Covestro future house: Commercial building becomes a power plant

World première at Innovation City Bottrop: For the first time, a commercial building has become a plus-energy house through renovation. The materials manufacturer, Covestro, supported the conversion, which has made operation without fossil energy sources possible. The house is provided with power using photovoltaics, power storage and geothermal energy. To cover the loads and to provide support in the winter, the building is connected to the power grid. 100 per cent of the electricity used is generated using hydro power.

Many existing buildings have a high energy consumption rate. However, this can be significantly reduced through renovation measures. The Covestro future house presents the technical possibilities using the example of a commercial building from the 1960s in Bottrop city centre. Not only does its power requirement meet passive house standard. The combination of thermal insulation, economical technologies, the production of energy based on photovoltaics and the use of geothermal energy even make the building a plus-energy house: It generates more energy than it consumes.

Engine for progress:

  • first upgrade of a commercial building to plus-energy level
  • the storage unit ensures the supply of energy using self-generated green electricity
  • concentration of state-of-the-art building technologies in one object
  • a model for the renovation of commercial buildings

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Photo: Covestro AG

Exterior view of the façade of the Covestro future house. Due to the curved metal, it was necessary to work with insulation materials of varying thicknesses.

Ventilation, insulation and lighting in interaction with each other

A decentralised ventilation system supplies the offices with fresh air. Each floor is individually controlled and the energy recovery rate is 90 per cent. A CO2 sensor secures the air quality. Room heating or cooling is generated using geothermal probes and heat pumps. This can be released into the ambient air via ceiling surface heating as required. District heat can also be used in addition to this. The façades, roof and cellar ceiling have been insulated against cold and heat with polyurethane foam. This material ensures excellent insulation, even when using thin layers. Triple-glazed windows have been installed, which have a high insulation value. These are fitted with slats that can direct daylight, thereby minimising the need for electrically generated light. Light conductors and daylight lamps illuminate interior rooms that do not have windows without using electricity. Economical LED lighting technology with presence detectors provide the electrical lighting. A low-voltage elevator facilitates barrier-free access to the building and reduces its energy requirement by 75 per cent through energy recovery.

Green energy in the middle of the city

A photovoltaic system on the west façade and on the roof generates around 26,000 kWh of electricity annually. Together with a 300-watt wind power plant, it feeds into an electricity storage unit that can supply the house for approximately six hours. Surplus energy is fed into the power grid. There is also a charging station in front of the building for electric bicycles, which is also supplied with green electricity from the roof of the Covestro future house.

Photo: Covestro AG

"The Covestro future house shows impressively how, through the interaction of efficient technology, modern insulation materials and innovative investors, new dimensions in building renovation and thus in climate protection can be achieved."

Dr. Joachim Wolff, Head of BU Polyurethanes

Partners and sponsors

  • Covestro AG
  • Oliver Helmke GmbH Projektentwicklung & Immobilien (Eigentümer der Immobilie)
  • Innovation City Management GmbH