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The southern view of the demonstration building, a multi-storey residential building in INNOPARK Kitzingen. A part of the façade is covered with multifunctional façade elements in order to test their function under real-world conditions.
© Marcel Neberich
Active building envelope for multi-storey apartment building

Concept for basic structure of a prefabricated, multifunctional façade element
© Arno Dentel

Developing multifunctional façade elements

As the outermost layer of the building envelope, the façade performs numerous functions. They are to be intelligently combined to create a system that permits the application of cost-effective, multifunctional façade systems. To do this, scientists are developing a façade element with integrated organic photovoltaics, textile sun protection, a sustainable insulating material and the sensors necessary for control. The next step is to test the elements on the south façade of a multi-storey residential building.

In addition to meeting the requirements for heat and moisture protection, the building envelope can carry out other functions and provide space for photovoltaic modules, sun protection equipment and ventilation systems. The various passive and active structural elements are still doing their own things. What has been lacking so far is a smart integration of all functions.

This is where the research project comes into play. A façade element is being developed that is suitable for façades on multi-family homes and that integrates organic photovoltaics (O-PV), adjustable solar protection and the sensors necessary for smart control. Integration into a smart control concept is planned in order to increase both the energy efficiency of the building and user comfort. A high degree of prefabrication and the modular design of the façade elements should allow for economically advantageous use on multi-storey residential buildings.

Modular multifunctional façade element

The development of a modular, prefabricated façade element should contribute to significantly increasing the energy efficiency of buildings from an economic point of view.

The scientists plan to integrate organic photovoltaics (O-PV) for an active use of solar energy. These flexible, printed thin-film modules can be designed as (semi-)transparent elements. They are used in transparent and opaque components of the façade elements. The O-PV modules are available in different colours and with variable levels of transparency, and they are not limited in size to a certain dimension. In contrast to standard PV modules, they can be integrated into the façade in a visually appealing way. A standard façade system serves as the basic framework. As with a modular system, various active and passive (semi-)transparent individual modules are being developed that can be combined with one another.

A controllable, selectively coated solar protection system is designed to reduce solar irradiation in summer and at the same time allow a high proportion of daylight into the building. Solar irradiation is measured by a sensor. The required thermal insulation of the façade is to be provided by an insulating material made of renewable raw materials, which will be developed as part of the project. A natural fibre mat or a hybrid material based on natural fibres in combination with a natural resin is planned.

After a two-year development and planning phase, the modular façade elements are to be installed on a demonstration building and then be examined and evaluated as part of the monitoring phase.

The Solar Construction / Energy-Efficient City support initiative

The project is being funded as part of the Solar Construction/Energy-Efficient City support initiative set up by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Module 1, called “Solar Construction”, focuses on projects concerned with energy-efficient buildings and building ensembles. The presented scheme focuses on coupling an energy management system with intelligent operational management strategies in order to optimise the energy flows in the building and enable the building to be integrated into smart district concepts.



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Coordination, project management
TH Nürnberg, Kompetenzzentrum Energietechnik

Project partner
ZAE Bayern - Würzburg

Project partner

Project partner
INNOPARK Kitzingen GmbH

Project partner


Projects, reports, news and analysis from the research initiative ENERGIEWENDEBAUEN