The house of the future is to consume minimum resources and to be largely climate-neutral. Professor Thomas Lützkendorf, Head of the Chair of Sustainable Management of Housing and Real Estate of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), and Professor Andreas Wagner, spokesperson of the topic “Efficient Energy Use in Buildings” of the KIT Energy Center, are in the team conducting research under the “Energy-optimized Construction” program of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. They focus on an integrated energy concept and economic impacts of energy-efficient construction on the lifecycle of a building.
Buildings still have a share of more than 40% in the primary energy consumption in Germany. “Our research focuses on the integrated energy concept of a building,” says Professor Andreas Wagner. At KIT’s Department of Architecture, he is responsible for building science. How much energy is consumed by heating and cooling, ventilation and illumination? How much electricity is needed by technical facilities, such as a geothermally driven heat pump? Most of the data are collected systematically in office buildings and other non-residence buildings, such as a museum and a supermarket. The findings are incorporated in scientifically based recommendations for planning. According to Wagner, a smart design and correct construction contribute considerably to energy efficiency, room conditioning, and illumination. An example is passive cooling: By means of anti-sun glass, effective shading of the windows, and storage mass, temperatures in rooms in the summer remain comfortable also without an air conditioning system, as natural heat sinks like outer air or soil are used. Andreas Wagner also studies how comfortable people feel in the houses. “Energy efficiency alone is no indicator of user satisfaction,” says Wagner. He considers aspects like thermal comfort, illumination, room acoustics, and air quality. Findings and calculation tools obtained from research are incorporated in the training of future architects.
Professor Thomas Lützkendorf studies the economic efficiency of the use of new building products and technical systems. The KIT scientist in particular focuses on the economic impacts of energy-efficient construction on the complete lifecycle of a building. He considers all costs associated with the building, from production costs to operation costs for energy and maintenance to expenses for demolition and the recycling of construction materials. “We develop methods to estimate and assess lifecycle costs in the early phases already and we determine the data and values needed for this purpose,” says Lützkendorf. It is aimed at providing planners with aids for the assessment and selection of planning options also under ecological aspects. Lützkendorf emphasizes that the long-term perspective additionally considers the interests of future generations. His research provides real estate business with assessment tools to find out how stable in value an energy-efficient building is in the long term.
Since 2011, KIT has been coordinating research under the “Energy-optimized Construction” program. Partners are the universities of Kassel and Wuppertal and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, Freiburg.
About the photo:
Energy efficiency squared: Right next to the Alfred Ritter chocolate factory at Waldenbuch is the “Museum Ritter”. The new building on a square floor plan, which harvests the art collection of Marli Hoppe-Ritter, is characterized by an energy-efficient, ecologically sustainable facility technology concept developed on behalf of the owner: The energy for heating and air conditioning is largely extracted from renewable sources, such as solar power, biomass, and geothermal energy. KIT scientists have assumed responsibility for energy monitoring and for optimizing facility operation.
(Photo: Museum Ritter Waldenbuch)
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is one of Europe’s leading energy research establishments. The KIT Energy Center pools fundamental research with applied research into all relevant energy sources for industry, households, services, and mobility. Holistic assessment of the energy cycle also covers conversion processes and energy efficiency. The KIT Energy Center links excellent competences in engineering and science with know-how in economics, the humanities, and social science as well as law. The activities of the KIT Energy Center are organized in seven topics: Energy conversion, renewable energies, energy storage and distribution, efficient energy use, fusion technology, nuclear power and safety, and energy systems analysis.
Research, education, and innovation at KIT foster the energy turnaround and reorganization of the energy system in Germany. Clear priorities lie in the areas of energy efficiency and renewable energies, energy storage technologies and grids, electromobility, and enhanced international cooperation in research.
Being “The Research University in the Helmholtz Association”, KIT creates and imparts knowledge for the society and the environment. It is the objective to make significant contributions to the global challenges in the fields of energy, mobility, and information. For this, about 9,800 employees cooperate in a broad range of disciplines in natural sciences, engineering sciences, economics, and the humanities and social sciences. KIT prepares its 22,300 students for responsible tasks in society, industry, and science by offering research-based study programs. Innovation efforts at KIT build a bridge between important scientific findings and their application for the benefit of society, economic prosperity, and the preservation of our natural basis of life. KIT is one of the German universities of excellence.