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Welcome to the SWIVT website: District energy modules for existing residential areas – Impulses for linking energy efficient technologies

Within the scope of the 6th Energy Research Programme of the German Federal Government
Within the scope of the 6th Energy Research Programme of the German Federal Government

In this research project, the energy balance is improved by at least 30% compared to conventional refurbishment with minimal intervention in the existing housing stock using the example of a real existing housing estate from the 1950s in Darmstadt. Germany´s housing stock represents a critical mass for the energy policy goals of halving Germany's primary energy requirements by 2050 and increasing the share of renewable energies in gross final energy consumption to 60%. Buildings and districts account for almost 40% of primary energy consumption, of which almost 70% is thermal energy. Many of the approximately 19 million residential buildings in Germany are only partially or not at all renovated in terms of energy, and up to 80% of the energy requirement could be saved here. However, the refurbishment rate is currently too low to meet the planned targets. Highly time-consuming and planning-intensive support measures, complex legal requirements, together with a partly problematic handling of façade insulation (e. g. for the preservation of historical monuments) have halted investments in this area. Strategies for local energy generation and storage are playing an increasingly important role in significantly reducing the primary energy consumption of the building.

The aim of the project is the innovative energetic full refurbishment of a housing estate, which is operated by an integrated system for the generation, storage and integration of renewable energies.

Technologies for CO2-minimized energy supply in buildings are available, but there is no integral concept that combines these systems in a practical application. The objective of the SWIVT project is to develop a combined energy and renovation concept for existing buildings using new energy technologies at the residential level. On the one hand, the existing housing stock is being fundamentally refurbished by measures to reduce energy consumption and to compress it through new, energy-efficient living space; on the other hand, buildings are being energetically linked and coupled with innovative technologies for the generation, storage and distribution of heat and electricity. A control unit optimizes the energy supply of the settlement after CO2-minimization and economical management of the system. Close cooperation with property developers and energy suppliers means that the conceptual design is based on real consumption data as well as inventory data.

Guiding principle for the overall concept of SWIVT. Picture: TU Darmstadt, ISM+D
Guiding principle for the overall concept of SWIVT. Picture: TU Darmstadt, ISM+D

SWIVT envisages the subsequent densification of an existing settlement with an energy-positive district module, which will enable efficient decentralized energy generation and distribution. In addition to high-quality living space, this district module consists of innovative components for the generation, storage and connection of electricity and heat as well as all control components. This can considerably improve the energy balance of the housing estate in one step and minimize the impact of the existing housing stock. The district module acts as a generator of sustainable neighbourhood development by improving the acceptance of innovative technologies such as energy storage systems. Due to the balancing at residential level of differently efficient living areas and heating systems, the use of existing environmental energy and the resulting structural thermal insulation, not every building forms an energetic unit for itself, but a group of buildings form an energetic unit together. The energetic combination of buildings creates synergies that make it possible to exploit the potential for resource savings and efficiency. The integration of different disciplines and actors into a systematic approach presents challenges that offer great opportunities for innovation. The ensuing energetic transformation of an existing neighbourhood serves as a research object and model for sustainable urban development.

Aerial photo of the social housing complex with blue bordered planning area. Picture: TU Darmstadt
Aerial photo of the social housing complex with blue bordered planning area. Picture: TU Darmstadt
The SWIVT vision of an energetic refurbishment: Not only to create valuable living space and drastically reduce energy consumption, but also to integrate components for renewable energy generation, storage and connection in a system controlled at settlement scale. Picture: TU Darmstadt, ISM+D
The SWIVT vision of an energetic refurbishment: Not only to create valuable living space and drastically reduce energy consumption, but also to integrate components for renewable energy generation, storage and connection in a system controlled at settlement scale. Picture: TU Darmstadt, ISM+D