Amory’s Angle: Three Major Energy Trends to Watch

Credit to: RMI


Lovins image copyright RMI.

By Amory B. Lovins

Popular media and political chatter are abuzz with a cacophony of energy news and opinion. Amid the chaos, some orderly strands can be discerned. Here are three themes that merit attention:


Government forecasts predict U.S. energy intensity (primary energy used per dollar of real GDP) will continue to decline roughly two percent annually through 2040, but that the drop will be steepest in automobiles.

Motivated in part by more stringent fuel economy standards coming down the pipeline, lightweighting—the core of the new “platform fitness” approach, which focuses on optimizing a vehicle’s structure first before addressing propulsion technology and fuel source—has been the industry’s hottest strategic trend for several years (see “Battling America’s Automotive Obesity Epidemic,” page 28). In short, the auto industry is finally beginning the fundamental change we’ve been advocating since 1991. And as automakers and government adopt RMI’s fitness-first, ultralighting-focused strategy, they’re finding that making costly batteries or fuel cells fewer rather than cheaper can make electric cars more affordable with less time, cost, and risk. This can save severalfold more oil than the government forecasts, use 80 percent less autobody manufacturing capital, de-risk automaking, and save (in the U.S. alone) half an OPEC’s worth of oil.

Frankfurt housing firm builds new headquarters to Passive House Standard

Ground-breaking for ABG office building at the Frankfurt central station

Credit to: International Passive House Association 
No other company has built as many Passive Houses as the ABG Frankfurt Holding. Soon, the staff of this housing and real estate firm will also benefit from the advantages of the Standard: on Monday, ground was broken for the new company headquarters. The 12,400 square metres of office space will be located on prime property set between Frankfurt’s financial district and conference centre, adjacent to an eight storey apartment building, also in Passive House Standard. The complex, being executed by owner and project developer Groß & Partner, is set to be completed by the end of 2014.
The cornerstone was laid by ABG CEO Frank Junker und building owner Jürgen Groß along with Fankfurt mayor, Peter Feldmann, who also serves as chair of the AGB Supervisory Council. During the ceremony, Feldmann emphasised not only the significance of this new build for the development of the surrounding neighbourhood, but also for its excellent level of energy efficiency. “The project is among the largest Passive House office buildings currently under construction worldwide. As such, both the owner and renter serve as role models,” observed Martin Such from Passivhausdienstleistung GmbH (Passive House Services), the Darmstadt firm responsible for the Passive House certification of the building.

World’s first Passive House office tower certified


Photo: © LANG consulting. The first certified Passive House office tower.

Sources: iPHA,  Land Consulting

High levels of energy efficiency are all the more important when it comes to high-rise buildings. For the first time ever, an office tower in Vienna has achieved the Passive House Standard. The certificate was presented by Susanne Theumer of the Passive House Institute on the 20th floor of the building with a prime view of the old city. The glazed facade of the building on the bank of the Donaukanal (“Danube Canal”) rises almost 80 metres high. The building, characterised by superior indoor air quality and minimal energy consumption, is home to 900 employees of the Austrian Raiffeisen-Holding Group.

Energy company inaugurates Passive House as new headquarters

Presentation of the certificate in the Danish port city of Esbjerg


© Passivhaus Institut: Passive House certified new headquarters in the Danish port city of Esbjerg

Credit to:

 Esbjerg/Darmstadt. The Danish regional energy company Syd Energi (SE) has inaugurated its new headquarters in the Danish port city of Esbjerg. One of the world’s largest Passive House buildings and an architectural highlight, this four-storey rotunda with a sea view not only meets the requirements of the Passive House Standard, but will also produce more energy than is required for the building’s mechanical systems. This 9000 square metre building will provide some 420 people with carbon neutral workplace. After a construction period of almost 18 months, the official inauguration of the building with presentation of the Passive House Certificate took place on Friday. The Danish Finance Minister, Bjarne Corydon, and the Mayor of Esbjerg, Johnny Sotrup, were also present and commended the exemplary character of this project.

Office building in Passive House standard


Photo: © Benthem Crouwel Architects Passive House Office in Etrium, Cologne

The tenant of the “Etrium” in Cologne, the international company Econcern headquartered in the Netherlands, has been involved since 1984 with the aim of realizing “a sustainable energy supply for everyone”. In Cologne, a suitable office building now should be built, which reflects the company’s vision of architecture and energetic idea. There should be an innovative office in Passive House standard is established, which is also architecturally sophisticated. The three-storey building covers an area of 3751 m² and can accommodate a total of 150 employees.

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