Sustainable energy in Germany

Wednesday 18 February, 2009

I attended this event last week Sustainable Energy Technology in Germany and the U.S sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education & Research, Baden-Wuerttemberg International, & Research in Germany-Land of Ideas.  Links to the presentations & video of the conference should be available here

Here’s what’s not included in the presentations:

Dirk Lohan of Chicago set the goal, in typical German fashion, to achieve harmony & balance with nature.


  • aim is to make applications for renewables as vast as possible
  • renewables are no longer alternative energy
  • we need to find renewable energy yields every day
  • we need more communication between architects & engineers
  • monitoring is needed to show payback,/ROI,, etc.


  • energy consumption by buildings is the same the world over
  • climates differ, reflected in more humidity here
  • lighting accounts for 26% of commercial energy, which should be simple to economize, e.g. with motion sensors
  • Germany implemented its 1st energy code in 1977, while there is no federal legislation
  • the US is comparable to Europe in green building certification systems-it’s a global movement with LEED adopted in 67 countries
  • drops in the price of oil are bad because they cause less emphasis on conservation


  • projects are 5-6 years in duration so they can be monitored over time
  • solar chillers help with heat in summer
  • 3 years ago they had no energy data from varied automation systems
  • passive consumption is reaching 0
  • triple glazed windows is needed for optimal insulation
  • even if buildings are made airtight, mold problems can develop if ventilation not up to speed
  • heating/electrical varies tremendously, depending on users
  • biomass quality varies, depending on the input
  • to go to net 0, electricity is still required, but can be solved by photovoltaic panels


  • there is no linear relationship between heating a cool space & cooling a warm space
  • there is a variance of +/- 5% for energy radiation


  • they monitor 1300 data points in their low-energy school building
  • heat generated from computers in classrooms is reused

The Germans are way ahead in developing sustainable energy.  We can learn a lot from them, & not just from their technologies & not just from those in Baden Wuertenberg.  Their approach is typically German-comprehensive & long-term.  We can learn from that as well.


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