Energy, Building and Accomodation

In our projects we deal with sustainable construction and efficient energy use, we explore the role of users during the implementation of new energy technologies and examine the transition from traditional to renewable energy systems. Based on the analysis of the social, technological and organisational framework of energy use we contribute to the shaping of sustainable energy, climate and technology policies.

For more information, please contact Jürgen Suschek-Berger.

Our projects on this research topic

The project develops a basis for a regional, autonomous and robust energy cell that ensures a sufficient auxiliary (power) supply in case of failures in the transmission grid, caused by a blackout or a regional extreme weather condition.

In the project WATT's up ELMO?  children and adolescents explore in workshops together with experts various issues relating to the topics of electro mobility, sustainable power generation and related social and environmental aspects.

IFZ accompanies the first smart meter rollout of the company "Energienetze Steiermark" (provider of the styrian electricity grid) in a socioscientific way with the help of interviews and focus groups, in order to determine the concerns of the customers and to make recommendations for a socially acceptable introduction of smart meters.

In the SINNergyTRANS project, detailed methodological profiles are developed for creating, accompanying and evaluating social innovations for the transformation of the energy system.

The project Gebäudesoftskills (Buildingsoftskills) aims to both clarify complex interactions between the built environment and human needs and to complete and crosslink the established know-how of building experts with the knowledge of human sciences.

IFZ war part of a one-year exploratory project "Smart City Frohnleiten", funded by the "Smart City Initiative" of the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund. In this one-year exploratory phase, the aim was to explore possibilities for sustainable urban development in the city of Frohnleiten.

The aim of this research project was the development of fundamentally new and intelligent energy supply systems via the façade of existing storey buildings, which allowed a high degree of integration of the active and passive building technology elements into prefabricated façade modules.

The core of the project was the active involvement of citizens in Hartberg. Several surveys with the population, qualitative interviews with stakeholders and participation events with citizens of Hartberg were carried out.

Aim of the project was to support standardization processes for the sustainable development of cities and municipalities and to involve stakeholders in these processes.

Social Assessment of the Velux-Sunlighthouse according to EN 16309

New technologies and services for mobility, buildings, energy production, and manufacturing processes open up new courses of action for Styria and its economy.

Transfer of social and technological innovations between India an Kenya (Solar Transitions)

60 Styrian architectural offices are consulted about innovative technologies regarding energy efficient behavior and how to increase their use of renewable energy.

Modeling of user behavior in lowest and plus energy buildings: Consequences for building and comfort

Since 2004, the European Standardization Organization (CEN) has been developing a comprehensive standardization of the building assessment at European level within the framework of the Technical Committee 350 (Sustainability of construction works).

Comprehensive and comparable profiles focusing on climate and energy issues were developed in close collaboration with the KLIEN and the respective cities and urban regions for 20 selected smart cities across Austria.

Within the framework of the pilot project "Model home 2020", the “Sunlighthouse” in Pressbaum (Lower Austria) was built by VELUX Austria – the first carbon-neutral singl family house in Austria. From March 2012, the “Sunlighthouse” was occupied by a family that also tested its practicability. The "Sunlighthouse" was evaluated with measuring techniques (energy, heat, light, etc.) and in a socioscientific way (satisfaction of the residents, use comfort, living comfort etc.).

As basis for this project metrological results of multi floor passive house buildings, the analysis of the user behavior and the definition of quality criteria for “thermal comfort” and “user comfort” in passive house buildings were used.

Key Factors for an Effective and Acceptable Deployment of Smart Meters


The project at hand investigated how actor roles, resources, and strategies as well as institutional frameworks relevant to energy cooperatives and similar forms of local ownership in the area of renewable energy technologies have developed over the last years.

The project BENE assessed the potential of active citizen engagement in energy issues to contribute to the promotion of more energy-aware lifestyles in Austria. It analysed necessary institutional frameworks as well as individual resources (e.g. financial, social, knowledge, time) and motivations (e.g. environmental values, societal norms, economic benefits) for engagement. Building on this analytical basis, it developed and implemented activation strategies for expanding the scope of existing initiatives and initiated a transfer of good practice models to further communities.

