Spring is here in Minnesota and life is good!… Everyone is wiping the sleep out of their eyes from the last four months of hibernation… people are active and happy, and much can be attributed to the warmth of a beautiful sunny day.  Frieburg, Germany residents enjoy the sun for more than therapeutic reasons… they also like it because it pays their bills!  Frieburg is the ‘solar capitol’ of Germany, and a project by Rolf Disch is a perfect example of the city’s commitment to utilizing these glorious rays.


Solarsiedlung (solar village) is a development of significant influence.  It is built to Passivhaus and Plus Energy House standards, meaning not only is its’ structure 85% more energy efficient than traditional buildings, but it will actually create more energy than it uses on site.  It became energy-positive with its implementation of onsite renewables, in this case Disch designed a massive solar grid for the structure’s rooftop.

Wow!… could this be a taste of what’s to come?  I certainly hope so!

The project includes 58 residential units.  Terraces and gardens are easily accessible for each occupant and rainwater is captured to water these outdoor spaces.


Other strategies Solarsiedlung encompasses include:

  • Passive, south facing design allows sun to heat residences
  • Water heated by solar thermal system
  • Winter month energy provided by onsite biomass facility
  • Vacuum insulation in exterior walls
  • Triple glazing reduces heat loss


There you have it!  Another striking example that energy positive buildings are not only possible, but beautiful and livable as well.  This project has a very charming and personal touch, and many need to learn from its holistic approach.  Want to learn more AND you can read German?  Check out the Solarsiedlung page HERE.


About Joshua Foss

Joshua is a leading voice for transformational change. He is the editor of Metro Hippie, co-founder and director of development of the Ecala Group, and adjunct faculty at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He is also an ambassador for the Living Building Challenge and is a frequent speaker at national conferences, trade shows and summits.