In this part of the expert interviews series we spoke with Mr. Ing. Franz Gugerell MSc, Managing Director of IG Passivhaus GmbH.
IG Passivhaus is an independent stakeholder for the dissemination of the passive house standard in Austria. It is a communication, consulting and research platform for the further development of passive house buildings. It represents around 320 companies with around 24,000 workplaces dedicated to the sustainable building standard Passivhaus.
How do you assess the status of passive house construction in Austria, how has it developed in the past and what developments do you see for the future?
Basically, I would say that the passive house technology has arrived, both in politics and with the developers. Now we are in a consolidation phase, that is, we have finished the pioneering phase and it is about consolidating the product. The materials and the know-how are available, but the breadth in the implementation of the Passive House standard has not yet been achieved. The industry is currently on a plateau of the first saturation after the initial upturn. The increase in the quality of the building and the declining housing subsidies are an obstacle. The passive house standard, however, is that new requirements for the building standard ("Nearly Zero Emission Building" by 2020) will force passive house technology.
What is the share of passive house building currently high?
The figures from Lower Austria, which I know, show that about 2.5 to 3% of the new buildings are built in passive house construction. This proportion is around 15 - 20% in the subsidized family house construction.
What is the role of the new building, which is being renovated in passive house standard?
The Passive House is still largely defined by the new building. In recent years, however, there have been some projects in the direction of passive house renovation. In the new building, products and skills are developed, which can then also be adapted in the area of renovation. In the meantime, the requirements and the calculation program (PHPP) for the rehabilitation have also been expanded.
How does the international passive house sector look like and what role does Austria play in it?
Austria remains a pioneer in the per capita projects. Austria's international construction industry is ofen visited as a reference country. Those domestic companies, which are well represented on the market in the field of passive house components, are also represented in the export sector. In addition to Austria, I note a very great commitment in our neighboring countries, these are very hard to reduce the existing residue. In addition to European countries, mainly Eastern European countries, China is also very interested in this technology. For example, lectures by Austrian experts on the subject of passive house technology are currently taking place in China. The driving force behind this is certainly the poor air quality in the metropolitan areas, which makes an employment with the topics of energy consumption, emissions, etc. inevitable.
How do you see the Austrian Passive House sector positioned?
There are very good products on the part of the industry in Austria, and there are a number of flagship companies in construction and crafts. However, there is still a need to catch up with the quality of execution, which is not restricted to the passive house construction sector in general, but affects the building industry itself. The high quality standard of the Passive House is increasingly affected by the lack of specialist work mentioned here.
What are the biggest challenges for the establishment of Passive House Building Standards in Austria and how is this avoided?
The greatest challenge lies in quality assurance in the implementation of projects in the passive house sector. Since there is a great need for further training, the professional staff can also implement the planning on the construction site. There are many activities in the field of further education in Austria, but commitment is visible in many of the Länder. However, the targeted coordination of the individual measures as well as the bundling of the activities are missing to uniform standards.
Furthermore, cross-cutting, networked further education is needed. The IG Passivhaus thinks about promoting targeted training in this area so that specially trained persons coordinate the various trades on the site. Existing training possibilities are the certified passive house planner and the certified passive house tradesmen. These courses are already trying to implement the goal of coordination.
One of the measures to counter these challenges is, in addition to the promotion of targeted training, to bring good implementation examples before the curtain in order to make the know-how visible.
A key point for the development and establishment of passive house technology is to be aware of how the building of the future will be. These buildings will generate most of the energy they consume. In this case, the Passive House is a very good starting product. As a rule, the detached house usually has enough roof space to generate the required energy using solar thermal energy and photovoltaics. On the other hand, this will not always be possible in the urban space in the apartment building. It is therefore all the more important that the efficiency of the building envelope is of a high standard as it significantly reduces the energy required. Through pilot plants and demonstration objects, it is now necessary to try to present the functioning in practice.
What are the reasons for the fact that the Passive House standard has not yet been established on a global scale?
The most important aspect is the costs, which are approx. 3 - 8% above the cost of a comparable building according to building regulations. The additional costs are essentially the result of the higher planning costs as well as the higher demands on windows and house technology.
If the operating costs of a low-energy building are compared with a passive house, it can be seen that the savings are around 50%. However, this is a very low level, so the savings in the area of 2.50 € / m² / year move in the storey building, in the family home construction it is around 3.50 € / m² / year. In most cases, these sums are too low to refinance the quality increase through the passive house components.
In the residential building, the costs of erecting the building costs are limited, and there is a 3% increase in costs. In the field of detached house construction, the lack of quality awareness at the customer is an obstacle to the passive house standard.
In which areas will the passive house construction play a particularly important role in the future?
In general, I think that there must be a change in the area of housing construction. A condensed form of housing has to be established, since the single-family house is not a viable product in the long term due to the construction costs and the required infrastructure. In this case, the passive house has a good chance, as the cost-effectiveness is different.
Office buildings and offices are also an important topic. The Energy Base (Passive House Office Building in 1210 Vienna) is a showcase project. Especially in the office building area, an awareness of the overall energy efficiency of a building is needed. Here, the approach of the passive house beyond the building envelope goes out and also the use takes into account in its width only correctly visible.
How do you assess the legal requirements for the passive house standard in Austria?
Only the above-mentioned cover of the construction costs for residential building conveyors has a negative effect on the passive house standard. The national and Europe-wide climate and energy targets of the government as well as of Europe, which promote energy-efficient construction (see the Energy Efficiency Act, European Building Directive, etc.), must be emphasized.
How do you assess the economic prerequisites for passive house construction, what are the role of subsidies?
In all federal states there are subsidies which are linked to the energy efficiency of the building envelope. In addition, a large part of the federal states have their own Passive House subsidies. In Lower Austria, for example, this is an additional € 20,000, which is an amount that can offset the additional costs of a passive house.
The new form of funding will be difficult to maintain in the current form, as I think that the funds will flow more heavily into remedial work.
In which areas of passive house construction is researched in Austria?
In the area of building materials, the aim is to make them more intelligent. Here, an example is the attempt to achieve equal insulation values with reduced insulation thickness. Building technology is essentially about improving the efficiency of individual components and entire systems. In the area of control technology, the establishment of a smart home technology plays an important role with the goal of intelligently controlling the entire building.
What challenges do you see for the future of IG Passivhaus in Austria?
The future activities of IG Passivhaus focus on quality assurance and on-going training at the member companies. Parallel to this is the establishment of the Passive House standard as the basis for a future building standard which must change from the energy user to the energy supplier.
Donauuniversität Krems: Master of Science für Sanierung und Revitalisierung
Weiterbildungen (PHPP Vertiefung, Energieausweis, Solarwärmeberater, Ökologie der Baustoffe etc.)
1985 - 1989: Voestalpine
1990 - 1992: ÖKO-HLA Yspertal
Sept. 1992 - März 1993: IVA GmbH
1993 - 2003: Umweltberatung NÖ
2003 - 2006: Ökobau-Cluster NÖ
Mai 2006: Geschäftsführer GUGERELL KG
Sept. 2011: Geschäftsführer IG Passivhaus
Juli 2010 - Febr. 2012: Furure Building GmbH