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Germany Is On ‘Green’ Fire

Dear Germany, When You Get To The Green Future, Please Throw The Rest Of Us A Rope!

395px-Heliotrop_FreiburgHailing from Freiburg, Germany, Rolf Disch is a renowned architect that has put his little city front and center on the eco-map. Literally transforming Freiburg into Germany’s eco-capital where about 35% of residents don’t own a car and new homes routinely incorporate photovoltaic panels. And now, a popular destination for tourist world-wide seeking the reality of sustainable architecture and the inspiration for better eco-friendly housing options for their future.

Disch was green when green was just another color in the light spectrum. Back in 1994, he designed and built the Heliotrope as his own private residence. A one-of-a-kind design, the first building in the world to create more energy than it uses. Producing about 5 times more, entirely renewable, emissions free and CO2 neutral, energy than his home can use. The rooftop’s dual-axis solar photovoltaic tracking array revolves to catch the sun’s rays, while the house itself rotates in the opposite direction to maximize solar shading. The Heliotrope also has a geothermal heat exchanger, a combined heat and power unit (CHP) and solar-thermal balcony railings to provide heat and warm water, a grey-water cleansing system and built-in natural waste composting.

Around that same time frame, Disch’s firm was commissioned and built two more Heliotropes, a visitor’s center and showroom in Offenburg, Germany, and a technical dental laboratory in Hilpoltstein, Bavaria.

sonnenschiff-solar-city-with-solar-panels_1_3Y14M_69However, what really started the influx of eco-pilgrims to Freiburg, and lately, has the news outlets all aflutter, is Disch’s completed and occupied projects, the Sonnenschiff (Solar Ship) and Solarsiedlung (Solar Village). A complex that is a power producing neighborhood, producing 4 times the energy than it consumes. Integrating 52 homes, a mixed space for residential and commercial buildings, incorporating a series of large rooftop solar arrays that double as sun shades. Putting the homes on top of the business’. The homes are protected from wind and from street noise by a nearly 10 foot (3 meter) high glazed screen, and have their own “sky garden” on top of the commercial space. Glass facades, windows and doors have triple-glazing.

There is no mechanical air-conditioning (well, we ain’t talkin’ Texas, kids). Instead, the design relies on passive cross-ventilation and night-time ventilation. Brightly colored composite panel screens with side vents project almost 18 inches (400 mm) from the main building. Behind them are “doors” that can be opened at night to allow cool air to enter the building through the side vents, without fear of burglary. The walls are made from timber panels, timber-metal composite panels and vacuum sandwiched panels that are 1.5 inches (40 mm) deep, but achieve the same U-value as 15.7 inches (400 mm) of insulation thickness. With enough rooftop photovoltaic arrays that brings them up to Energy Plus standard. Meaning not Net Zero, but Net Positive, and selling the excess back to the grid.

But, one video is worth a couple of thousand words, so ….

We all know we’ve created a serious health problem for our planet. Germany not only jumped on that Green Train, they’ve cranked it up and are tenaciously propelling it down the sustainable future track. Meanwhile, back on this side of the Earth ranch, nit-wits are clamoring around forming committees, to organize feasibility studies into the cost of forming committees to investigate the conceptual ways of possibly ridding ourselves of our fossil fuel addiction and if cost effective, other avenues for sustainable living – MAYBE! Yes, America, I’m talking about US!

as the green future unfolds

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5 Responses to “Germany Is On ‘Green’ Fire”

  1. nemie @ sending plants Says:

    Wow! that was impressive.. I think now a days, people have to find ways to be environment friendly. With all the problems that we are facing because of global warming I think Germany was able to make their first step towards a green future, hopefully the others will follow..

  2. Linda Says:

    Hi nemie … This is our thought as well. Hopefully the world will follow suit!

    Hi RE … LOL! So true! It should take no time to get rolling…..

  3. RE - RecycledFrockery Says:

    I wonder if our scientests have seen this youtube ? hey be a good egg and shoot em a link so we can then hold them responsible when they don’t follow through on their green rhetoric. this is a wonderful model with all the kinks already worked out. that should make it easy to follow for our extrademogogs. (wink*wink)
    .-= RE – RecycledFrockery´s last blog ..We Likey Freeee Picnik- and Cute Baby Pics too =-.

  4. limaj@harley handlebars Says:

  5. celine Says:

    wow!! this is awesome..really green..and look at their houses..all uses solar is really inspiring..I hope everyone will work hand in hand to save our earth …

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