Six unique CO2-neutral houses in five EU countries

When the sixth full-scale experimental building opens in France next week, the VELUX Group will have completed its Model Home 2020 project, based on a vision for CO2-neutral buildings with a high level of liveability.

For the last two years, the VELUX Group has developed and tested five buildings following a strategy to take an active part in designing sustainable buildings. All Model Homes demonstrate how it is possible to build CO2-neutral houses with the materials we have today, without comprising indoor climate and comfort.

"If we can duplicate this demonstration to other buildings, we will be able dramatically to decrease CO2 emissions from buildings, which account for almost 40% of total energy consumption in Europe," says Michael K. Rasmussen, Senior Vice President of the VELUX Group.

Model Home 2020 is a part of the VELUX Group strategy to take an active part in developing future sustainable buildings that are attractive places to live in with plenty of daylight."We believe we have produced a viable alternative model for future CO2-neutral homes that will be popular with the homeowner. So based on the experiences and monitoring of the houses we have begun talks with house builders and architects to obtain their feedback on the possible use of this model going forward," says Michael K. Rasmussen.

The first two houses opened in Denmark in 2009. The first was a single-family house, Home for Life, which produces more energy than it consumes thanks to solar thermal heating, heat pumps and low-energy windows; the next was Green Lighthouse, the first public CO2-neutral building in Denmark. It acts as a lighthouse for CO2-neutral public construction work and is a unique textbook example of public-private partnership.

While the Austrian Sunlighthouse also features a new build single-family house, the German LichtAktiv Haus illustrates a different approach to the challenge of carbon neutrality. Through an innovative modernisation strategy, this project has transformed a 50-year-old traditional semi-detached house into an appealing home with maximum liveability and optimum energy efficiency.

In the UK, two CO2-neutral houses have, in their own way, addressed the dual challenges of energy design and liveability. Similarly, the final house, Maison Air et Lumière, in France will constitute a new generation of active house designed with the residents' quality of life in mind.

All houses are monitored and occupied by test families for the first year. This provides a range of valuable data and experiences of the houses' performance and how the design is perceived in real life. These data are currently being collated while the post-occupation monitoring will provide further insight into the homes' level of success.

About Model Home 2020
Model Home 2020 is an experiment launched by the VELUX Group as part of our strategy to take an active part in developing sustainable buildings for the future. It is our vision of how future buildings can be both climate-neutral and comfortable and attractive places to live in through daylight and fresh air. The project is in full accordance with the next generation of design principles frequently referred to as 'active house' ( The objective is to achieve a balance between energy efficiency and optimal indoor climate with a building that dynamically adjusts to its surroundings and yet is climate-neutral.

Model Home 2020 comprises six demonstration projects. The two experiments in Denmark were built in a partnership between the VELUX Group and VELFAC. Each of the Model Home projects was implemented in close cooperation with local and regional partners, suppliers, architects, engineers and researchers.

In the VELUX Group, we believe that one experiment is better than a thousand expert views. Each building must reflect and respond to the different climatic, cultural and architectural conditions of the countries in which they are built. The houses will be open to the public for 6-12 months after completion and then sold. Each house will be monitored during occupancy to learn how the experiments turn out in real-life conditions. The houses in Denmark – Home for Life in Aarhus and Green Lighthouse in Copenhagen – have been in use for two years, those in Germany, Austria and UK opened in 2010 and 2011, and France will follow in October 2011.