribution from other administrations.

This has facilitated that the municipality under the auspices of the Local Agenda21 has been able to develop the necessary competences (which at the time was present in the construction industry), as a guarantor that proposed initiatives were both realistic and feasible.

Through the formulation of goal-oriented and concrete strategies environmental, energy and climate issues have been rooted in both politically and administratively, which have been crucial to the completion of the Stenløse South project.

Agenda 21 center

Sustainability and energy were a theme of cooperation in Bycirklen which at that time consisted of 9 municipalities in the Frederiks’ Sound finger (now Ballerup, Egedal, Frederikssund). Under the auspices of Bycirklen the municipalities participated in the work of the local energy conservation committee, the establishing of Bycirklen’s Energy office, the development of common ‘green’ accounting and cooperation on the concerted local Agenda 21 centre where 5 of the then 9 municipalities were members.

The centre continued the strategy of focusing on areas where the conversion of reorganization of existing municipal management and planning could lead to actual energy reductions and environmental improvements. The 8 employees at the centre prepared plans and strategies for municipalities, but could also give advice with concrete and action oriented proposals. Employees at the centre developed their competence on sustainability through this and also through the sale of consultancy services and carrying out projects for example for Copenhagen Energy, Ministry of the Environment, the Danish Energy Agency, City and Housing Ministry etc. 

This collaboration provided new opportunities for strategic development and supply of concrete knowledge and inspired Stenlose municipality to incorporate sustainable construction as part of the local plan already from 2002. There were aimed at a coordinated review of building licenses, local planning, sectoral development and other policy areas.

An integrated Plan and Agenda 21 strategy confirmed that “We need as a planning authority, land owner, developer and building authority to put in a special effort to reduce the consumption of heat, electricity and water and avoid xenobiotic substances” (Plan strategy; Development with consideration, 2002).

The objectives were tested in a large number of cases with both private and municipal buildings but the overall picture was that it is extremely difficult to establish and implement requirements of energy and environment without the use of legally binding agreements.

One of the many planning tools being used was the new requirements of strategic environmental assessments of all plans and programs. The Agenda 21 centre prepared an environmental assessment which was based on a strictly 0-scenario and set feasible alternatives to the total impacts from an expansion of Stenlose South. The environmental assessment became Stenløse city council’s principal basis for a discussion of the requirements possible to establish. The proposals for these were defined, concrete and measurable.

It resulted in a greater political commitment to the project in a municipality that had not been accustomed to interfere with decisions of construction material used, etc., as long as it complied with the Building Regulations’ minimum requirements. The administration was now given the task of designing a practical and precise formulation of the above environmental requirements for the registration of easements, land development, promotional materials, local plans, etc. Stenlose South was initiated by a unanimous decision by the city council.

A competition for a master plan for the area was won by Bystrup, and hereafter amendments, framework local plans, easements and local plans were prepared to ensure that the agreed requirements could be met at all levels.

Economic support for the project

A so-called Concerto project from the EU has received 25 million DKK for a European exchange of experience and initiation of product development at several Danish companies. The project is in the application based on the Stenlose South project and funds for the construction of a CO2-neutral combined heat and power plant have also been allocated. Egedal municipality is responsible for the formal project management, but the municipality has not received financial support for development of the planning basis, information materials or internal working procedures. The Concerto project is organizationally separate from the municipal development project in Stenlose South.

Different suppliers

Stenløse South is not a demonstration or experimental construction, but a market-based urban development in the scale 1:1. For the single building plots it is up to the individual purchasers to liaise with contractors, architects, builders and possibly standard house companies to draw, plan and execute the construction. There is therefore a spreading of the planning of the construction and completion among a broad range of contractors and standard house companies.

Municipal material

The municipalities planning department has prepared detailed material with technical requirements, they communicate regularly with developers, builders and buyers where they specifically authorize the use of materials, expound technical building standards, etc. It has required a lot of resources to implement controls on reviews of building licenses. Without this competence and without external resources to implement such a pioneering project, the project had perhaps evolved differently. 

The requirements on energy and environment are generally set out for Egedal municipality; the municipal council has since decided that local plans for settlements in the future will be required to meet the standards in the low energy class 1.

Af Jesper Holm, Inger Stauning og Bent Søndergård, RUC, 2008

This web-site is edited by Roskilde University in cooperation with Technical University of Denmark, Danish Building Research Institute, Technological Institute, PP-consult, Syd-tek and Bjørn Axelsen ApS. Coordinator: Inger Stauning, RUC, is (a) ruc .dk