By the development of a practical set of criteria and indicators of social sustainability (social compatibility) and by elaborating on a concept for the methodological use of this instrument in planning and running renewable energy plants as well as in establishing energy strategies and concepts, the goals of this project were reached.

Digital tool for inventory and planning to gather and use regional renewable energy potentials in Styria in consideration of ethical dimensions

TRANSPOSE investigates electricity saving potentials of private households. Starting point for this interdisciplinary research project is the question, why technological potentials to save electricity in households are not sufficiently harnessed.

The project tendsed to integrate aspects of efficiency in the use of energy and sustainability into architectural competitions in Austria without redefining the existing practice.

LCA comprises a comprehensive accounting of all material and energy inputs to the building throughout its life cycle and consolidates the results in the form of an environmental evaluation of the building. It can also be supplemented with a costs database in order to report in detail the economic costs incurred throughout the life cycle, known as Life Cycle Costing. The project aims to draw on the existing information generated from previous research projects regarding: design for low energy consumption, integrated planning, evaluating of environmental performance of building, design for sustainability and LCA techniques applied to buildings.

The project examined the contribution of Smart Meters to the energy reduction of private homes.

Aim of the research project was the optimization of the technology „ventilation system“ as basis for future planning and adjustment. 

The challenges caused by Peak Oil and Climate Change have to go along with a questioning of infrastructures and associated behaviour patterns, which had been developed under conditions when fossil energy sources were plenty and relatively cheap. After preparatory activities (literature review, assessment of the status quo of existing relevant initiatives in Austria, critical assessment of renewable energy sources´ potentials for Austria) four main workshops (dialogue boards) with different thematic focus and different composition of participants were conducted.

Socio-technical scenarios and transformation pathways for Austria’s energy system

In the project a general survey of centralised and semi-centralised mechanical ventilation systems in residential buildings was conducted and the technical solutions, the practical suitability und the acceptance of the occupants were evaluated. Criteria of quality and a planning guideline were developed.

Within the project IFZ investigates supportive framework conditions, potential fields of conflict and cooperation from a social science perspective.

The focus of the project is the question about new training perspectives in the field of trade by renewable energies.

Building regional capacities for portfolio-development and adaptive experimentation 

Demand-side load management is a cornerstone of sustainable energy systems, which feature a higher share of intermittent generation, depending on the availability of renewable energy or demand for heat from CHP processes. Such systems require smart energy loads which can coordinate their operation with current levels of energy supply. Domestic appliances can offer a range of options for load-shifting.

The aim of this project is a systematic review of socio-economic studies of “Building of Tomorrow” and an integration and presentation of concepts, tools and results which is suitable for building practitioners (especially architects, planners, building developers) and for institutions in research and education.

Based on established methods (SWOT-Analysis, Konstellations-analyse, Social Network Analysis) this project delivers decision making tools for units which are responsible for the coordination and/or funding of Energy Regions in order to support them in selecting appropriate activities and measures.

The European Technology Platform (ETP) ‘Smart Grids’ brought all relevant stakeholders together to create a common vision and to define a joint Strategic Research Agenda for Smart Grids. At present the Smart Grids Strategic Deployment Document (SDD) is being finalised, including the timeline and related actions to reach the common goals, including preparatory steps for market implementation.

The most important final aim of this project relating to the aims of the program "Building of Tomorrow" is to collect positive solutions, mistakes and shortcomings. Based on experiences during the evaluation process a planning guideline and quality criteria for the future implementation of classroom ventilation systems in new buildings or the renovation of al-ready existing buildings are developed in order to improve the quality and to support the distribution of classroom ventilation systems.

Content of this project was an energy-technical and ecological analysis for the evaluation of innovative building projects within the program "Building of Tomorrow".

Design and Management Options for improving the energy performances of Housing

Enhancement of sustainable electricity supply through improvements of the regulatory framework of the distribution network for DG (RES, CHP and other small generation)

The European union recognized the meaning of the building sector for a sustainable development and defined with the building guideline a minimum standard (2002/91/EG) regarding the total energy efficiency of buildings.