An integrated concept for sustainable a building made of natural materials including straw, wood, clay, and bio-plastics

Environmental considerations and energy efficiency are rarely thought about in modern design and construction. The S-House, however, is a highly sustainable structure built some 50 kilometers from Vienna, Austria. It not only uses energy-efficient materials, but also involves the creation of products and systems with a light footprint on the environment over the full life cycle.

“The whole thing can go back to natural materials,” says one of the designers Robert Wimmer. “At the end of the life cycle of the building, we don’t have to take things apart.”

“The windows are considered a high-quality component,” he continues. “They are made to be removed without any damage and used again. “Even the stone floors are glued into a sand layer, different from concrete. So the whole structure can be separated into things for recyclables and non-recyclables.”

The nonrecyclables won’t cause any harm if the structure is eventually abandoned to the environment, he added.

Wimmer likes to call the S-House a “dissemination platform”. “We made this 400-square-meter building so that people can see it, touch it, have seminars about it,” he said. “Once you can show it to people, you don’t have to explain much, and we made it up to Factor 20 during testing in terms of energy usage.”

Factor 10 is a widely accepted code for drastic reduction of resource intensity for products and services.  To shoot for a Factor 10 in creating a new device, service or building means you are trying to achieve a tenfold reduction in resource consumption. Look at a house: Can it be built and lived in with only one-tenth the existing resources?  If so, it’s a Factor 10.

“Once we get this far, then having a house be entirely self-sufficient is within reach. Our next step is to try to have the house industry be not an energy consumer, but an energy producer — or at least neutral.”

Designed by
Robert Wimmer, Georg Scheicher - Austria