Ecological housing concentrates on minimising energy consumption and has reached ‘low energy’, ‘zero energy’ and even ‘plus energy’ levels. However, neither the ecological nor the socioeconomic impacts of construction materials, including insulation, or the ‘end-of-life’ phase have received sufficient attention. Furthermore, electricity consumption has not yet been adequately included in the design of buildings.
The overall objective of the LIFE Cycle Habitation project is to demonstrate innovative building concepts that significantly reduce CO2 emissions and contain a minimum of grey energy over their entire lifecycle. The ultimate goal is to design and build prototypes for carbon-neutral and ‘LIFE cycle’-oriented residential buildings, and to make energy-efficient settlements the standard, in line with EU 2020 objectives. To this end, an energy-efficient compound, consisting of six residential units and a community centre, will be built in Traismauer, Lower Austria. These buildings will incorporate straw bales and be of different innovative construction types. They will utilise a highly innovative, energy-supply system. The aim is for renewable resources to be used to generate thermal energy and also additional electrical energy. This represents a milestone in sustainable building, with a great potential for replication and up-scaling.