The effort is definitely worth it!

How social housing can be realised in an energy efficient and cost-effective way
Jan. 30, 2020

Darmstadt, Germany. Low operational costs for heating and electricity and a high standard of living comfort are possible at the same time: the latest session of the Research Group for cost-effective Passive Houses addressed the issue of social housing and how it can be implemented in a cost-effective and energy efficient manner. During an associated excursion, many parti-cipants visited the PassivhausSozial-Plus in Darmstadt which is a nationwide model project for social housing.


Art display
Many municipalities, particularly in high-density urban areas, are tackling the urgent task of providing more affordable housing. Although government subsidies are often available for energy-efficient buildings, investments in energy efficiency especially

Many mu­ni­cip­al­it­ies, par­tic­u­larly in high-dens­ity urb­an areas, are tack­ling the ur­gent task of provid­ing more af­ford­able hous­ing. Al­though gov­ern­ment sub­sidies are of­ten avail­able for en­ergy-ef­fi­cient build­ings, in­vest­ments in en­ergy ef­fi­ciency es­pe­cially are per­ceived to be a ma­jor factor for in­creased costs by the prop­erty de­ve­lopers. "Gen­er­ally speak­ing, it is not enough to only con­sider the in­vest­ment costs for con­struc­tion. The aux­il­i­ary costs are of cru­cial im­port­ance for so­cially ac­cept­able rents," ex­plains Oliv­er Kah of the Pass­ive House In­sti­tu­te. The ses­sion of the Re­search Group on so­cial hous­ing ini­ti­ated by the Pass­ive House In­sti­tu­te dealt with both cost seg­ments.

Act­ive cli­mate pro­tec­tion

Dr Wolfgang Feist, founder of the Pass­ive House In­sti­tu­te, has poin­ted out that en­ergy ef­fi­cient hous­ing con­struc­tion helps in achiev­ing cli­mate pro­tec­tion ob­ject­ives. "No­tice­able suc­cess has already been achieved through bet­ter en­ergy ef­fi­ciency. These solu­tions must now be ap­plied with com­mit­ment."

Social housing to the Passive House standard: the incidental costs for the PassivhausSozialPlus in Darmstadt aim for two Euros per square metre, including the budget for electricity and hot water, greywater utilisation and internet. The Research Group for

Sav­ings po­ten­tials

Dur­ing the 55th Ses­sion of the Re­search Group for cost-ef­fect­ive Pass­ive Houses, Es­th­er Goll­witzer of the Pass­ive House In­sti­tu­te iden­ti­fied the sav­ing po­ten­tial and cost drivers for hous­ing con­struc­tion. Based on the ex­ample of already real­ised multi-storey res­id­en­tial build­ings, she showed that the con­struc­tion costs fluc­tu­ate con­sid­er­ably even with the same en­ergy stand­ard. This might be due to dif­fer­ent build­ing designs, for ex­ample. However, Goll­witzer em­phas­ised that en­ergy ef­fi­ciency meas­ures have only a small im­pact on the total costs of the build­ing and men­tioned that these ad­di­tion­al costs amount to about four to sev­en per cent for build­ing to the Pass­ive House stand­ard.

55th Session of the Research Group
Social housing was the main topic at the 55th Session of the Research Group for Cost-effective Passive Houses.

At­tract­ive sub­sidy pro­grammes

"But these in­vest­ments for high­er en­ergy ef­fi­ciency can of­ten be re­duced sig­ni­fic­antly through sub­sidy pro­grammes, in con­trast to the  in­creas­ing costs for build­ing fa­cil­it­ies," ex­plained Oliv­er Kah of the Pass­ive House In­sti­tu­te. In his present­a­tion, Kah ex­amined the total costs for a new build­ing. He pre­cisely cal­cu­lated how prices for the build­ing land or an un­der­ground gar­age are rising, and how costs for build­ing more en­ergy ef­fi­ciently, in­clud­ing a good level of in­su­la­tion, can af­fect the costs for the DIN 276 con­struc­tion cost group 300-400 and hence also the rent later on.

