German environmental living

08 Dec 2011

Family of four to be invited into first fully functional Energy-Surplus House, in Berlin

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was on hand yesterday, to mark the presentation of Berlins’ first fully functional Energy-Surplus House. As part of its building and electric mobility research, the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development created the project as a ‘showcase’ for joint innovative developments in building and vehicle technologies.

The 130 sq. m. 3-bedroom structure aims to allow the comfortable abode of a single-family, and attains its accolade from sophisticated eco-friendly energy systems. Allowing for an excess of power to be created, via renewable methods, photovoltaic cells and heat pumps have been incorporated into the building’s design. This popular solar technology will be fitted to the roof, and the south-facing wall, producing more than 16,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each year. The ‘energy plus house’ generates twice as much energy as it consumes, allowing for carbon-friendly electricity to be put to alternative means. The surplus electricity generated by the house can be fed into the grid, or else stored in high-capacity batteries, to be used for charging electric vehicles.

Once dismantled, all 100% of the house’s materials can be recycled. The facade is formed out of a modern fusion of metal and glass, an admittedly popular feature of 21st century architecture. The latter material is used to create an expansive fully-transparent wall, allowing an influx of natural light into much of the interior spaces, as well as inviting public inspection.

The habitable construct will be used, scientifically tested and publicly displayed in a real-world setting for two years. Starting from 2012, a family of four will be invited to live within its confines for a rent-free 15-month period, chronicling their experiences. They will have some private areas and a private terrace on the west side.

"This house is an excellent example of how innovative advances can be linked to what people need in everyday life one step at a time," Merkel said at the opening of the thickly insulated structure. "There's a lot of potential in this area. I think this is an example of how people will be living in the future."

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