Our little village of Brütten is at the forefront of the march to reduce global co2 emissions with the creation of the first solar powered zero emission housing complex in the world!
On November 19, 2015, around 150 guests celebrated the ‘topping out’ ceremony when the structural work and timber work truss were erected and by last summer residents were able to move into the nine family sized zero-emission flats, which are not linked to any electrical, oil or gas connections – and not even wood is allowed as fuel.
Brütten is an ideal location as it lies 640 m above sea level and is above the fog line, as well as being on the main thoroughfare between Zürich and Winterthur.
To maximize the collection of solar energy, the most efficient solar panels are utilized to line the entire facade of the building, turning the building essentially into a power plant. Energy consumption is kept to a minimum using LED lights and A+++ household appliances.
Just one hour of sunlight is apparently sufficient to provide for a whole day's energy needs. However, as Brütten averages eight hours of sunlight in summer, the excess energy can be stored in batteries for short term use of three to four days. Alternatively, the photovoltaic energy can be converted into hydrogen for long-term storage of up to 25 days (often necessary in December and January to bridge the low sunlight gap)
The building also has a built-in information system helping the residents optimize their energy usage of warm water, lighting and heating, PCs and other electrical devices.
The architecture, designed by René Schmid Architekten, is an incredible example of great design and technique. The building is not only technically efficient but also beautifully designed with warm colours and rooms allowing plenty of sunlight.
Residents are also obliged to use energy saving transportation, comprising two motor vehicles: a car which runs on bio fuel and an electrical car powered by the building's photovoltaic equipment. Biological waste from the residents is transferred to a special bio fuel converter.
This building concept is based upon the principles of “collect, accumulate, save and conscientious energy usage” without any loss of comfort. Although no advertising was made, more than 100 rental inquiries were made before the flats (consisting of 7 x 4.5, 1 x 3.5, 1 x 2.5 rooms) were completed.
The apartment rents are very reasonable - with CHF 2500 for a 4.5 room apartment, which includes energy usage based on a bonus system. Tenants are forced to live a lifestyle with a low energy footprint as they only have as much energy as the building is able to produce and store. They quite literally are the pioneers of homes of the future.