'Let the sun shine in' was clearly the theme behind the carbon neutral, Sunlighthouse in Pressbaum, Austria. Designed by Juri Troy Architects with the help of Velux and Danube University of Krems, the single family home is a model for energy efficiency, solar design and daylighting. Located on a less than ideal building site, the Sunlighthouse is flooded with natural sunlight and generates more than enough power through rooftop solar systems and a geothermal heat pump.
The site for the Sunlighthouse is on a narrow sloped lot outside of Pressbaum to the west of Vienna. The less than ideal orientation and not much southern exposure made it challenging to utilize solar passive design. Instead the Juri Troy team had to get creative to ensure that the home received ample daylight and had a spot for the photovoltaic and thermal solar systems to generate energy. The resulting design came about through careful analysis of the site, optimization of the envelope, orientation for the solar systems and windows as well as taking into account the views of the surrounding mountains.
While not a Passive House, the home strives for many of the same strategies like a tight thermal envelope with a high level of insulation achieved with sheep wool and recycled cellulose. Windows meet Passive House standards, but in this case there are many more, and the Sunlighthouse’s total window area is equal to 42% of its floor area. Daylight reaches every room in the house providing a bright interior, which is complimented by sustainably harvested wood cabinetry finished with natural oils. A high performing geothermal heat pump system is coupled with a controlled air system with heat recovery along with natural ventilation in the summer, LED lighting and energy efficient appliances to reduce energy use. Finally, the home is topped with a 43 m² mono crystalline photovoltaic system and 8 m² thermal solar panels for hot water.
In the end, the home generates more power than it uses, which will help take reduce the carbon emissions from construction. The award winning home is a great example of how highly energy efficient homes can be built in any situation – even if they aren’t flat, south-facing lots.
Images ©Adam Mork