Interview with Iris Behr and Britta Sein, IWU members and scientific partners of AFTER.







IWU is a research institution founded by the State of Hesse and the City of Darmstadt. The overall mission and task of the institute is to research forms of housing and living conditions.
As a scientific partner, IWU is in charge, in the frame of AFTER, of the elaboration of the methods to assess, to optimize and to follow-up the test of energy saving measures. IWU is also the Work Package leader for the low-energy buildings issues.

Aims of WP 7: Recent low energy buildings
In the frame of the work package recent new buildings (completed during the last five years)
are monitored. We deal with individual and multi storey low energy buildings (LEB) with less than 50 kWh/(m²a) final energy for heating, hot water,
auxiliary energy.
These buildings –for the time being – are not the standard of new construction but stand for ambitious projects – so to say “lighthouses”. However, when taking into consideration the EPBD recast of 2010 the future requirements for 2020 demand the “nearly zero energy construction”.
The LEB respectively the Passivhaus Standard will become state-of-the-art. IWU is well experienced with the development and monitoring of low energy buildings and Passivhauses – you should remember
that it was the IWU researcher Dr. Wolfgang Feist who “invented” the Passivhaus at IWU.

LEBs consist of distinct elements:
– super insulated shell,
– high standard windows + window frames,
– heat recovery system, and
– efficient heating system,
– possibly supported by solar thermal installations
These components of course can be used in all kinds of renovation projects, and might therefore be useful in the context of the other work packages dealing with refurbishment, replacement of heating, ventilation and domestic hot water systems.

What is different and special in comparison with the other work packages?
Low energy buildings and even more Passivhaus buildings are based on an integrated approach.
Cooperation and communication of everyone involved is essential: there is the investor who looks at the live cycle of the construction and understands
this (somewhat more expensive construction compared with the legally required standard) as an
investment into the future. Planners (architects, civil engineers, special consultants) as well as skilled craftsmen have to take care of a very precise implementation, and finally the “consumer”, the inhabitant of the LEB, who needs to take care of that type of construction: to whom the ventilation system and the potentials to save heat, water and electricity must become familiar.

AFTER : obstacles and hopes ?
Data collection shows that nearly all partners started with low energy building construction. There are real new low energy buildings but also rehabilitations of the existing stock up to LEB-standards. ¬
It is noticeable that the SHOs are trying to address different target groups: students, families, elderly people, and residential communities living together under the roof of a low energy building and who want to address energy saving and other common issues.

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