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Vienna International Congress on Sustainable Building

Industry Developments
Vienna International Congress on Sustainable Building
18/02/15

Vienna International Congress on Sustainable Building

Conference about the Principles of Ecologically Responsible and Energy Efficient Building:  Are They Practical For Real Life Building Tenancy?

The annual Vienna Congress on Sustainable Building is one of the most important events on sustainable building, energy efficiency, architecture, environment, ecology and construction. 

This year, Whiston Solutions took the opportunity to attend this international event held in Vienna in February. This year's theme was  about ‘Buildings in Use – Managing Comfort and Energy Efficiency in Buildings’. The conference looked at the principles of energy efficient and ecologically responsible buildings. The objective of this conference is to boost trade and best practice collaboration in the built environment.

The Vienna conference brings acclaimed researchers, scientists, and research scholars together and gives them an opportunity to share their views and exchange study results and measured data about various aspects of Infrastructure Engineering and Sustainable Building. It also provides a platform where educators, researchers and practitioners can discuss their concerns, trends, practical challenges and the most recent developments in the field of engineering and construction.

Expert Talk

This year, the conference saw the participation of several experts on architecture, ecology and construction. They discussed green building practices used in different parts of the world and stressed the need to adopt green philosophy. Several speakers talked about energy efficient houses, construction materials and technologically-advanced engineering systems. 'Passivhaus - zero energy houses and office blocks'

Some topics that were discussed at the conference include the following: 

Sustainable buildings

What exactly is sustainable building design? Its definition keeps changing; nonetheless, the fundamental principles haven't changed over the years. 

Optimising the potential of the site 

In order to create sustainable buildings, the builder has to choose the right site. They should also see if existing buildings can be reused or rehabilitated. 

Optimising energy use

Fossil fuel resources are fast depleting. Consequently energy security and energy independence have become a cause for concern. In addition, the burning of fossil fuels has affected global climate adversely. Therefore, increasing the energy efficiency of existing buildings is essential for ensuring our energy independence. 

Optimising the potential of the building materials and the building space

The materials used for creating sustainable buildings have minimal impact on the environment. They don't contribute to global warming or resource depletion in a big way. 

Enhancing the quality of indoor environment

The indoor environmental quality (IEQ) has a huge impact on the health, productivity and comfort of the people who occupy the building. Sustainable buildings make the best use of daylighting and optimise acoustic performance. They are properly ventilated and hence they can control moisture levels.

Optimising maintenance and operational practices

If operating costs and maintenance requirements of a building are taken into account during the design stage, it will contribute to the development of better working environments where system failures are few and energy costs low. 

The Concept of Passiv haus

Passiv Haus is a concept that has become quite popular in Austria and other countries in continental Europe. This is a tried and trusted building concept which can be used anywhere. Student accommodation buildings are examples of passive houses. As the rooms are properly ventilated, they don't retain high levels or moisture or the smelling of cooking. 

Still, a Passiv Haus isn't just another low-energy building. 

They have reduced heating and cooling costs and the energy savings can be up to 90 percent compared to regular buildings and over 75 percent compared to average new buildings. 

Passiv Haus take advantage of sunlight and internal heat sources. Since they are adept at heat recovery, they don't require conventional heating systems even during cold winters. And thanks to the efficient use of passive cooling methods like strategic shading, Passive Houses remain comfortably cool during hot summer months. 

Passive Houses offer high levels of comfort. In a passive house, there is hardly any variation between indoor air temperature and internal surface temperature even in the midst of extreme outdoor temperatures.  

The thoughtfully designed ventilation system will ensure that the occupants have a constant supply of fresh air. 

Field Trip

During the Vienna conference, we took the opportunity to visit Aspern, located at the old Vienna airport, where they are currently building the biggest housing project in Europe. The Aspern smart city will have six storied multi apartment homes using the Passiv Haus technology. While visiting this site we also got to talk with some UK Passiv Haus designers and architects. 

Passive houses have somewhat higher (about 4-6%) initial construction capital costs; however, these costs are easily offset because these buildings have significantly lower operating costs. 

For widespread adoption of passive house, the governments have to change their building regulations in such a way that they incorporate the emerging  and tested new technologies available.