What have you recently done in your home to save energy costs? From small adjustments such as not using the stand-by mode to a photovoltaic system on the roof, the range of possibilities is huge. What if you could save 10% energy with just one measure? The magic word is “hydraulic balancing”.
Let’s take a 54-apartment building that is supplied by a heating plant in the basement. Without hydraulic balancing, there is a temporary undersupply to the more distant radiators, especially when heating up. In other words: on the lower floors, breakfast is eaten in a T-shirt, on the upper floors in a scarf and cap. Poor control of the thermostatic valves can intensify this effect. Hydraulic balancing ensures that all radiators, no matter how far away they are from the heat source, are supplied equally. Houses of this size are expected to save an average of 7-11% in electrical energy and fuel.
With this enormous energy-saving potential, it is not surprising that the German government wants to anchor hydraulic balancing in the Building Energy Act in 2024 and thus make it mandatory for owners of apartment buildings. Once the law is passed, they will only have one year to carry out this balancing. As a result of this deadline, planning offices up and down the country have already been commissioned to prepare the calculations for millions of flats.
The German Heating Act
The aim of the Building Energy Act, colloquially also known as the Heating Act, is to use energy in buildings as sparingly as possible, including an increased use of renewable energies to generate heating, cooling and electricity for building operation.
The federal law is a central component of the German heat turnaround and one of the three pillars of the energy turnaround.
The aim of the energy turnaround is to drastically reduce the consumption of fossil fuels, ideally to zero, i.e. to achieve climate neutrality. (source Wikipedia)
But what does KAEFER have to do with all this?
The SAGA Group is Hamburg’s largest landlord and Germany’s largest municipal housing company, with around 137,000 flats and about 1,400 commercial properties. In 2020, 270,000 people, around 1/6 of all Hamburg residents, lived in SAGA apartments. (Annual Report 2021)
SAGA has commissioned KAEFER Gebäudetechnik to provide hydraulic balancing, the replacement of valves & thermostats, in approximately 10,000 flats in five districts of Hamburg. The work is being carried out from March this year until August 2024. An enormous volume that will demand 16 employees alone in the next 1.5 years and possibly beyond.
Heiko Schneidereit is the supervising project manager at KAEFER Gebäudetechnik. He is the master of countless Excel spreadsheets and an extreme user of the KAEFER App, with which the entire process is carried out. And it has its work cut out for it.
Each house with its flats and, if necessary, cellars is offered separately. The commissioning is carried out successively by SAGA. Heiko Schneidereit manages hundreds of flats that have to be coordinated, processed and extensively documented by photos and protocols – in addition to preparing just as many offers for future reconciliations. And because that is not difficult enough, the factor “access to flats” complicates the situation even more.
The timely completion of the project depends largely on accessibility in the flats. In the morning, the water in the heating systems of a building is drained, the thermostats and valves in all flats are changed and individually adjusted according to the calculations of the planning office. Once all the flats have been worked through, the water can be refilled. For this reason, a house must be processed in one piece. The methodology is based on LEAN and forms the basis of KAEFER’s own app, which the client is also enthusiastic about.
The big challenge: every tenant must allow access to the flat on the scheduled date. If we go back to our initial example – the 54-apartment building – we can easily imagine how quickly a tenant can be absent and Heiko Schneidereit has to reschedule, including sending letters to all parties in the building.
The state-certified construction technician with a specialisation in energy-efficient refurbishment & facades joined KAEFER Construction in 2015 and also works for GT. “I am attracted by the new challenges at GT,” says Heiko Schneidereit. “My goal is to implement the project smoothly and successfully together with our team. You can only realise such a volume, over a period of months, if everyone pulls together – alone you are nothing.”
7-11% energy savings for around 137,000 flats – that adds up to a lot at SAGA in Hamburg. We wish Heiko Schneidereit and his team every success and keep our fingers crossed that all tenants open the door as planned.
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