Since the 1970’s, the city of Freiburg has taken proactive steps to become an eco-friendly city with an ethic of conservation, environmentally-responsible master planning, and development of alternative energies – especially solar.
In 1992, the city council mandated that all new municipal buildings must be “low energy” buildings employing both passive and active solar components. Freiburg’s green ethic goes all the way to the top; the mayor is a member of Bundnis 90/Die Grunen, Germany’s green party.
The Solarsiedlung, or solar village, designed by Freiburg Architect Rolf Disch, is powered by a rooftop solar panel array. Each home is considered a mini power station. Electricity produced by each home feeds into the existing grid contributing a net surplus of power, thus producing revenue for the homeowner.
Hot water is used for heating as well as domestic purposes and comes from solar heated tubes on the roof of an adjacent business park designed by the same Architect.
In the winter months, an on-site heating plant fueled by wood chips supplements the solar hot water heating system.
Rainwater is gathered and utilized for toilets and irrigation. Catching storm water in an urban context helps relieve pressure on the city’s storm water drainage system.
And in any good green building, a whole array of passive measures have been employed such as sun orientation, sunscreens to shade in the summer and let winter sun in, and triple glazing to reduce heat loss.
Natural ventilation is also an integral feature of this new breed of homes – an eternal concept that works as well now as before the days of advanced mechanical systems.
For more on this development, including Sonnenschiff, the solar powered nearby business park and other green urban projects, see the Architect’s website. A link to projects: