RoofKIT: Circular and sustainable construction

KIT Team Plans, Designs, and Constructs an Energy-Efficient and Recyclable Building in International University Building Competition

The construction industry consumes large amounts of energy resources and produces tons of waste. At the Solar Decathlon Europe 21/22 university competition, students and researchers from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) want to show that the building sector is already compatible with a functioning circular economy. The interdisciplinary team "RoofKIT" is dedicated to building roofs as a previously unused land resource. After a two-year planning phase, the construction of the demonstration unit started on the Solar Campus in Wuppertal on May 19, 2022.
How can socio-economically fair housing be created without destroying natural resources? How can the building sector transform so that it does not further exacerbate climate change? These and other questions are posed by students and employees of different KIT departments in the "RoofKIT" team. "The city of today will be the resource for the city of tomorrow. This requires a new understanding of building," says Professor Dirk Hebel, who heads the project together with Professor Andreas Wagner at the KIT Faculty of Architecture. "We have to rethink all constructive details to prepare our future buildings for such a change."

Pillars of sustainability as a basis
To demonstrate what this new way of building can look like, the team is creating a concept for the roof extension of Café ADA in Wuppertal, Germany, in the university's Solar Decathlon Europe 21/22 competition. The design of the building is based on the three pillars of sustainability "ecology", "economy" and "social", to which RoofKIT has added the fourth pillar "aesthetics". In the concept, the team introduces prefabricated wooden modules that enable a fast, inexpensive and efficient construction process. For optimal space utilization, they use flexible floor plans and a sharing economy concept. The structure also uses 100 percent renewable energy, including from solar panels on building surfaces and in the backyard. "We are developing a kit that can be used anywhere, and we are also introducing new construction systems, materials, and systems for energy generation," explains Nadine Georgi, a student of architecture at KIT and a member of RoofKIT. "We are convinced that we can realize a social as well as economically, ecologically and aesthetically sustainable future through new urban planning and architectural blueprints."

Demonstration unit on the Solar Campus
Since the end of March 2022, RoofKIT has been working with a carpentry and joinery company in Reuthe, Austria, to build the demonstration unit. The two-week construction phase on the Solar Campus started with the official groundbreaking ceremony yesterday (Thursday). In the two-week event phase that now follows, the houses will be open to interested parties. Meanwhile, an international jury of experts will evaluate the overall concepts and demonstrators submitted. The experts will select the winning teams in ten categories such as sustainability, energy performance and innovation to determine the overall winner at the end of the event phase. Following the competition, the Solar Campus in Wuppertal will be transformed into a "Living Lab" to continue research on selected houses. RoofKIT plans to bring the constructed building to Karlsruhe: "We want to make our demonstrator accessible to the public in Karlsruhe and also show here that a long-term, sustainable solution in the building industry can already be implemented today," says Georgi.

About the Solar Decathlon Europe competition
Initiated in 2002 by the United States Department of Energy, the Solar Decathlon is a university competition for resource-conserving and energy-efficient architecture and engineering in the building sector, which has also been held in a European version as Solar Decathlon Europe since 2008. In 2021/2022, Germany will host the competition for the first time, which will also focus on urban living and building for the first time. 18 university teams from eleven countries will put their visions of sustainable, energy-efficient and socially acceptable architecture into practice. The German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK) is sponsoring the competition.

Exhibition in the Future Room
An exhibition about the RoofKIT project will be held in the Zukunftsraum in Karlsruhe until June 3. The exhibition presents an excerpt of the contribution to the Solar Decathlon Europe and informs about resource-saving, future architecture.

Rintheimer Street 46
76131 Karlsruhe
Tue-Thu: 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Until 03.06.2022

Further information: