In a first for Germany, the Chamber of Crafts in the city of Trier has built its new training centre to the Passive House standard and been commended by the state prime minister as a “Passive House masterpiece”. 

The campus consists of 26 workshops, more than 400 workshop spaces, 180 trainee places and a canteen, the idea being to make apprenticeships more attractive.

The new building is meant to be future-oriented and uses significantly less energy compared to the previous structures from the 1960s and 1970s.

It is the only training centre to be built to the highly energy efficient Passive House standard in Germany to date. 

“This beacon project with numerous workshops, and therefore special requirements, demonstrates that even extremely complex buildings can be built in an energy efficient manner,” Passive House Institute senior scientist and managing director Jessica Grove-Smith said. 

“We hope that this project will be followed by many others.”

The training centre will also help to meet the shortage of skilled workers, emphasised the president of the Chamber of Crafts in Trier, Rudi Müller.

Apprentices can acquire master crafts qualifications in eleven trade disciplines, many of which are essential to a low carbon future, including electrical engineering, automotive mechatronics, plumbing, heating and air-conditioning, metal-working and dental technology.

Students and teachers also benefit from the healthy indoor climate inside the highly energy efficient building. 

“We got all stakeholders on board right from the start and asked them what they needed in the new building. That was an important process,” project head and Trier Chamber of Crafts director Thomas Sandner said.

“The effort has paid off; we are all benefiting from our modern and climate-friendly building.”

Renewable energy

A photovoltaic system on the roof of the new building meets part of the electricity demand.

The workshops were relocated to the new building in 2019, so the building has already been tested in everyday use. The official inauguration of the campus was delayed due to the pandemic. 

Mr Sandner said the training centre has performed comparatively well throughout this pandemic – yet another advantage of the excellent ventilation system in the building. Good ventilation can remove pathogens from the air.

The building comes with an easy-to-understand handbook so that users can familiarise themselves with it. 

According to Mr Sandner, other Chambers of Crafts whose buildings are in need of modernisation have already expressed interest in examining the model project in Trier.

#EfficiencyNOW and passive house

The call of the hour is to save fossil energy. To achieve this, the Passive House Institute has started the #EfficiencyNOW campaign.

The research institute demonstrates how each one of us can contribute towards becoming more independent of fossil fuel energy, and ultimately phasing it out altogether.

With the Passive House concept, the heat loss that typically takes place in buildings through the walls, windows and roof is drastically reduced. 

By applying the five basic principles a Passive House building needs very little energy:

1. excellent thermal insulation 

2. windows with triple glazing

3. a ventilation system with heat recovery

4. avoidance of thermal bridges

5. an airtight building envelope 

For this reason, Passive House buildings can dispense with a traditional heating system.

A major part of their heating demand is met through “passive” sources such as solar radiation or the heat emitted by occupants and technical appliances.

In winter the heat is retained for a very long time since it escapes very slowly. 

In the summer (and in hot climates), the excellent level of insulation ensures that the heat stays outside. 

Therefore, active cooling usually isn’t necessary in residential buildings. 

Predictable low energy costs

Due to the low energy costs, the utility costs are predictable – which is a fundamental principle for affordable homes and social housing – justifying the slightly higher build cost. 

The Passive House standard meets the requirements of the EU for Nearly Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB).

The Passive House standard and generation of renewable energy directly on-site or near the building is a good combination. 

The world’s first Passive House building in Darmstadt has also been producing renewable energy since 2015 by means of a subsequently installed photovoltaic system, and received the Passive House Plus certificate for this reason.

Passive House buildings for all types of uses now exist everywhere. In addition to residential and office buildings, there are also kindergartens and schools, sports halls, swimming pools and factories. 

The first Passive House hospital has just received its certificate and starts operation in Frankfurt in Autumn 2022.

The Passive House Institute was founded by Professor Wolfgang Feist in 1996 as an independent research institute. The Institute holds a leading position with regard to research and development in the field of energy efficient building construction and deep retrofits.

The network @the_iPHA – international Passive House Association – is an important contact point for all those involved in construction for conveying knowledge relating to highly energy efficient construction and retrofits, as well as networking.

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