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M1 energy-plus house

A totally normal family home made out of white Ytong blocks that produces more energy than it consumes and is at the same time not much more expensive than a conventional new build. That’s the vision of Dieter Stricker, authorised signatory at Elbe-Haus®. He set up a project group with several construction partners and built a prototype near Berlin: the M1 house. It has been lived in since December 2012, it should result in a house that is ready to go into production within two years.

A totally normal family home made out of white Ytong blocks that produces more energy than it consumes and is at the same time not much more expensive than a conventional new build. Unrealistic? A pure pipe dream for the future? Not if it’s up to Dieter Stricker. The authorised signatory at the Elbe-Haus construction company has made precisely this his mission.
Back in 2009, long before the “energy revolution” was on everyone’s lips, Stricker started to take on this construction and financial challenge with the M1 project team. Right from the start it was obvious that the defined goal would only be realised if all the parties involved in the construction process pull together. Stricker set up a working party with various construction partners. These included the building materials company Xella from Duisburg, which produces the well-known Ytong block, the heating technology specialist Multitherm, the photovoltaic supplier Multiwatt, the architectural firm Form Nord and the construction planning and structural engineering firm Wolfgang Tomson. “We had previously always discussed the theory of how to build energy efficiently a great deal,” says Stricker. “But ultimately we wanted to do something practical for once.”

The “practical” result of the working group bears the short and sweet name M1 and can be seen in the Berlin suburbs of Brieselang since December 2012: An almost ordinary looking stone family home with 132 m2 living area and a 830 m2 plot area. Almost ordinary because if you look closer you notice the large 42 m2 photovoltaic system and parking space with electric car as distinctive features to the neighbouring houses. “What is special about our house is not the technologies in themselves,” explains Dietmar Stricker, “but the interplay and unification into a cohesive whole.” Everyone involved in the working group contributed one piece of the puzzle to make up the big picture in the end.

A thermally insulating foundation slab, which you could say puts “warm shoes” on the house, as well as a lighting concept with LEDs and motion sensors came from Elbe-Haus®. Xella installed a new Ytong insulating block for the first time in Germany. The project partner Multitherm produced the heating and ventilation system, Multiwatt supplied the photovoltaic system and a lithium-ion storage unit. This kind of storage unit would currently still cost about EUR 40,000 on the market. To much to be an attractive option for the average house builder in terms of procurement price and amortisation period. However, the people involved are confident that the storage unit prices will drop considerably in the long-term.

The bottom line is that the construction of the house in Brieselang totalled approx. EUR 270,000. EUR 70,000 of this was covered by subsidies from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, which corresponds to the maximum funding rate. However, Stricker would like to be able to offer a comparable house for less than EUR 200,000 within two years. Then he would have achieved his goal and would finally be equal to the building costs for a regular family home.

To get there numerous data is still being collected and analysed in Brieselang during the two-year project period until February 2015, which should answer some of the key questions along the road to building the series house. Is it worth using solar thermal energy? Is a lithium-ion storage unit economical or is a lead battery ultimately the more sensible and/or economical option?

To answer these questions the M1 working group is receiving great support from the Zeppan family who live in the house. The family of three beat 70 competitors in the Elbe-Haus® casting and are now allowed to live in the house in Brieselang rent free with the obligation to regularly share the consumption data. The electric car, which they are free to use, is “fuelled” with solar energy from the car port’s roof. When the test phase expires in March 2015 the family will be given the option to buy the house.

The intensive research and development work that the project partners are doing just outside Berlin has not least an economic background. The requirements for homes are changing. Markus Fahrenkrug, CEO of Multiwatt, gets right to the heart of the matter: for his own private household alone he worked out a energy costs increase of 600 percent in less than 15 years. Many house owners have not even noticed this explosion in costs, says Fahrenkrug. “But if we think another 15 years ahead, we cannot avoid the topic of energy begging the question: How much will a new house cost me then? How can I even pay for it?”

With the M1 house we would like to get a little bit closer to the answer. “We are not claiming to do everything the same as now in Brieselang later on,” emphasises Dieter Stricker. “We simply want to show that it is possible to build an inconspicuous solid masonry family home that generates more energy than it consumes.”

Stricker is convinced that these energy-plus houses are part of our future. “We do have passive-energy houses in our range but these are ultimately just an intermediate step,” is the conclusion. The solution of your own little house in the green countryside then finally becomes your own little green house.

Energy Award 2013
The project was awarded with the Energy Awards 2013 in Berlin on 14 November 2013. People, projects and companies are awarded in four categories: Etogas as “Energy Start-Up of the Year”, Stadtwerke Karlsruhe with the “Commercial Installation of the Year”, the M1 house as “Energy-efficient House of the Year” and the Flinc company as “Means of Transport of the Year”. The American economist Jeremy Rifkin received the special award as “Energizer of the Year”.
The winners of the Energy Awards are chosen every year by a forum of experts, which consists of dozens of specialists from all disciplines in the energy industry: the Energy Academy. As the think tank of the energy sector it is supposed to also provide inspiration for the energy revolution through the Energy Awards.

Energy-efficient House of the Year
Are your four walls smart? Do you heat your house using solar energy or do you have a house with innovative energy storage? Then apply for the Energy Award in the “Energy-efficient House of the Year” category.
A jury of renowned representatives from the energy industry, the Energy Academy, presents this award to the most progressive privately-owned house of the year. The winner can enjoy prize money of EUR 10,000 in cash. The ENERGIESPAREN magazine published by Bellevue And More will also report extensively on the winning concept. With the Energy Awards, the initiators Handelsblatt and GE, the business partners Deutsche Post DHL, McDonald’s and BearingPoint and the media partners Bellevue And More, n-tv and Energate want to set a clear sign of commitment to the energy revolution, enter into dialogue across industries and provide the stage for future winning projects that they deserve.
By Lukas Kirchner – abbreviated version
Photos: Andreas Labes

Film at:
http://www.energyawards.de/awards/die-finalisten-2013/m1-haus/