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Rolf Disch is one of pioneers of sustainable architecture. For more than 40 years, he has been building “with the sun”. In 1994, he designed the first building worldwide to generate more energy than it consumes, the “Heliotrope”. He then came up with the first “plusenergy” housing estate, the first “plusenergy” commercial and office building. Currently, he is working on several large residential etates (e.g. in Berlin and near Basel), and on a plusenergy refurbishment of a historically listed building, which at the same time will be the first plusenergy house in France. Further projects on different continents are being negotiated right now.
Rolf Dischs approach is to reduce energy comsumption, to supply the demand from renewable sources - and wherever possible to generate a surplus of PV electricity. Of course, the plusenergy concept must be adaptated every time, to take account of the climatic and economic, the social and cultural contexts in each country.
Heliotrope plants have blossoms or leaves, which turn themselves with the rotation of the sun. That is also exactly what the Heliotrope can do!
The Heliotrope was the first home in the world, that produced more energy than it expends: the energy consumption is emission-free, CO2-neutral and 100% regenerative. That was the starting point for the further development into the Rolf Disch Plusenergiehaus®; and a multiple prize winning milestone for climate protection in building.
The cylindrical building has on one side triple-paned thermal insulated glass (U-value 0.5) and is on the other side highly thermally insulated (U-value 0.12). Exposed to the sun with the open fronts special windows, the maximum possible energy and light is let into the home. Reverse for the hot summer days, the house will turn its insulated backside to the sun, to keep the home comfortably cool.
The Solar Settlement is an ensemble of multistory townhomes and a commercial building, the Sun Ship. The 59 homes are divided among 11,000 m2, 9 of which are penthouses on the Sun Ship roof. The single homes range from 75 to 162 m2, all the homes together with over 7,850 m2 of floor space. All of them are PlusEnergy homes, which produce more energy than they consume and whose supplementary income heavily outweighs the low additional costs.
All of the houses are wooden and built only with healthy building materials, all with large photovoltaic roofs as well. The color concept was developed by a Berlin artist, Erich Wiesner. The premises remain auto-free thanks to the parking garage underneath the Sun Ship and the well organized Car-Sharing system.
The Solar Settlement generates 420,000 kWh of solar energy from a total photovoltaic output of about 445 kW peak per year. If one calculates the energy savings from the optimal efficiency, here annually 200,000 liters of oil and 500 tons of CO2 are saved. For the first time worldwide, even until today, PlusEnergy was implemented as a community in Freiburg – receiving heavy worldwide response and exciting awards.
The Sun Ship is the service center for the Solar Settlement in Freiburg – and the first commercial PlusEnergy building. It extends itself over 125 meters along a main road and functions as a sound barrier for the housing community on its opposite side. The Sun Ship is three stories, with a northern front section that is five stories. Embedded in roof garden landscaping, nine exclusive three level penthouses were constructed. In two underground floors you will find storage rooms and a parking garage with 138 parking spaces.