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June 19, 2012

My house is my filling station

Efficiency House Plus in Berlin. Photo credit: BMVBS

Efficiency House Plus in Berlin. Photo credit: BMVBS

In October 2011, as part of its building and electric mobility research, the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development will begin with the construction of the follow-up model of the plus energy house which combines building and transport.

The idea is that the energy generated by the house is stored in suitable high-capacity batteries and used to recharge electric vehicles. Before the end of this year, the first fully functional and habitable "Energy Surplus House" is to be presented in Berlin. For this, an electric car charging point and an electric vehicle are added to the Efficiency House Plus.

The research project will be constructed as a single-family house with around 130 square metres. It will serve as a "showcase" for joint innovative developments in building and vehicle technologies. The house in Fasanenstrasse 87, 10623 Berlin, will be used, scientifically tested and publicly displayed in a real-world setting for two years. Under the heading "My house is my filling station", it will display the resource-conserving, sustainable use of synergies between the building and transport sectors. The surplus electricity generated by the house can be fed into the grid or used for electric mobility (car, motorcycle, bicycle). Several German automobile manufacturers have already expressed their interest in a cooperation in this project.

Federal Minister Dr Peter Ramsauer said:

"Buildings and transport together account for almost 70% of overall final energy consumption. There is an enormous potential for saving energy. In order to meet our climate change targets, we want to make optimum use of all options available. We see building and transport as a unit. It is important to take the charging infrastructure into account, in particular when constructing new buildings. With our energy plus house we will go even further. With the help of a habitable prototype, we want to demonstrate that a family can use the energy generated by the house also for their mobility. Our energy plus house generates twice as much energy as it consumes. This is enough to charge the electric vehicle outside the door. This is why we will build a model house in Berlin. Such innovative ideas can and are to make Germany a lead provider of and a lead marked for electric mobility."

The project will be closely monitored. Following a test phase, a family of four is to live in the building for one year, starting in 2012. The results are to be available for the large-scale, economically viable construction of such buildings and for the advancement of technical systems.

With regard to suitability for everyday use, Ramsauer said:

"We want promising innovative ideas, technologies and materials to be used at an earlier point in time. For this to happen, we need viable products that are fit for everyday use and inspire users. And we want to examine new ideas thoroughly within the framework of model projects so that in the end the product is socially and economically successful. It makes little sense to fund projects and do research without considering what the market requires."

The house has more advantages than just a positive energy balance:

  • recyclability of all materials used, ease of dismantling
  • flexibility as regards demographic change, accessibility and various support systems
  • operation supported by mostly automatic functions, user intervention possible at any time
  • easy upkeep and operation, repair and maintenance
  • modern design and at the same time flexibly convertible

Current Status:

At the end of 2010, Professor Werner Sobek and the Stuttgart University Institute for Lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design (ILEK) won the competition between universities in collaboration with engineering companies for the design of the project "Efficiency House Plus with Electric Mobility". The project will be constructed as a model house of the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development and will be scientifically monitored by the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft and the Berlin Institute for Social Research (BIS). The BIS is preparing the selection of the test family based on sociological findings. Federal Chancellor Merkel and Federal Minister Ramsauer opened the house on 7 December 2011. After a three-month scientific test run of the project, a test family is to move in in March 2012 and live there for 15 months. During this time, various research studies will go on.

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