SchulRen+ Innovative plus-energy refurbishment concepts for school buildings

In a technical feasibility study and based on a real example, the project analysed innovative plus-energy refurbishment concepts for school buildings. The goal was to develop refurbishment concepts with a high replication potential which combine future-oriented energy concepts with feasible technical and architectural solutions.

Short Description




Contents and Objectives

The Austrian government and the federal states invest several Million Euros each year into refurbishment measures regarding schools. The city of Vienna alone has set up a plan which foresees 570 Million Euros for refurbishment measures to be undertaken until 2017 in 242 Viennese Schools in the framework of the ‘„Substanzsanierungsprojekt Schulen Wien“ (SUSA). The planned measures show a substantial potential for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in existing schools. However at the moment this vast potential is by far not exhausted as there are no comprehensive refurbishment concepts considering energy related criteria available to the relevant decision makers. Through the proposed feasibility study based on a concrete example of a typical school in Vienna (Franz Jonas Europaschule, 1210 Wien) innovative EnergyPositive concepts for refurbishment of schools should be developed.

Objectives and Methods

The goal of the project is to develop functionally, economically and energetically optimised Energy-Positive Refurbishment concepts for school buildings based on a concrete example. The definition of “Energy-Positive” used in this study is as follows: more on-site produced than consumed annual mean primary energy. The core issues of the project can be summarized as follows:

  • Development of future-oriented refurbishment concepts for school buildings which surpass the current refurbishment standards (refurbishment achieving passive house standard)
  • Development of innovative concepts with a high signal- and replication factor
  • Optimisation of the room layouts to adapt to the changed requirements of new school types (e.g. all-day schools)
  • Detailed analysis of the developed concepts through energy and Whole-Life-Cycle Cost (WLC) studies
  • Supporting the decision making process in the implementation of School Refurbishment projects towards Energy-Positive buildings.
  • Providing the basis for a concrete example of a Energy-Positive concept implemented in a follow-up demonstration building


On the basis of sound concepts and in-depth analysis, the project demonstrated that an Energy-Positive Refurbishment of a typical Viennese ‘Gründerzeit’-Style School is architecturally, functionally and energetically feasible. A comprehensive thermal refurbishment together with the application of about 400 m² photovoltaic and 30 m² solar-thermal collectors leads to a negative yearly primary energy balance. This would result in € 50.000 savings in energy costs / year with a return of investment (ROI) of 16 years if only the energetically relevant refurbishment measures would be included and a ROI of 30years if everything else would be included. Since a comprehensive refurbishment results in high investment costs which cannot always be accommodated, it is necessary to develop concepts with clearly defined measures which can be distributed in succession over several years. Based on the current framework conditions (financing and contracting aspects within the City of Vienna as well as limited funding possibilities for the public sector) a comprehensive refurbishment of this project can - at this time - not be pursued.

Prospects / Suggestions for future research

In order to succeed in the implementation of innovative School-refurbishment projects new financing models (e.g. Private-Public-Public-Partnerships, Contracting or Intracting) are needed. In addition it is necessary to adapt funding structures and other potential financing possibilities to cater for the complex structures of a cities’ municipality. The high visibility as well as the intrinsic role model function of public buildings necessitate financing models which promote innovation (e.g. through an ‘energy-efficiency’ funds for public buildings). From an architecturally as well as energetically point of view research must focus on the detailed elaboration of comprehensive concepts which are structured based on potential refurbishment measures in the individual schools. A variation of energetically, economically as well as functionally developed concepts based on different typologies (e.g. type / age / condition of the building) would thus support the deployment of comprehensive refurbishment actions.


Project Partners

Project management

Florian Dubisch
AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, Energy Department

Project- bzw. Cooperation partners

Contact Address

Florian Dubisch
AIT Austrian Institute of Technology, Energy Department
Giefinggasse 2
Tel.: +43 50550 66290