Multi Housing News September 2012 : Page 55

green beat Schlierberg solar settlement in Freiburg Germany’s über-green Vauban district Zero is Not Enough Can a building really produce more energy than it consumes? By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor ustainable development practices, from the recycling of construction site waste to the employment of wa-ter conservation measures, are practically commonplace in the U.S. commercial real estate industry. While sustainable devel-opment features such as low-fl ow faucets and Energy Star-rated appliances now have a solid place in the American ver-nacular, solar architecture, beyond high-performance windows and well-placed overhangs, does not. However, courtesy of the work of German architect and solar energy pioneer Rolf Disch of Rolf Disch Solar Architecture, the sun-centric design S concept will certainly become a bright light in the U.S. real estate development industry—eventually. To say that Disch takes the business of energy-effi ciency in design seriously is an understatement. Zero-energy buildings produce an amount of energy equal to the amount they use, but that’s not good enough for the solar energy maverick. “We do more than zero; we have zero-plus in all the projects that we do,” says Dr. Tobias Bube, director of marketing and interna-tional relations for Disch, commenting on behalf of the German-speaking Disch. “We don’t do zero, zero is not enough.” Not only has Disch been a long-time, active proponent of solar architecture, he has taken it to new heights with the de-velopment of Plusenergiehaus, or PlusEn-ergy, a design practice that calls for a property to be supported by 100 percent renewable energy and to generate energy exceeding the total it utilizes. Simply put, the buildings produce more energy than they consume. Naturally, the sun is the central component. In general, solar design capitalizes on the greatest natural energy resource—the sun—to perhaps the highest degree cur-rently possible. The design method, as www.multi-housingnews.com | September 2012 55

Green Beat

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