Pioneering sustainable buildings

Our founder stated that one experiment is better than a thousand expert views. Through experimental building projects based on the Active House principles we pioneer solutions for better living environments and higher energy efficiency.

 

Strategy and goals

A window is one of the few building components that can provide a positive energy balance by solar heat gain through the pane. We want to make the most of this unique characteristic, and pioneer buildings that give more than they take in terms of indoor climate and environmental impact.

Through a series of Active House projects during the past decade, we have demonstrated how buildings of tomorrow can be built today. Since 2017 the Active House label has been applied in the market as a global quality stamp for comfortable and sustainable buildings. The label is unique in as it advices on elements that are important to humans’ life and wellbeing in buildings.

Most of the buildings that people will live in for many years from now have already been built. In a recent study performed by the Building Performance Institute Europe (BPIE), 97% of these buildings have been classified as energy inefficient. Our strategy therefore includes a special focus on developing sustainable methods for affordable renovation.

 

Activities, performance and next steps

Active House movement in China

Three years ago, VELUX China introduced the Active House vision and building principles to promote interest in architecture balancing health and well-being of people with environmental considerations.    

Among others, VELUX China designed and built their new head office based on Active House principles. Since then, the office building has served as a showcase for smart and healthy building design. In 2017 alone, 4,000 building professionals paid a visit to the office building, which uses only 10% of the energy consumed by a traditional Chinese building. 

At the same time, it provides a refreshing and revitalising indoor climate for the employees, which has reduced the number of sick days by almost 80% thanks to the building’s vastly improved air quality and intelligent ventilation system.

In 2016, the Society of Architects in China decided to establish the Active House Academic Committee to further explore and promote the opportunities for Active House buildings in China. In 2017, VELUX China hosted the official opening ceremony of the Active House Academic Committee, and in 2018 the Committee will promote Active House through a new Active House China Design Competition.

Moreover, VELUX China conducted four training sessions for Active House Verifiers. All in all, 40 people have been trained. Three labelled Active Houses are pipelined so far.

RenovActive renovation methods to be used in 86 Belgian homes

The RenovActive building renovation concept co-developed by the VELUX Group will be applied by Belgian Social Housing Association ‘Le Foyer Anderlechtois’ to renovate 86 of their properties in the Anderlecht area of Brussels. The innovative renovation concept, which balances energy efficiency, indoor comfort and environmental considerations, can be carried out within the budgetary framework of Brussels social housing.

In 2017, the prototype of RenovActive received the Diploma forBest in Renovation awarded by the Active House Alliance. The concept was awarded the diploma for the vast improvement in energy and daylight performance achieved without changing the original architecture. 

We will follow the renovation of the 86 homes closely to gather more information about renovation in accordance with Active House principles. 

Read more about RenovActive 

Sustainable Living in Buildings 

For eight years, the VELUX Group has run a strategic development project entitled Sustainable Living in Buildings. The programme was run into operations in 2017, summarising sustainable building activities from the first experiment in Russia in 1999 to the RenovActive project that paved the way for large-scale renovation of 86 homes in Brussels in the coming years.

Through full-scale building experiments that have been monitored and tested by experts and lived in by people, the programme has brought valuable insights to the VELUX Group on how our products perform, and about user behaviour in buildings. The results have been shared in the international building community, via the Active House Alliance members and forums. One key takeaway is the the intensified focus on healthy homes and buildings, and it has formed the basis of development of the new VELUX ACTIVE product portfolio. 

More specifically, the results of the Sustainable Living in Buildings project were:

  • 1.4 billion readers were reached through 25,200 media articles, posts, videos, etc.
  • 214,000 building owners and professionals were reached through building experiments and communication of results in papers, at events and conferences, etc.
  • The demonstration projects have received more than 30 awards and recognitions.
  • More than 50 scientific papers have been published with results and conclusions from the building experiments.

Attractive container homes for students


The VELUX Group has contributed to CPH Village, a new concept for student housing, consisting of 250 small flats built in scrapped containers. The sustainable container homes can be moved about the city and placed temporarily on free plots of land in the city centre to help solve the need for affordable and attractive dwellings for students.

The first 176 students moved in at the end of 2017 and more container villages in Copenhagen and other cities around the world are scheduled for the coming year. 

VELUX indoor climate specialists and architects have performed analyses of daylight and ventilation in the containers and provided a conceptual layout for placing the containers in flexible modules, while still preserving the possibility of daylight and fresh air through the roof. Each container is fitted with three openable VELUX flat-roof windows.

A Guide to designing Healthy Homes  

2017 saw the preparation of the new handbook, ‘A Guide to Designing Healthy Homes’, targeted at architects and other building professionals. The aim of the handbook is to describe how daylight, thermal comfort and indoor air quality can enhance the indoor comfort and improve the health of the dwellers. 

The handbook is based on Active House principles and links healthy home research to design and product selection in order to promote daylight and fresh air in new builds as well as renovation projects.  

The handbook is due for publication in the spring of 2018.