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Talk G. Bertsch

Mr. Gebard Bertsch is an expert in environmentally friendly construction controlling. We asked him his opinion on some ecological subjects and the Passive House in general.

Bertsch tells us that every Passive House has an air ventilation system with heat recovery.  In the summer, the cooling load is led through a  spring where the temperature of the water is 7 degrees and the cooled air is blown into the rooms at a temperature of about 23° Celsius.  During the winter, the same spring is used to warm the air.  If the temperature outside is -10° Celsius, the air is warmed to about 5°.  The discharged heat recovery air then warms the air temperature to about 18° - 20° Celsius and the rest of the heating is taken over by the town‘s own heating network in the form of a wood chip plant close by.  I don‘t know of any other buildings of this size in the German speaking part of Europe that use this kind of heating system.  Most of the facilities use heat pumps.

The building was constructed using the Ecological Guidelines: Construction published by the Environmental Association, Vorarlberg.  The guidelines have very strict criteria.  All of the acquired materials are tested for their pollution content. For example, the existence of  polyurethane foam or harmful bonding agents is looked for.  This means that the craftspeople are thoroughly checked to make sure that they bring the environmentally compatible materials to the construction site that were ordered.  Up until now, buildings were only tested for the existence of harmful pollutants if the owners made a complaint.  We go into the building two or three weeks after it has started operating and test for pollutants.  We assume that the results will be quite low.  

The project is part of the research program „House of the Future“.  There is a work group within the program that deals with material inspections.  The inspections are done by checking the article description of the materials that are brought to the construction site and comparing them to a check-list.  The whole building is built PVC free, which means it is especially important to inspect electric cables.

Basically, there are two strategies to keep the pollutants to a minimum.  The first way is the choice of materials, where attention is paid the amount, or non-existence of solvents or formaldehyde in the materials.  The second way is to use materials that bind active pollutants and afterwards to purify the air.  In this building, for example, a large amount of sheep‘s wool was used for insulation.  This is a natural fibre which has the ability to bind solvents and formaldehyde and therefore improve the quality of the air.

Taste 6