Interview with Karl Höfler, AEE Intec
on trends and potential in the field of sustainable building

Karl Höfler, AEE INTEC
Karl Höfler, AEE INTEC

Which technologies and design ideas for buildings do you regard as particularly crucial for the future?
In the near future sustainably renovating the existing stock of buildings thermally to high standards and employing resource-conserving energy, preferably solar, will be specially important. Building services must be converted to intelligent, affordable systems. I see great opportunities in promoting shared heating systems for groups of buildings with differing usage patterns, so as to be able to swap energy around and put it to work wherever it is currently needed.

What prospects do you see for spreading the new approaches in urban areas? 
In my view the main potential is in suburbs and county towns, where no energy grids are on hand as yet. That is where strategies involving interlinked groups of buildings sharing intelligent energy systems can gain acceptance.

How important is prefabricating building components and building service modules industrially?
Extremely important, since renovation processes must go even quicker and be even less affected by weather and even more affordable. Prefabrication in a factory means tighter quality control and thus higher quality. Accessibility and separability will be the key aspects in future. Building services ought to be located in parts of the building where they can easily be retrofitted and maintained at any time.

What current trends are discernible in research and development in the building sector?
The current trend is away from the individual building towards groups of interlinked buildings and towards Smart Cities and  Regions. But there is still a great need for improvement in the field of building services and components.

What opportunities result from Austrian agents‘ getting involved in international research activities and networks?
Swapping experience at the international level, e.g. as part of IEA research collaboration, is really important for the firms concerned to develop further. The spread of knowledge enhances Austria‘s capabilities – and the opportunities for new Austrian technologies and products in foreign markets are also augmented.