Dutch terraced house offers sustainable European model in Versailles

TU Delft’s entry for the Solar Decathlon 2014, the Olympic Games of sustainable construction, is ready for the competition. The Dutch zero-energy terraced house, located next to the gardens of the Palace of Versailles, will officially open its doors on Friday 27 June. The terraced house stands out among the nineteen new, modern homes entered by the other universities. The architecture students have made their mark with the Prêt-à-Loger renovation concept for the competition, with its ‘second skin’ that includes a glass construction. With this, TU Delft is showing how a practical contribution can be made to increasing the sustainability of European cities. The jury will announce which house has won the competition on Saturday 12 July.

Energy leap

In order to make cities sustainable, many parties must take steps to transform their energy use. According to Andy van den Dobbelsteen, professor of Climate Design & Sustainability at the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment of TU Delft and the team’s chief supervisor: “We have to become less dependent on fossil fuels. With Prêt-à-Loger, we are showing how terraced houses can be transformed into ‘zero on the meter’ houses, while the resident’s quality of life goes up substantially. Our solution can be adapted for around 1.4 million terraced houses in the Netherlands and linked to even more types of houses. It’s fantastic that with our partners, we can now realise our plan to make existing cities sustainable on a large scale.” Jan-Willem van de Groep is the programme director at Energiesprong, the innovation programme created to stimulate the transformation of the Dutch built environment into a zero-energy environment. “It’s great to display the Prêt-à-Loger concept on an international stage. With this, the Netherlands is showing that we’re able to use innovations to make existing houses, no less, sustainable and zero-energy in one go. As we’ve already got lots of houses in Europe, that’s a necessary leap towards a sustainable future!”.

New products

The wave of sustainability is also giving an impetus to the construction sector. TBI Holdings wants to make a positive difference with sustainable innovation, among other things. The Prêt-à-Loger renovation concept fits perfectly with this ambition. The knowledge and experience from this project will be used to optimise the concepts for improving home energy use. Insurance company Univé is also gaining knowledge about the development of sustainable homes through the students. They are using this knowledge to develop a vision in the area of sustainable living. NL Greenlabel is providing the design for the sustainable garden. With their overall vision for the living environment surrounding the terraced house, they are strengthening the sustainable concept. All products, materials and plantings used have a sustainability passport.

A competition with ten elements

The Solar Decathlon is a competition between twenty universities from across the world. The name ‘decathlon’ says it all: the houses are tested and evaluated on ten elements. In addition to the actual measurement of electricity consumption (lights, TV, washing machine, cooking, etc.), the jury awards prizes for the following six elements: communication & social awareness, architecture and sustainability, urban design, transport & affordability, technology & construction and energy efficiency. The jury will announce the overall winner on Saturday 12 July.

Solar Decathlon

The Solar Decathlon is open to the public between Saturday 28 June and 14 July 2014. The homes can be viewed between jury visits and the official measurements (at the weekend between 10:00 and 22:00, and on weekdays between 11:30 and 14:30 and between 17:30 and 19:30). For the opening times and the location, please see the website of the Solar Decathlon 2014. There will also be a Dutch Day, organised by the Dutch Embassy in Paris, on Friday the 4th of July, where Dutch innovation and goods will be presented.