Twelve entrants from four states are in the final of the ‘Refurbishment Heroes’ competition organised by the Deutsche Energie-Agentur (dena), German Energy Agency. The finalists are competing for prize money totalling €20,000. The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on 23 June in Berlin. The ‘Refurbishment Heroes’ awards will take place along with the presentation of the KfW Group’s ‘Building and Living’ awards.
At the beginning of the year dena invited private homeowners to submit their best true stories about the energy-efficient modernisation of their own homes. The finalists are from Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia and Saxony.
Detailed multimedia reports on the finalists and their stories can be found at www.sanierungshelden.de.
Stuttgart: A house with that little extra
Using less energy, being more independent and giving an old building a facelift – those were the aims of the Nusser family from the south of Stuttgart. Since the modernisation, thanks to a photovoltaic system, their 60-year-old detached house has been producing more energy than the Nussers need. It’s a so-called ‘energy-efficient house plus’. The ceramic cladding on the old oil heaters has been retained and still bears witness to the energy supply of the past; but the Nussers now only use them as a decorative design feature and for playing hide-and-seek with the children.
Neuenstein: Favourite place, the boiler room
During the refurbishment, the favourite place of Markus Kästle from Neuenstein (district of Hohenlohe) was the boiler room. That was where he regularly checked the energy output of his technological masterpiece. Kästle and his family didn’t just change their old oil heater – they came up with an environmentally friendly, as well as innovative, concept for their home heating. The Kästles generate energy by means of a modern fuel cell that produces electricity and heat from hydrogen and oxygen. The house is also heated by a gas boiler, a solar heating system, a heat pump and a fireplace.
Weil der Stadt: Back to the place where he grew up
Rainer Schwab moved back to his home town. Together with his family, he bought a 1950s semi-detached house in Weil der Stadt (Böblingen district). The house is only 300 metres from his parents’ house, where he grew up. With the help of an energy consultant, the Schwabs transformed the semi-detached house into a modern, energy-efficient home. For the new heat pump it was necessary to drill down 120 metres to make use of the geothermal energy for heating.
Freiburg: A heritage-listed Black Forest farm modified for energy efficiency
A building with the wow factor. Along with his energy consultant and architect, Volker Winkelhahn, Peter Stoll from Freiburg undertook the energy-efficient modernisation of a 300-year-old heritage-listed Black Forest farm. The farm is situated high up in a clearing in the Upper Attental and can only be reached via forest tracks.
Münnerstadt: Surprising finds while refurbishing a historic building
Christina and Oliver Schikora from Münnerstadt (Bad Kissingen district) transformed a 17th century heritage-listed, half-timbered house into a modern, low-energy house. During the refurbishment work they came across some astonishing historical finds. Among these the carpenters found a message in a bottle hidden beneath the floorboards. It contained the foundation document of a ‘gang’ of young grammar school pupils from the year 1873.
Immenstadt: Patience exercised, climbing expedition survived, money saved
The Greising family from Immenstadt (Oberallgäu district) showed a great deal of patience during their energy-saving refurbishment. The Greisings modernised their more than 100-year-old timber house little by little over several years, getting stuck into the work themselves and saving on costs. The family even embarked on a month-long climbing expedition. During the renovation of the staircase, the family members were only able to get to their upstairs bedrooms by using ladders. The results, though, are impressive. Whereas the man of the house would sometimes freeze in his study at temperatures of around four degrees, today all rooms provide a comfortable climate in which to live.
Erlangen: Student flatmates save money by refurbishing windows
‘Apfel-WG’ (‘Apple Flatmates’) are what Jorge Luis Peña and his housemates in Apfelstrasse, Erlangen, call themselves. It’s a truly traditional flat-sharing arrangement, as the flat, in an 18th century rented house in the Old Town, has been an affordable place for students to stay for more than 20 years. However, the high heating costs burned a hole in Juarez Peña’s and his four flatmates’ tight budget. Now that the decades-old windows have been replaced with modern triple glazing, the flatmates need a lot less heating. The money saved can now be used for other things.
