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Toy house on green meadow, daisies © drubig-photo/Adobe Stock

Climate-Neutral Living with Clean Energy

Buildings account for 40 percent of energy consumption in the EU. Wienerberger is delivering sustainable housing solutions – with green energy and innovative brick solutions.

14.12.2022 10 min

A modern, gray-white building surrounded by a garden: someone is cooking in the kitchen using electricity generated by a photovoltaic system mounted on the distinctive pitched roof. Children are playing on a parquet floor that is kept warm by underfloor heating. And the solid brick walls ensure a pleasant indoor climate. This highly energy-efficient building produces the same amount of clean energy as it uses. So, is this what the future looks like?

Woman, child and man on a couch, form a roof over their heads with cardboard, lamp © detailblick-foto/Adobe Stock

Sustainable living for generations: energy-efficient and climate-neutral building solutions are a key to the energy transition.

Buildings Must Become Energy Efficient

In 2022 the building sector is still the most powerful lever for decarbonization. According to figures from the European Union buildings account for a total of 40 percent of energy consumption and 36 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. This mainly stems from construction, usage, renovation and demolition. Three quarters of buildings in Europe are not energy efficient. In addition, there is an enormous renovation backlog. At present just 0.4 to 1.2 percent of the building stock is renovated each year.

The EU has defined an ambitious goal in its European Green Deal: to become climate neutral by 2050. Increasing the energy efficiency of buildings is therefore crucially important. This requires improvements to existing buildings as well as smart solutions and energy-efficient materials in new buildings. Renovations to existing properties alone could reduce total energy consumption in the EU by up to 6 percent and CO2 emissions by around 5 percent.

Definition: What is a Zero-Energy House?

A zero energy house is a highly energy-efficient building. The total amount of energy used by the building on an annual basis is equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site. Wienerberger began pioneering work in this area over ten years ago with its ground-breaking e4 brick house concept.

Greener Living with Sustainable Building Materials

Wienerberger is helping shape the sustainable living of the future. “We are committed to providing new solutions for decarbonization in the form of innovative products and systems. Our product range is perfectly suited for the construction of energy-efficient and even energy-neutral buildings,” says Andreas Jäger, Head of International Product Management Wall at Wienerberger. On account of their excellent thermal insulation properties and their thermal storage capacity bricks contribute significantly to energy efficiency and climate protection. This applies to both new build and renovation.

Three bricklayers in work clothes set bricks © Wienerberger

Buildings for the energy future: thanks to their natural properties bricks save energy and ensure a pleasant indoor climate.

Innovative Bricks Save Energy

Wienerberger constantly focuses on developing sustainable innovations for single-family homes and multi-story residential buildings. These include clay blocks filled with insulating material, new facing brick formats for double-shell exterior walls and energy-efficient upon-rafter insulation for pitched roofs. Due to their low thermal conductivity these products and systems significantly reduce energy consumption.

In summer, fter a building has been ventilated with cool night air, the brickwork is cold and heats up again only slowly. As a result, the room temperature only increases slightly as the day progresses. In winter, on the other hand, the heat remains stored in the walls during short bursts of ventilation. Residents thus benefit year-round from comfortable ambient temperatures and lower energy costs – a win-win-situation for people and the environment. Read more here: The Answer to Climate Change: Brick as a Building Material.

Leadax Roov: Flat-Roof Solution Cuts Emissions

Roof being layed with Leadax Roov
The only one of its kind in the world: Two workers installing the sustainable flat-roof membrane developed by Leadax.
© Wienerberger

Dutch manufacturer Leadax offers an utterly unique roof solution: the Leadax Roov flat-roof membrane is made of plastic waste and when it reaches the end of its service life can be recycled again. Its carbon footprint is therefore up to 85 percent smaller than that of other commonly-used products. Another advantage is that the flat-roof membrane absorbs far less heat in strong sun than does a conventional roof cover. This creates pleasant indoor temperatures even in summer. Wienerberger is the exclusive distributor of the Leadax Roov roofing membrane which has been available in the Netherlands since early 2022. More information can be found here:

The Rise of Photovoltaics

Sustainable living also means using clean sources of energy. Photovoltaics in particular are playing an increasingly important role. In 2021 solar energy already accounted for 5.5 percent of the EU’s gross electricity production. And the trend is growing fast as the current energy crisis is intensifying the desire of many homeowners to achieve greater energy independence by producing their own solar electricity. A series of EU initiatives aim to bring over 320 gigawatts of solar energy online by 2025 and almost 600 GW by 2030.

