September 29, 2012

Students of MSc “Renewable Energy in Central & Eastern Europe” visit Europe’s first passive house village in Großschönau, Lower Austria

Students in front of a passive house in Großschönau, Lower Austria

On Saturday, the 22nd of September 2012, the students of class 2011-2013 were on their way to the village of Großschönau in Lower Austria’s “Waldviertel” region. This excursion was planned within the scope of module 5 (“Efficient energy use and thermal building optimization”) of the MSc program “Renewable Energy in Central & Eastern Europe”. The group was welcomed by Großschönau’s mayor, Martin Bruckner who presented his village, his achievements and visions to the group.

Großschönau is working on becoming energy self-sufficient and to become a centre of excellence for energy efficiency. Europe’s first passive-house settlement is located in Großschönau, and the community has set up a visitor and interpretation centre for passive house construction and home restoration projects. Seminars are held on these issues and participants can actually spend the night in some of the erected passive houses.

After lunch the group went on to nearby “Waldland Hof” in the community of Friedersbach near the town of Zwettl. 600 farmers from the Waldviertel region have created a coop called “Waldland” to market their agricultural products and services together. Besides growing many speciality crops likes herbs for medical remidies, they also grow flax. They press the flax plant’s seeds for oil and use the stems to produce flax fabric and flax insulation materials. The flax insulation materials are quality controlled and certified as organic construction materials and can be readily used in construction or restoration projects as an alternative substitute to energy intensive and itchy mineral wool.

Waldland also operates a garage for retrofitting trucks and tractors, so they can use cold pressed pure plant oil as fuel. All it takes is to change the vehicles computer settings for the fuel injection pump.

It was an interesting excursion that gave insights on energy efficiency, alternative building concepts and materials.


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