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Vaillant is part of the outstanding social project "Arche"

Vaillant supported a remarkable initiative of the timber house manufacturer Baufritz based in Erkheim in Germany’s Allgäu region. The company – in cooperation with suppliers and partner companies – pledged and erected a new workshop building for the “Arche” project in Slovenia. The 500 m2 new building was built entirely by hundreds of hours of voluntary work performed by Baufritz employees as well as donations and services of the partner companies. Vaillant supported the project by providing and installing two geoTHERM heat pumps, which now supply the new “Arche” with heat and hot water.

Vaillant supported a remarkable initiative of the timber house manufacturer Baufritz based in Erkheim in Germany’s Allgäu region. The company – in cooperation with suppliers and partner companies – pledged and erected a new workshop building for the “Arche” project in Slovenia. The 500 m2 new building was built entirely by hundreds of hours of voluntary work performed by Baufritz employees as well as donations and services of the partner companies. Vaillant supported the project by providing and installing two geoTHERM heat pumps, which now supply the new “Arche” with heat and hot water.

A remarkable example

Even if the project was completed and the building handed over in the year 2011, the action is still worth mentioning, because it is a remarkable example of social cooperation, private and entrepreneurial dedication, as well as international support. Together with about 100 partner companies and suppliers, in addition to the donations and assistance of private individuals, Baufritz and its employees built a new workshop building for intellectually handicapped adults in Zbilje, which is near Ljubljana. The social organisation “Arche” maintains about 120 communities in 30 countries around the world where people with and without handicaps live and work together. For many people the “Arche” is a starting point for an independent and self-determined future. In Zbilje, the guests from companies in the surrounding area are served lunch by a public cafeteria in the new building. The garden has an area for growing vegetables, which can be sold. The new workshop, with a large production area, creates more jobs, more sales revenue and therefore more public development funds.

Voluntary construction process

Contact to the “Arche” was established through members of the parish of St. Josef in Memmingen. The approval to build on the property was supported by Bavaria’s former Minister of Agriculture Josef Miller. The eco-house pioneer Baufritz carried out the entire project development and implementation. And the suppliers with whom the ecologically/sustainably minded manufacturer of design houses successfully cooperates on a daily basis provided for the delivery of high-quality materials, the interior finishing and the building’s technical facilities. In the end, with many helping hands, donations of materials and funds and a great deal of personal commitment, Zbilje received a new two-storey building in the form of a KfW efficiency house 85 with almost 500 m² of floor space.

Self-sufficient heating to a large extent

This close cooperation among everyone involved in the planning and construction made it possible to support the exemplary energy standard of the efficiency house (primary energy requirement: 39.09 kWh/m²a, final energy requirement: 15.04 kWh/m²a) with resource-friendly technology: the heat and hot water are provided entirely by two geoTHERM air/water heat pumps, each with an output of 16 kW, and ten auroTHERM flat-plate solar collectors, which feed a 1,000 litre allSTOR multi-functional tank. The heat is distributed by panel heating with three heating circuits (supply/return temperature 37 / 30 °C) and the hot water is supplied by a heat exchanger installed in the tank. The complex heating system is controlled by the energy balance controller integrated in the heat pumps and by an auroMATIC 560 solar controller. The two air/water heat pumps switch on only if the solar heat generated is not sufficient to cover the requirements of the building. This corresponds to the utilisation profile of the community building, which is characterised by fluctuating heat requirements.

High level of public interest

The neighbourhood of the rural community followed the construction of the “Arche” with great interest. This interest was due in part to the integrative model for the care of the people, most of whom are intellectually handicapped, and in part due to the energy standards of the building as well as the use of renewable energy sources, which resulted in numerous inquiries. This is because the heating technology, with the combination of a thermal solar system and air/water heat pumps, coincides with the demand of a rapidly developing market. The geoTHERM system used here combines the separate advantages of air and geothermal heat pumps, resulting in excellent efficiency and economy. This is measured in the COP (coefficient of performance) value, which describes the ratio of the thermal output to the required energy supply. With a COP rating of 4.0 the system in Zbilje is impressive. Tomaz Bizjak explains: “With this COP rating, a state subsidy of €1,500 is possible in Slovenia; otherwise it is only €1,000. In addition, there is a subsidy of €150 per square metre of solar area, so that an investment such as here in the “Arche” is worthwhile not only ecologically, but also economically.”