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1970 - 1980: Focus on the environment

Bridges, tunnels, roads, and buildings have long been the firm's trademark, but now there is also focus on energy and environmental consultancy services. And, once again, the firm changes its name…

Christen Ostenfeld retires in 1972. The following year, the company acquires its new name "COWIconsult, Rådgivende Ingeniører A/S", ("COWIconsult, Consulting Engineers and Planners A/S") when ownership is transferred to a foundation chaired by Wriborg Jønson.

The company's new name is devised by combining the initials of its two founders. By 1979, COWIconsult has more than 800 staff, and a third of its turnover is generated outside of Denmark.

Change of profile

During the 1970s, COWIconsult gradually changes its profile. In 1974, Denmark passes the world's first environment protection act, and COWIconsult is the first private enterprise to offer environmental consulting services.

The new Environmental Protection Act includes stringent demands for the reduction of pollution, and municipal waste management and wastewater treatment processes are suddenly thrust into the limelight.

At the same time, new computer technology means that it is possible to analyse data and create models that may be used to study anything from wastewater emissions in the sea, to the smoke in the atmosphere, or noise in a residential area.

Focus on the energy sector

The oil crises of 1973 and 1979 shift global focus onto the energy sector. Denmark says no to nuclear power and decides to exploit North Sea gas reserves through a newly established Danish natural gas system.

In 1979, Denmark passes the new Heat Supply Act, developed by the Danish Energy Authority with assistance from COWIconsult. With the introduction of the Act, all municipalities and counties in the country begin to draw up plans for achieving the most effective heat supply.

The comprehensive planning exercise involved mapping actual heat demand, streamlining the district heating supply, expanding the existing combined heat and power (CHP) supply, effectively exploiting waste heat and biomass, and determining, in socio-economic terms, the best forms of heat supply for municipalities.

Alternative energy

The oil crises spark a need to find alternative energy sources, so the company develops its new CHP and district heating technologies to exploit energy at lower temperatures.

COWIconsult plays a central role in all these activities as a consultant to the authorities, to utility companies, to R&D institutions and to industry.

The company is in a position to integrate the engineering aspects with the issues of environment and cost-effectiveness, and to combine technological innovations with its invaluable experiences in planning and implementation.

Comprehensive regional solutions

COWIconsult helps authorities to clarify the framework law and provides assistance with environmental planning. Waste and water treatment processes are also planned as a part of comprehensive regional solutions.

In the same way, the company succeeds in combining the design of landfills with more long-term energy planning considerations and material flow analyses.

Pioneers in building renovation

Rapid urbanisation in the 1960s leads to a boom in house building, and large housing estates suddenly spring up in the suburbs. Prefabs are a new concept but the building physics have not, as yet, been fully understood – by the mid 70s, the flat roofs have started to rot.

With help from the Danish Building Research Institute and the Technical University of Denmark, however, COWIconsult soon leads the field in building renovation and the company is involved in the restoration of several housing estates in, among other places, the Copenhagen suburbs of Albertslund and Brøndby. The company goes on to develop a software package known as Caretaker for long-term planning maintenance.

Excellent position abroad

COWIconsult's work in international development planning activities takes off. The company collaborates with the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme to complete projects in developing countries: a transport study of the Senegal River, a 15km six-lane motorway in Nigeria – half of it on a bridge across a lagoon – a 700km motorway in Saudi Arabia, and countless traffic and town planning projects in Nigeria, Kenya and Swaziland.

LAST UPDATED: 20.07.2017