Monument to climate protection: Energy-efficiency upgrade of Scharoun School

In Marl, Scharoun school’s listed buildings have been extensively restored and given an energy-efficiency upgrade. Thanks to many carefully co-ordinated individual solutions, these special buildings are now ideally suited for use as a primary school and music school – and, in the process, reductions in CO2 emissions of approximately 110 tonnes of are being achieved each year.

The school in Marl, built based on plans by the architect Hans Scharoun between 1964 and 1970, is one of North Rhine-Westphalia’s most important historic buildings of the post-war era. The building complex, consisting of 14 parts with the school hall at the centre, has a honeycomb structure and thus embodies the principle of organic architecture – complete with cleverly devised social and spatial structures, climate-control and lighting concepts and the use of natural building materials. An energy-efficiency upgrade has now been carried out on these special buildings in painstaking detail by structural engineers, construction physicists, building conservation professionals and architects, respecting both energy-efficiency requirements and the listed building status, to make them suitable for new, modern teaching and learning in inspiring surroundings.

Engine for progress:

  • Successful energy-efficiency upgrade of a listed building
  • Annual CO2 emissions reduced by 110 tonnes
  • Climate protection and architectural preservation go hand in hand
  • Students benefit from the preservation of Scharoun’s education-oriented architecture

1 of 4

Photo: Jürgen Metzendorf

In this aerial photograph of Scharoun school, the structure’s organic architecture can be easily recognised. The countless flat roofs are also noteworthy. In the course of the renovation, more than 6,900 m2 of flat roof was insulated. The saw-tooth roofs gained new, heat-insulated glazing.

Renovation in line with listed status and energy conservation principles

To satisfy the requirements of both historic monument conservation and climate protection, many innovative modernisation measures had to be implemented and combined in a customised way. This has led, for example, to more than 6,900 square metres of flat roofs being insulated and sealed to a high standard, the installation of energy-efficient windows, the modernisation of building technology and lighting, and to the installation of single-room ventilation systems with heat recovery and integrated back-up heating registers. Scharoun school exclusively uses green electricity and is heated via a connection to the district heating network. All in all, these measures have resulted in annual CO2 emissions being reduced by approximately 110 tonnes as well as a substantial reduction in operating costs.

Win-win for the architecture and the students

This successful project also shows how, when carrying out an energy-efficiency upgrade, even a listed building can successfully retain its specific architecture and be modified for greater practical use. Since it reopened in the summer of 2015, it is not only pupils from Aloysius primary school who are being taught in an open, all-day school concept, but also music students from the town of Marl. This means that the project has become a model for the protection of historic buildings and of the climate, which people from outside the local area can learn from, too.

Photo: private

“The big challenge was in meeting the requirement for an energy-efficient upgrade according to the legally binding standards with due respect for Scharoun’s architecture. After all, an energy-efficiency upgrade involves substantial insulation thicknesses and thus runs the risk of changing the architectural character – and often results in the loss of the building’s identity."

Cristoph Ellermann (Dipl. Ing.), project architect

Partners and sponsors

  • Amt für Gebäudewirtschaft
  • Ministerium für Bauen, Wohnen, Stadtentwicklung und Verkehr (MBWSV)
  • Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit (BmUB)
  • Ministerium für Bauen, Wohnen, Stadtentwicklung und Verkehr (MBWSV)
  • Bundesministerium für Umwelt, Naturschutz, Bau und Reaktorsicherheit (BmUB)
Counselling centers:
  • EnergieAgentur.NRW