NZ is falling behind again as builders and developers try to keep up with recent housing demand. BRANZ recently released a report to say 48% of NZ housing is of poor standard and quality. European trends are well ahead of us acknowledging at a government level – that good quality housing is critical to the financial and emotional wellness and quality of life.
The Wienerberger e4 has created an archetype for the future of European 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 is to create an archetype for the future of housing.
Using fast laying and high performing Porotherm clay blocks, the e4 adopts a ‘fabric first’ approach to sustainable design creating a house that is both affordable and desirable. It is named after the four key founding principles of economy, energy, environment and emotion.
Economy – A house that is affordable to run, buy and live in, offering a balance and optimised build performance to exceed market requirements.
Energy – A house that meets the most up to date energy and performance standards and will do for every day of its 120-year plus life cycle.
Environment – A house that minimises it’s environmental impact by using responsibly sourced, resource efficient construction materials and promoting low-impact living by design.
Emotion – A house that enhances the well-being of it’s inhabitants. A house that provides flexibility and practicality to deliver a better quality of life.
Future-oriented model house for sustainable building
In 2012, Wienerberger took an important step towards future housing by finishing the first e4 brick house 2020 in Austria – a future-oriented model house for sustainable construction, using clay blocks with integrated thermal insulation.
First measured data as per June 2014 showed that the e4 brick house exceeds the expectations with regards to its annual balance of electrical energy, but falls short of the expectations regarding the annual thermal balance. The reasons for this are less sunshine at the beginning of 2013 and the room air temperature the residents asked for, which ranges between 22 to 25 degrees. This is about 40% higher than the value calculated in the planning phase which specified a constant room temperature of 20 degrees Celsius.
Power balance – e4 brick house Austria as per June 2014
- The average power consumption of the e4 brick house amounts to approximately 300 kWh per month (power consumption of the scientific monitoring was subtracted out)
- From January to the end of April 2014, the solar power unit generated one third more power than the e4 brick house consumed in the same period.
- As from February 2014, the 6.5 kW peak photovoltaic system on the garage rooftop generated more solar electricity than the e4 brick house consumed. In 2013, this result was only achieved in March.
- About one fifth of the overall power requirement is consumed by the pump operation required for heat distribution within the e4 brick house.
- In March and April 2014, about half of the power consumption was covered by the own solar power system.
Heat balance – e4 brick house Austria as per June 2014
- The installed low-temperature distribution systems (underfloor heating + thermally active walls built of clay blocks) demonstrably increase the arithmetical fraction of solar heat in covering the heating and hot water demand. When increasing the temperature of the supply water for the heat distribution systems from 36 degrees Celsius to 44 degrees Celsius, the solar fraction already drops by 6%, as proven in calculations by the AIT team.
- In the cold winter months, the solar thermally activated clay block walls were fed with water heated up to 35 degrees Celsius, so that surface temperatures on the plastered clay block walls achieved top values of up to 28 degrees Celsius. The thermal charging of a brick wall segment is done with a thermal output of 200 to 500 Watt.
- As from mid-March 2014, the heating supply of the e4 brick house was fully covered with solar heat. In 2013, this was only achieved as from May on.
- From October 2013 to January 2014, the following solar fractions of the heat supply were measured: SFOct = 100%, SFNov = 35,4%, SFDec = 29,7%, SFJan =23,3%
More e4 brick houses to come
Based on this experience in Austria, Wienerberger initiated the next construction projects for brick houses fulfilling “2020 nearly zero energy standards” in Belgium, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Romania.
Due to the highly advanced brick technology and flexible planning, the e4 brick house is able to meet all the necessary requirements for the use of renewable energy sources, sanitary 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
e4 single-family house in Romania
A single-family house in harmony with the people living inside and with the environment outside. The e4 brick house built near Bucharest, Romania is a single-family house reflecting the four principles: energy, economy, ecology and emotion. The solution adopted for this house combines the use of clay blocks with the use of alternative energy sources in order to ensure the quality of living with affordable construction and maintenance costs.
Keeping in mind the comfort needed for a modern family with two children, the architect created flowing indoor spaces and set minimal accents by unusual colours and surfaces of natural materials.
Clay bricks as foundation for an up to date family house
The brick walls are creating a balanced indoor climate and ensure protection against sudden temperature changes. Besides that, this e4 brick house 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. 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.
Sustainable architecture: The Thermodynamic solar wall
An additional distinctive element, used for the first time in Romania for a family house, is the thermodynamic solar wall (also called “Trombe wall”). It contributes to the natural ventilation of the house by enhancing heating/cooling of the interior with zero power consumption. This is possible due to a combination of greenhouse effect and the thermal inertia of clay blocks. In winter, the thermodynamic solar wall absorbs heat during sunlight hours and then slowly releases it overnight, supporting an overall lower energy consumption.