Exterior view of the EE module façade with room-high PV element, © Fraunhofer IBP

Buildings account for a significant share of the total energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions in Germany. In order to become climate neutral, it is necessary to create an energy turnaround. However, the renovation rate in the building sector is currently still too low to achieve the envisaged goals. It could be increased by using a larger proportion of prefabricated building components. Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP and for Energy Economics and Energy Systems Technology IEE are currently developing a so-called EE module façade (renewable energy module façade), which supplies the building with environmentally friendly electricity and thus heats, cools and ventilates the rooms. The system can be used to renovate existing façades, but also to equip new buildings.

At the heart of the module is a photovoltaic system combined with a heat pump as a highly efficient heat and cold generator, as well as a decentralised ventilation unit with heat recovery. The entire system technology required for operation is housed in the EE module façade element. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy BMWi is funding the joint research project. The project partners are Implenia Fassadentechnik GmbH as the designer of the EE module façade. The company Lare GmbH Luft- und Kältetechnik is developing the heat pump, and LTG AG is adding the area of decentralised ventilation.

The goal of the research project is to renovate as “minimally invasive” as possible: “We are not renovating the entire building, but only the façade. In the future, the old façade will be replaced by new industrially prefabricated modules with integrated plant technology, which will thus make it multifunctional and adapt it to the new energy standards,” explains Jan Kaiser, who is leading the project at Fraunhofer IEE. The EE module façade is particularly suitable for office buildings, administrative buildings and schools built using skeleton construction methods. Since the modules can be prefabricated, there is a clearly defined cost framework for planners and investors. A technical unit of the EE module façade is 1.25 m wide and 30 cm deep and can supply a room of approximately 24 m². Since no new pipes have to be laid, the replacement takes only a few hours. The façade only needs to have a power connection so that the rooms can be air-conditioned and ventilated even without PV power. Ideally, the users of the rooms will not even have to move out during the renovation.

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