Austria's capital now the site of the world's largest passive house

Modern looking building

Here's a riddle for Vienna experts: What acts as the energy nerve centre for a large chunk of Austria and yet uses little energy itself? The answer: "Smart Campus", the world's biggest passive house. And if you didn't know the answer it's alright, because the gas and electricity distribution hub run by Wiener Netze (Vienna Mains) has only been operational since September 2016.

But the 96,000-square-metre building is already making news for its technology that provides millions with energy while saving energy for its own needs. The figures speak for themselves: electricity flows over a 23,0000-kilometre network to households and industries in Vienna, as well as parts of Lower Austria and Burgenland provinces, while the gas network extends 3,500 kilometres. They, as well as part of the city's district heating distribution and fibre-optic cables to help run the systems are all operated from within the building with the help of cutting-edge technology.

Smart, smarter, Vienna

But that's only half of the story. Even as it controls the distribution of more traditional forms of energy, the Smart Campus itself is self-sufficient through the most up-to-date green technologies. Its roofs are greened, and a photovoltaic system with 1,200 elements as large as half a football field, solar thermal energy and ground water all go into a mix that results in energy savings of 70 percent over traditional buildings. In all an ideal place for the Smart Campus's 1,400 employees working at the city's energy headquarters.

And the focus on green-friendly practices began with the first shovel of earth turned. With the start of construction two years ago, rail transport was used wherever possible, meaning that nearly 3,000 truck trips were avoided. The result: a savings of 55 tons of carbon dioxide emissions for a minimal ecological footprint.

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