Brick and Structural Clay

SPECIAL REPORT/BRICK & CLAY RECORD: Energy-Efficient Housing Concept

Wienerberger has partnered with heating technology specialists Viessmann Group to enable optimal coordination of all system components.

Climate change, limited resources and rising energy prices are among the greatest challenges of this century. Modern residential construction can play an important role in tackling these challenges. Wienerberger AG has addressed the issue of energy- efficient construction and sustainability for many years. In addition to research and development to optimize existing products and the innovation of new-generation, high-thermal-insulating blocks and efficient construction systems, the group also focuses on developing more energy-efficient and cost-competitive housing concepts.

To that end, Wienerberger has developed the e4-concept for energy-efficient buildings. The concept is based on four key factors.
  • A high-thermal-insulating, solid exterior envelope, built from optimized clay blocks.
  • The use of natural building materials to create a healthy internal climate and high comfort of living.
  • Efficient, climate-friendly and comfortable heating technology for all energy sources from partner companies.
  • Affordable construction cost with minimal maintenance and operating expenses.
In order to accommodate the various construction methods and climatic conditions throughout Europe, and to meet the continent's diverse requirements and standards, the e4-concept will be marketed for a specific national market (e.g., the "Wienerberger Tonhaus" in Germany). These concepts offer developers, builders, architects, and planners complete, uncomplicated, easy-to-use, and individually adaptable solutions that are well thought out-from the planning phase to implementation and operation.

A Solid Foundation

The foundation is always a solid exterior envelope made of innovative high-thermal-insulating Wienerberger blocks, which provide optimal thermal insulation, heat capacity and heat bridge-free details while also creating a natural, healthy room climate. The basic brick structure is combined with efficient and climate-friendly heating equipment made by the Viessmann Group, Allendorf (Eder), Germany, a partner in the e4-housing concept.

"Our vision includes healthy, energy-efficient and sustainable buildings that are both attractive and affordable," said Heimo Scheuch, CEO of Wienerberger AG. "Together with partners, we offer our customers building concepts from a single source that ensure perfect interaction between the high-thermal-insulating clay block structure and dynamic, innovative heating systems. We supply easy-to-use, flexible solutions and design studies, together with suitable product recommendations. The buildings are constructed by experts, developers, architects and planners, with Wienerberger serving as an important reference point as they navigate the maze of different requirements and regulations.

"The next phase of this approach has seen us team up with experts from research institutions and related industries. I am particularly pleased to have found an enthusiastic partner in the Viessmann Group, with which we have already started successful projects in several countries, including Poland, Austria, Germany and Croatia. Together, we have the chance to develop the future direction of construction innovation."

Stefan Heer, CSO and member of the administrative board of Viessmann Werke GmbH & Co. KG, said, "Buildings must meet high standards for energy efficiency and CO2 emissions. This is not only in the interest of economical operations, but also represents a legal requirement. The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) defines strict standards at the European level, which are currently being implemented in the national law of the member states and will require mandatory compliance in just a few years.

"The consequence is that every new house must be viewed and planned holistically from the very beginning as an integrated system consisting of a building structure and envelope, as well as the necessary technology. Only then can the relevant legal requirements be met without immense costs for operation and maintenance after completion."

A Logical Partnership

For Wienerberger and Viessmann, it was an obvious step to combine the strength of both companies. "We have developed a simple building system that can illustrate the complete range of feasible technical options with a limited number of preconfigured modules," Heer said. "The specific equipment is not important-it could include a condensing boiler, biomass boiler or heat pump. Naturally, the concept also covers equipment such as solar plants or ventilation systems that are now the standard in many energy-efficient houses."

Wienerberger says it intends to use the e4-concept to increase awareness of how investors and designers can make a demonstrable contribution to sustainable development through the design, construction, and operation of a building that is both energy efficient and economically viable. Wienerberger's e4-concept provides recommendations for everything from the energy source to construction methods and primary energy consumption, along with an analysis of the relevant costs.

With its comprehensive approach, the e4-concept meets the goals of the energy performance of buildings directive (including Directive 2010/31/EU of the European Parliament and Council dated May 19, 2010, on the energy performance of buildings), which requires a "nearly zero-energy" standard for future buildings, defines total primary energy consumption as a key indicator for analysis, and mandates a "cost-optimal energy efficiency level."

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