Church congregation Heinsberg: A well-insulated church

The church congregation of Heinsberg has renovated its church to meet the plus-energy standard: An intelligent ventilation system and a heat pump extract heat energy from the air and bring it into the rooms. The renovation project has helped to set a new standard: For the renovation of old buildings with passive house components.

Graceful façade moulding and cute box windows: Many old buildings have beautiful façades that their owners would like to leave unchanged. This does not make the energy-efficient renovation of these buildings any easier. This was also the case at the Christuskirche in Heinsberg, where the architects had to design a concept to thermally insulate the church primarily using the interior walls, thus enabling it to become a passive house.

Engine for progress:

  • the world's first energy-optimised non-residential building to EnerPhit standard
  • 95.4 per cent energy savings; 233 tonnes of CO2 per year
  • recyclable cellulose used as an insulating material
  • a barrier-free building
  • 84 per cent of the extracted heat is used to heat fresh air

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Photo: Evangelische Kirchengemeinde Heinsberg

The thick and thermally-insulated building envelope corresponds to the standard for a newly constructed passive house. The exterior walls have three layers: limestone masonry, mineral wool insulation and the exterior façade materials (clinker/wood). The roof window to the crypt in the garden and the PV system on the roof of the church are also clearly visible.

Heat from extracted and environmental air, 95 per cent energy savings

The technical heart of the passive house is a ventilation system that uses 84 per cent of the heat from the extracted air to heat fresh air. If this heat recovery is not enough, the underfloor heating springs into action, which is supplied with heat by an air-water heat pump.

In order to prevent the heat from escaping through the church windows, triple-glazed wooden windows with aluminium cladding have been fitted. Efficient lighting and insulating materials based on wastepaper (cellulose) complete the picture. More than 95 per cent of the energy previously consumed by the building is now saved by the church congregation. A photovoltaics array converts the place of worship into a plus-energy building – because of this, the church now produces more energy than it uses.

A model project for passive house standards in old buildings

Not only does the renovation of the Heinsberg church set standards proverbially: The Darmstadt Passive House Institute has developed the "EnerPHit" standard for the renovation of old buildings with passive house components in line with the implementation of the project. The rehabilitation project – the first energetically optimised non-residential building of this standard – is, therefore, a model for further projects to renovate old buildings.

Partners and sponsors

  • Evangelischen Kirchengemeinde Heinsberg
  • Kirchenkreis Jülich
  • Rongen Architekten GmbH
  • Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt
Counselling centers:
  • EnergieAgentur.NRW