S Robert Hastings 11 Realities

Houses being built or renovated today should be designed considering two simple realities:

1 Within the building's lifetime, oil and natural gas will cease to be an inexpensive and reliable energy source.

2 Renewable energy, which must replace these fossil fuels, will be more expensive.

Accordingly, it only makes sense that housing design should aim for very low energy consumption. This is almost embarrassingly easy to achieve, in theory. The simple steps needed are to:

• minimize energy demand by:

- reducing heat and air transport through the envelope;

- recover heat from exhaust air to temper entering fresh air;

- specifying high-efficiency technical systems; and

• use renewable energy from:

- window solar gains and occupancy;

- active solar thermal systems and biomass;

- photovoltaic (PV) systems.

It is not just simple in theory; over 4000 such housing projects in Europe have been built. These high-performance buildings require only 15 kWh/m2a end energy or less for space heating. Their total primary energy use for space and water heating and electricity for technical systems does not exceed 45 kWh/m2a. Such housing, to date, tends to cost up to 10 per cent more than conventionally built housing. This, however, can be considered the investment needed to build housing ready for the future.

The investment also brings returns in improved comfort in several important ways:

• better air quality as a result of automated controlled ventilation;

• better thermal comfort since walls and, in particular, windows, are no longer cold surfaces; and

• better natural lighting through conscious design to maximize daylighting effectiveness.

This book examines six high-performance housing projects that demonstrate high energy performance and superior comfort. The projects are located in climates ranging from cold (Sweden) to temperate (Germany, Switzerland and Austria). They represent diverse housing types, (single family, row housing and apartment blocks) in both light frame and masonry construction.

The book then presents a choice of technologies that can be applied to build high-performance housing, addressing envelope construction, ventilation, heat distribution (often using the ventilation system), heat production, heat storage, and electricity production and appliances.

Source: Karin Kroiss, UWE Kroiss Energiesysteme, AT 4062 Kirchberg-Thening, www.energiesysteme.at

Figure I.1 Single family house in Thening

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