Bochum: Family tradition catches up with the energy-efficient modern world
The house belonging to the Wetterich family in Bochum has been in the family for more than 140 years. Built by their great-grandfather in 1874, the building that is now occupied by his great-grandchildren has been completely refurbished and brought into line with the energy-efficient modern world. Even today, three generations live under the same roof. The grandmother, who lives on the ground floor, was sceptical at first and needed some gentle persuasion before accepting her grandchildren’s extensive refurbishment plans. But afterwards she became an important source of moral support, repeatedly encouraging the builders who were doing much of the work on their own home. Even mishaps like accidentally making a hole in the ceiling couldn’t prevent the family from succeeding in their joint project.
Bochum: A ‘treasure’ makes refurbishment possible
Jana and Thomas Deickert – also from Bochum – had their hands full with the refurbishment of the 1960s detached house that they bought in 2010. No easy task, when you have two small children. But then they found their ‘treasure’, as Jana Deickert puts it. By chance they met Evelin Wehling, who, out of the blue, offered to help look after the children. During the refurbishment work the Deickerts knew that, from then on, their one- and three-year-old daughters would be in the safe care of Ms Wehling. Today, as both agree, a true friendship has flourished from that.
Odenthal: From a ‘cardboard house’ to an energy-efficient gem
The Dehler family from Odenthal (Rheinisch-Bergisch district) took a chance. Ideal for ‘nature lovers and artisans’, said the newspaper ad for the small house at the edge of the forest, which the family bought. On seeing all of the chipboard panels, lots of people joked that it was a ‘cardboard house’. Without being craftspeople themselves, the Dehlers transformed the seventies’ building over a period of ten years into a chic Swedish-style house. The modernisation reduced the family’s energy consumption by almost two thirds.
Erftstadt: Landing on their feet in the energy-efficient house
The Jacobis from Erftstadt (Rhein-Erft district) landed perfectly on their feet. Three days before the birth of their daughter, Emma, they were able to move into their own newly refurbished, energy-efficient home. The terraced house, modernised to meet the KfW’s exacting Energy-Efficient House Standard 55, now needs even less energy than many new buildings. Architect Gudrun Langmack played an important role in that, supporting the builders by means of energy consultation, in technical planning and during construction.
Leipzig: No off-the-peg house
The Bucheles from Leipzig’s southern suburbs had really only planned to rebuild their roof to make space for the children. At the same time, the family of five also wanted to do something about their high heating costs. So they decided there and then to pull out all the stops in terms of energy saving and convert their house into an energy-efficient house. As the father Kai-Thorsten Buchele is a real DIY enthusiast, he was able to do a lot of things himself. Of course, his talent for improvisation was in great demand. While the roof was being put in place, the Bucheles had to sleep together for a time around the fireplace. It was certainly very cosy. The father tells how the children discovered a passion for camping holidays. Energy consultant Thomas Langer supported the family throughout the refurbishment. When Langer took a close look at the Bucheles’ house for the first time, he was quite amazed, because it actually consisted of three parts. The oldest was built in 1949, back in the days of the GDR.
Extensions were added in the 1970s and 1990s, all with different standards of construction. It was ‘no off-the-peg house’, declared the energy consultant, but a real challenge.
About the ‘Refurbishment Heroes’ competition
Entry was open to homeowners who had either completely refurbished their house, had implemented individual measures, such as the installation of a modern heating system, heat insulation or replacement windows, or who were using renewable energy. A high-profile jury consisting of experts from federal ministries and professional and cultural circles chose the best stories. Among the jurors are cabaret artist and storyteller Horst Evers and film director Dennis Gansel (Die Welle – The Wave).
The ‘Refurbishment Heroes’ competition is part of the nationwide campaign, ‘The Building Transition’, which was established by the Allianz für Gebäude-Energie-Effizienz (geea) – Alliance for Building Energy Efficiency, for the purpose of providing home owners with information on energy-efficient refurbishment. Besides dena, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is involved, as are companies and associations from the relevant industries. The competition is also supported by media partners, n-tv and enbausa.de, and is being run in cooperation with the KfW Group, which promotes energy-efficient construction and refurbishment.
Note for editorial staff: If you would like to report on the finalists, we will gladly contact the entrants in the ‘Refurbishment Heroes’ competition. We will also be happy to make photographic material available.