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Towards a greener port

Mads Søgaard is an environmental engineer at the Port of Aarhus. He is constantly keeping many balls in the air to ensure that the port's sustainability strategy is on track. It requires the ability to maintain an overview as well as good management skills to get many partners to work together to create a port that is a leader in sustainability.

Only a month passed before Mads Søgaard could go from new graduate in Environmental Management and Sustainability from Aalborg University to a job as an environmental engineer at the Port of Aarhus. Shortly before, the port had launched its ambitious vision of becoming the most sustainable port in the Baltic Sea region, a challenge that attracted the new engineering graduate.

− It was one of the very first applications I sent after I graduated. I had actually considered doing a PhD in Aalborg, but I could already see at the interview that the work here would be really exciting, he says.

He and a colleague are the team at the Port of Aarhus tasked with calculating and reporting the port's CO2 footprint. This requires an overview and insight because the CO2 footprint is mapped throughout the port's value chain. Although the port owns cranes, land and berths, it is the companies at the port that produce the bulk of emissions.

− When we look at the port's climate footprint, most of it naturally comes from our partners in the transport industry. So a large part of my focus is on helping them become more sustainable and creating the framework for us to find the right path together, says Mads Søgaard.

− We take companies by the hand and try to influence their sustainability journey rather than make demands. It can be storage of surplus heat, sustainable construction, a biogas station or installation of fast chargers for electric cars. It's very much about ensuring that there are sustainable fuels for transport companies, he explains.

Broad expertise 

The Port of Aarhus is one of the first ports in the world to be approved by Science Based Targets. This initiative, launched by organizations such as the UN and the World Wildlife Fund, aims to support companies in realizing their climate goals based on scientific facts. The port’s recognition is based on the extensive CO2 reporting that Mads Søgaard works with.

When we started implementing a strategy with a heavy focus on sustainability in 2019, it was important to us that the engineer we hired should have broad and up-to-date expertise. The area is developing rapidly, and with few resources we must be able to cover a wide range of issues and continuously acquire more knowledge. It’s a challenge but we found the right blend of all the elements we need in Mads.


Mads Søgaard believes that his education made it easy for him to slip into the role of project manager in such a dynamic workplace like the Port of Aarhus.

− The whole way you work with problem-based and project-based learning at Aalborg University is very much in line with the way you work here – with large projects and different disciplines. My entire programme created a really good foundation for my working life, he says.