2020 Near Zero Energy Standards for Climate Neutral Buildings

A nearly zero energy house is a building that covers most of its low energy requirements with renewable energy sources.

Wienerberger implements future-oriented nearly zero energy standards in Austria. The innovative model house with an energy-efficient clay block envelope is made of high thermal insulating Porotherm clay blocks with integrated insulation as the heart of the house. The focus is on affordability and minimisation of costs and to meet all requirements of the 2020 EU building directive.

The issue of sustainable and energy-efficient construction has been an important focal point of activities at Wienerberger AG for many years. Wienerberger took another important step with the July 2011 start of construction on e4 BRICKHOUSE 2020 in Austria — a future-oriented model house for sustainable construction with Porotherm clay blocks. The e4 BRICKHOUSE 2020 meets the requirements of the EU's energy performance of buildings directive for 2020 (Directive 2010/31/EU).

With an integral approach to buildings, the comprehensive approach of the e4 BRICKHOUSE concept is based on four key factors: a massive energy-efficient building envelope made of clay blocks, renewable energy sources, affordable construction and energy costs, and unique living quality.

Heimo Scheuch, CEO of Wienerberger AG, explained: "Our vision includes energy-efficient and sustainable buildings that are attractive and affordable. With the Wienerberger e4 BRICKHOUSE concept, we are demonstrating the realization of this vision with our clay blocks."

Scheuch added: "Even the best theory is useless if it can't be proven, and now we want to provide this confirmation. In Zwettl, Lower Austria, we are building Europe's first e4 BRICKHOUSE 2020. This model house will show that innovative, energy-efficient and sustainable but, above all, affordable buildings for tomorrow can be built today with natural ceramic building materials."

This near zero energy house made of clay blocks already meets the requirements of the EU's energy performance of buildings directive for 2020. According to this directive, a nearly zero energy house is a building that covers most of its low energy requirements with renewable energy sources. Therefore, the goal of this project is not only to minimise energy requirements for heating, but to also maximise the overall energy efficiency and to keep the primary energy demand and CO2 emissions of the house as low as possible. In order to meet these goals, the building envelope and the heating and building technology must work perfectly together.

The house was built with the Porotherm infill blocks CLIMAmur 42, the newest generation of Wienerberger blocks with integrated thermal insulation. They combine the natural building material of clay block with the mineral insulating material rock wool. The massive building envelope of high thermal insulating blocks guarantees excellent heat protection and high thermal accumulation. It protects the interior rooms against heat in the summer and keeps the building pleasantly warm in the winter — and all that without extra cooling or too much heating. This keeps energy demand low throughout the entire year.

In its buildings directive for 2020, the European Union points not only to the energetic optimisation of buildings, but also to cost-effectiveness — in other words, affordability. This factor was given special attention in the planning and realisation of the e4 BRICKHOUSE 2020. Consequently, one of the goals was to keep construction costs and, above all, operating and maintenance costs down. This house demonstrates sustainable and lasting values.

Stellaria NZ Ltd is currently building an equivalent home using the Porotherm R25Th+ block. NZ's e4 BLOCKHOUSE endorsed by Wienerberger, will be monitored for energy efficiency and overall performance for a period of one year.