Lessons from Germany & Austria

A group of building professionals including architect Tom Hartman AIA, architect Chris Benedict R.A., builder Paul Eldrenkamp, and energy systems and consultant Andy Shapiro traveled to Germany and Austria touring high performance buildings. The trip was generously funded by the Saxon State Ministry for Economic Affairs, the OO Energiesparverband, and the Austrian Trade Commission. This included an invitation to the World Sustainable Energy Days Conference, which Tom Hartman later spoke at. The same group of professionals went on a similar tour of Sweden and Denmark.

Here are some of the buildings and projects that the group was introduced to and presented at the NESEA Building Energy Boston conference.

Oasis Church

Location: Linz, Austria
Building Type: Catholic Church
Architect: x Architekten
Year built: 2011
Size: 1000m2 (10,764 ft2)

The church illustrates precise attention to design detail with a low energy standard. Despite the unconventional industrial quality and use of concrete, the church is remarkably energy efficient with the green roof, triple glazed windows, several heat recovery ventilators, and ground sourced heat pumps. The numerous slats in the walls and ceiling integrate lighting, ventilation and audio, creating a harmonious interior.

Christophorus Haus

Location: Stadl-Paura, Austria
Building Type: office with 20 people, meeting room, commercial space, and vehicle bays
Architect: Albert Bohm and Helmut Frohnwieser
Year built: 2003
Size:1,027 m2 (11,054 ft2)

This multi-use building was retrofit to meet passive house standards. Materials include prefabricated wood panels, triple glazed windows, mineral wool in the roof, and a combination of hemp and cellulose in the walls. The mechanical system operates a ground sourced heat pump with radiant heating and cooling, solar thermal energy, rainwater collection, and greywater reuse. The open three story atrium is abundant with climbing plants, capturing natural daylight, and creating a feeling of serenity.

Multifamily Retrofit

Location: Chemnitz Saxony, Germany
Building Type: 4 apartments
Architect: Matthias Taube
Year built: 1911 / 2007
Size: 446 m2 (4,800 ft2)

This retrofit advanced the building to Passive House standard by adding a layer of exterior insulation over the existing masonry, triple glazed windows, and a semi conditioned basement with exterior insulation. The multifaceted mechanical system includes a ground source heat pump with four closed loop wells, solar thermal storage, central ERV with smoke dampers, radiant floor heating, and rainwater collection and storage. The retrofit apartment building stands out in sharp innovative contrast to the surrounding buildings without refurbishment or insulation measures.

Kindergarten Heidenau

Location: Heidenau Saxony, Germany
Building Type: Kindergarten
Architect: Reiter + Rentzsch
Year built: 2007
Size: 660 m2 (7,104 ft2)

This kindergarten design combines passive house energy standards with beautiful and thoughtful details that welcome children. The curvilinear foundation is echoed by the expansive green roof and supported by strong masonry and mineral wool. The building is on the district heating system with 12 m2 of solar hot water, and exterior shading panels on lower levels to help control the interior temperature.

Trip Itinerary

February 23rd – Chemnitz

  • Single family residence, newly built
  • Multifamily residence, retrofit
    • Engineer and owner Matthias Traube
  • Solar office building, retrofit
    • Built, engineered and owned by FASA AG
  • Office Building, newly built
    • Owned by Paul Wärmerückgewinnung

February 24th – Dresden

  • Gymnasium Gerhard-Grafe, newly built
    • Owner Andreas Lindeman, chairman of Sportgemeinschaft Weixdorf
  • Passive house under construction, Holbeinstr
  • Day care center for children, newly built
    • Architect Olaf Reiter

February 25th – Wels

February 26th

  • Passivhaus Kindergarten, Lengau
  • Solar City, Linz
    • Architects Helga Glassy and Gunter Glassy

February 27th

  • Renovated apartment building Makartstrasse Linz
    • Architect ARCH+MORE ZT

February 28th

  • Office Building MIVA
    • Architect BBM
  • Production Hall Obermayr, Schwanenstadt

March 1st – World Sustainable Energy Days Conference

  • Conference site visits
  • Presentation: Wood Pellets & Wood Chips production of fuels and equipment

March 2nd

  • Conference and trade show
  • European Pellet Conference
  • Trade Show Energiesparmesse

March 3rd

  • Conference and trade show
  • Energy Efficient Watch: Building Renovation
  • Trade Show Energiesparmesse
  • Passive Haus Supermarket Kirchberg/Thening
    • Architect Poppe-Prehal

March 4th

  • Conference and conference site visits
  • Energy Efficient Watch: Building Renovation Working Groups
  • Building Renovation site-visits
  • Passive school building Schwanenstadt
    • PAUAT Architekten

March 5th

  • Bio-Farm Supermarket, Eferding
    • Owner Günter Achleitner