Ground breaking of Austria´s first carbon-neutral one-family house


On 22 April 2010, the ground-breaking ceremony for Austria's first carbon-neutral one-family house, Sunlighthouse, took place in Pressbaum near Vienna.

The holistic concept of the house has already been awarded the Austrian State Prize for Environment and Energy Technology.

Taking an active part in developing sustainable buildings, the VELUX Group has launched the project Model Home 2020. Six full-scale experimental demo-houses are being built in five European countries from 2008 to 2011. Sunlighthouse, near Vienna, will be the third demo-house to realise the VELUX vision of carbon-neutral buildings that combine efficient energy design with a high degree of habitability and minimum climate impact. The Austrian house is designed to produce so much renewable energy with photovoltaics and solar heat that it will cancel out all CO2 emissions arising from its operation and construction – including production, transport and future disposal - within the next 30 years.

Numerous guests took part in the ceremony. Among them the Danish Ambassador to Austria, S.E. Hugo Østergaard-Andersen, who praised the exemplary project and emphasised the leading role of the VELUX Group in sustainable buildings. Together with Michael Walter, General Manager of VELUX Austria, Josef Schmidl-Haberleitner, mayor of Pressbaum, the architect Juri Troy and the General Managers of VELUX Hungary and VELUX Slovenia, Mads K. Rasmussen and Vojko Golmajer, he wielded the spade for the official ground breaking of Sunlighthouse. Furthermore, as a symbol of the ecological footprint of this unique building, the guests of honour left their individual footprints in a special concrete slab.

One experiment is better than a thousand expert views
More than half a century ago, VELUX founder Villum Kann Rasmussen made the statement that "one experiment is better than a thousand expert views". This principle is just as valid today and will be applied to the six houses of the Model Home 2020 project. The objective is to gain information and experience on how future buildings in different regions with different climates, cultures and architectural conditions, can be both climate-neutral and comfortable.

"For the Austrian project we have deliberately chosen a plot that is typical of the sometimes difficult conditions of mountainous regions," explains VELUX Austria General Manager Michael Walter. "The idea is to demonstrate that even under these challenging conditions it is possible to build sustainable constructions by balancing energy, environment and indoor climate with plenty of daylight and fresh air."

Exceptional levels of daylight
Thanks to the interdisciplinary cooperation between VELUX Austria, the Danube University Krems and the Austrian Institute for Building physics (IBO), a tailor-made, scientifically sound concept has been created together with the architect. Confronted with the high degree of shadow on this construction site, the architect Hein-Troy had to come up with some creative ideas for getting more daylight into the house. A very sophisticated window configuration - of the roof windows as well as the vertical elements – will provide the different levels of Sunlighthouse with plenty of daylight and ensure a positive effect on the health and well-being of the residents.

Completed in autumn 2010
Sunlighthouse is expected to be completed in the autumn of 2010 and will then be open to the public for several months, after which it will be sold. VELUX Austria will continue to monitor the experiment with the new residents in order to learn how the building performs in real-life conditions.