Happy res­id­ents

Ac­cord­ing to Kah, en­ergy ef­fi­cient build­ings are at­tract­ive for res­id­ents as well. Hous­ing con­struc­tion com­pan­ies re­port that the risk of va­cant prop­er­ties is very small in the case of Pass­ive House homes due to their low aux­il­i­ary costs and the high stand­ard of liv­ing com­fort at the same time. Marc Großk­los from the IWU (In­sti­tu­te of Hous­ing and the En­vir­on­ment) and Pass­ive House de­sign­er Folk­er Rasch dis­cussed the Passivhaus­Sozi­alPlus in Darm­stadt as a key fo­cus of the Re­search Group.

55th Session of the Research Group for cost-effective Passive Houses
"Not only the investment costs, but also the auxiliary rental costs, are important for socially acceptable rents," declared the Passive House Institute at the 55th Session of the Research Group for cost-effective Passive Houses. © PHI

Na­tion­wide mod­el pro­ject

The Passivhaus­Sozi­alPlus in Darm­stadt is a na­tion­wide mod­el pro­ject and was also the fo­cus of an ex­cur­sion dur­ing the Pass­ive House Open Days. This so­cial hous­ing pro­ject aims for aux­il­i­ary rent­al costs of two Euros per square metre of liv­ing space on av­er­age. These costs will be charged as a fixed fee and will in­clude the costs for elec­tri­city, hot wa­ter and in­ter­net use. The ex­cur­sion’s par­ti­cipants were im­pressed by this pro­ject which con­sists of two apart­ment blocks, of which one is a ret­ro­fit­ted build­ing and the oth­er one is a new build. Both build­ings are equipped with a photo­vol­ta­ic sys­tem and bat­tery stor­age.

Sub­sidies are avail­able

For the En­ergy Agency of the state of Hesse (LEA), Chris­ti­an Kuhl­mann out­lined the sub­sidies avail­able for ex­tremely en­ergy ef­fi­cient build­ings, in­clud­ing those for mod­ern­isa­tion of ex­ist­ing build­ings to the Pass­ive House stand­ard. Kuhl­mann con­firmed that nu­mer­ous grants are avail­able. The non-profit hous­ing de­vel­op­ment as­so­ci­ation Neue Heimat Tir­ol (NHT) spe­cial­ises in so­cial hous­ing. Har­ald Malzer presen­ted vari­ous pro­jects of the NHT in­clud­ing the mod­el 5-Euro-Miete ("5 euro rent") of a Pass­ive House build­ing in Schwaz, Tyr­ol.

This diagram illustrates the living costs for the Passivhaus-SozialPlus in Darmstadt. This nationwide model project is being monitored by the IWU (Insitute for Housing and the Environment) in Darmstadt. © Passive House Institute

Works of art for so­cial hous­ing

The 18 apart­ments in this Pass­ive House pro­ject are ren­ted out by the NHT for a monthly amount of just five Euros per square metre to cov­er costs, in­clud­ing heat­ing. The NHT also en­deav­ours to cre­ate a wel­com­ing at­mo­sphere in the build­ings and in­cor­por­ates a piece of art in­to each prop­erty to en­hance this, says Malzer.

Most eco­nom­ic­ally ef­fi­cient op­tion

Ralf Wern­er presen­ted new build­ings and en­ergy ret­ro­fits of the Wohn­bau Gießen. He poin­ted out that ret­ro­fit­ting with Pass­ive House com­pon­ents rep­res­ents the most eco­nom­ic­ally ef­fi­cient vari­ant for Wohn­bau Gießen if sub­sidy pro­grammes can be ac­cessed. At the end of the Re­search Group ses­sion, Pass­ive House In­sti­tu­te staff presen­ted proven solu­tions for an en­ergy ef­fi­cient build­ing en­vel­ope and for cent­ral­ised and de­cent­ral­ised home vent­il­a­tion sys­tems with heat re­cov­ery.

Next Re­search Group ses­sion in May

The find­ings of the Re­search Group will be pub­lished in a pro­tocol (in Ger­man). To­geth­er with the Hes­si­an Min­istry of Eco­nom­ic Af­fairs, En­ergy, Trans­port and Hous­ing, the Ger­man state of Hesse is the spon­sor of the Re­search Group ses­sions 55 to 57. The 56th ses­sion of the Re­search Group for cost-ef­fect­ive Pass­ive Houses will take place on 14 May 2020 and will be on the top­ic "En­ergy ef­fi­ciency and re­new­able en­ergy: Con­flict of goals or syn­ergy?"

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