Solar roof tiles on a brick building © Wienerberger

Into the energy future: Wevolt solar roof tiles from Wienerberger are ushering in a new era of photovoltaics.

Wienerberger Pushes Solar Roof Tiles

Wienerberger is breaking new ground in photovoltaics and promoting innovative solar roof tiles. Due to their compact size, the products are easy and flexible to lay - for example around skylights or chimneys. Since the entire roof can be used to generate clean energy, the energy yield is at least as high as that of a classic photovoltaic system.

Since 2021, Wienerberger has marketed the innovative Alegra 10 Wevolt solar roof tiles as its own photovoltaic solution in the Netherlands. The solution is now being rolled out in other European countries. In the same year, Wienerberger entered into a strategic partnership with Exasun. The Dutch solar panel manufacturer Exasun is an innovative developer of high-quality, building-integrated glass-glass photovoltaic systems. Find out more here: Solar Roof Tiles: Energy Systems of the Future.

Sustainable Rainwater Management

Sustainable Rainwater Management, woman with child and dog in the gartdn
Precious water: thanks to the rainwater management system from Pipelife rainwater can be used to water the garden.
© Pipelife

Water is an increasingly precious resource and plays a big role in sustainable living concepts. With the innovative rainwater management system from Pipelife, rainwater can be channeled away from roofs, car parks or other outdoor facilities and then filtered and stored in so-called stormboxes (rain retention cisterns). From here it can be used later for irrigation or as flush water for toilets. Read more here:

Energy-Efficient Heating and Cooling

It’s not just the building envelope that has potential for mitigating climate change. Heating accounts for more than two thirds of energy consumption in EU households. Then there is the high demand from air-conditioning systems due to rising temperatures. According to the International Energy Agency the use of air conditioners and electric fans accounts for almost one fifth of the total electricity used in buildings around the world. The prediction is that over the next three decades the use of air conditioning will soar and become one of the top drivers of global electricity demand.

Woman walking through room, pipes for cooling in ceiling © Pipelife

Surface cooling systems from Pipelife create a pleasant indoor climate with no drafts.

Pipelife Focuses on New Heating and Cooling Systems

“Our aim is to promote efficient heating and cooling systems – based on our sustainable pipe solutions and renewable energy sources,” explains Davis Zandersons, Head of Category Management InHouse at Pipelife. Good examples of this are underfloor heating and wall heating systems. Due to the large radiant surface, they work in the low-temperature range and thus save energy costs. Operated with a heat pump, heating and cooling systems require very little energy to operate and since they release heat in the room evenly maintain a pleasant and consistent indoor temperature for greater comfort in the home.

“What is less known is that this surface principle can also be used for cooling systems. Home owners benefit from radiant cooling with no unpleasant drafts and a system that requires minimal maintenance,” adds Davis Zandersons. In addition, Pipelife increasingly offers prefabricated customized system solutions – because sustainable installations begin with the fittings. Solutions include prefabricated underfloor heating mats, wall and ceiling panels. This reduces the time required for installation and saves material and costs. 

Geothermal Energy: Renewable Energy Taken from the Earth

Geothermal energy harnesses the heat stored in the accessible part of the Earth’s crust. Ground source geothermal energy systems use underground collectors – such as horizontally-laid pipes – to extract heat from the ground. This can then be converted into heating or cooling energy by a heat pump. This energy is used, for example, to cool buildings or produce hot water. While in winter, for example, ground source heat is used in underfloor or wall surface heating systems, in summer heat can be extracted from rooms and released into the ground.

Conclusion: Sustainable living is on the rise. And that’s a good thing. Only with a pioneering spirit and inventiveness will the vision of the climate neutral home become reality. Wienerberger is helping to shape this trend with clean energy systems and pioneering brick solutions.

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