2020 Near Zero Energy Standards for Climate Neutral Buildings

Wienerberger_e4_brick_house - 2020 Near Zero Energy Standards for Climate Neutral Buildings - Stellaria NZ

The Wienerberger e4 house has created an archetype for the future of housing. Developed alongside ARUP – the organisation behind such well-known buildings as the Sydney Opera House, the e4 is designed to meet the needs of modern living. This is a fully realised, adaptable and award-winning housing solution. The aim of the e4 blockhouse (also known as e4 Brickhouse) is to create an archetype for the future of housing.

Using quick-to-lay high performing Porotherm clay blocks, the e4 adopts a ‘fabric first’ approach to sustainable design creating a house that is both affordable and desirable. The future-proofed design means the house can be built in two stages within the superstructure to meet budget constraints.  ‘e4’ is named after the four key founding principles of economy, energy, environment and emotion.

E4 blockhouse meets NZ’s need for quality, affordable & high performing homes - StellariaNZ - Wienerberger e4 Blockhouse - energy economy environment emotionPRINCIPLES OF e4:

Economy: cost-efficient to build, purchase and run. The e4 offers a balanced & optimised build. The average home of reasonable to high quality in timber frame averages between $2,500-$3,000m2. Porotherm meets & out-performs this comparative cost-to-benefit ratio. Maintenance requirements are minimal.

Energy: efficient and high performance due to the thermal mass of Porotherm. These houses will meet a near zero energy performance requirement.

Environment: minimal environmental impact is met by using responsibly sourced, resource efficient materials & promoting low-impact living by design. Porotherm blocks are 100% organic and truly sustainable.

Emotion: a state of well-being & high level of health is maintained by the permeability of the Porotherm blocks with a resulting 100% natural & pure indoor air quality. No out-gassing or toxicity producing an unhealthy living environment. Peace of mind is met by knowing your home is durable for at least 150 years…


In 2012, Wienerberger completed its first e4 house in Austria called the 2020 house. It is a future-oriented model house for sustainable construction using Porotherm clay blocks with integrated thermal insulation.

Measured performance data in June 2014 showed that the e4 house exceeded expectation. Low-temperature distribution systems such as underfloor heating or infra-red panels plus thermally active walls built using Porotherm clay blocks demonstrably increased the retention of heat in winter and cool in summer significantly reducing heating and hot water demand.

Due to highly advanced clay block technology and flexible planning, the e4 house is able to meet all necessary requirements for the use of renewable energy sources and other systems at low operating cost and with a low-temperature heating system. The house is designed to produce more energy than it consumes using 100% renewable energy resources.

In Romania, the e4 family house added a distinctive element called the thermodynamic solar wall – also called a ‘Trombe wall’. This contributes to the natural heating and ventilation of the house by enhancing heating & cooling of the interior spaces with zero power consumption – made possible by the thermal inertia of Porotherm clay blocks. In winter, the thermodynamic solar wall absorbs heat during sunlight hours and then slowly releases it overnight supporting a much lower energy consumption.

E4 blockhouse meets NZ’s need for quality, affordable & high performing homes - StellariaNZ - Wienerberger e4 Blockhouse RomaniaPorotherm walls create a balanced indoor climate and ensure protection against sudden temperature changes. The e4 blockhouse also reflects the owner’s openness to use sustainable solutions when building their house: from the water heat pump to the solar panels on the roof or simple infra-red heating. The house has a “central brain” incorporating latest technologies that allow owners to control all the parameters important for their comfort and optimum management of the maintenance costs.

In summary – “The e4 concept applied for single-family houses represents the ideal vision on a possible house for the future. The project explores simultaneously multiple ways for low energy and materials consumption during the building process and well after that, when actually living in the house”. Dr. Architect Sergiu C. Petrea, Tecto Architectura.


References: Wienerberger UK, Clay-Wienerberger.

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