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EPALE - Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe


OeAD student housing – passive houses for active students: a formula for success

by EPALE Österreich
Language: EN
Document available also in: DE
OeAD student housing is a non-profit organisation whose main responsibility is to provide accommodation for over 12,000 international students and guest researchers each year to ensure that they have an optimal start in Austria. Since 2016, the organisation also houses home/local students and researchers in Austria’s university towns. Some 2,500 of these students and researchers live in an OeAD student residence built according to the passive house standard. “Passive houses for active students!” is the motto with which the organisation established the passive house standard as the minimum standard for the construction of OeAD student residences and thus drastically reduced its ecological footprint.


OeAD student housing aims to raise awareness of the environmental impact and sustainability initiatives in the housing and construction segments and in the economic and financial system. At the same time, it sets a good example with its core business: So far, OeAD student housing has built a total of eight student residences that meet the passive house standard in Vienna, Graz, and Leoben. Since 2004, OeAD student housing has been promoting the construction of passive house student residences in Austria and the retrofitting of existing residences with photovoltaic systems with the goal of reducing the ecological impact of the construction itself as well as of the later energy supply. In 2005, the first passive house student residence was built on Molkereistrasse in Vienna’s Leopoldstadt district.


In 2017, OeAD student housing welcomed the 20,000th resident in their passive houses, and another 3,000 join the ranks of students living in passive houses each year. The accommodation of students in passive houses ensures that they engage in an examination of this construction method and its unique qualities.


The main goal is to impart knowledge about green construction to future generations as well as to provide optimal living comfort with a minimal environmental impact. International residents are sensitised to sustainability in the construction and housing sector by way of ongoing surveys about their satisfaction with the accommodations and the level of comfort and quality they provide. The project goes beyond the passive house standard with zero-energy and energy-plus buildings and the use of alternative building materials, and wants to continue setting a good example. By offering building tours to international delegations and hosting two academic summer programmes, OeAD student housing aims to promote global knowledge exchange and networking and actively supports the effort to raise awareness for sustainable development.


Sustainability and future generations
OeAD student housing’s efforts to make an active ecological contribution to climate protection were honoured in 2013, when it was awarded the 2013 ORF Climate Protection Prize in the “Climate Protection in Companies” category.


OeAD student housing aims to actively contribute to a social transformation towards more sustainability. The two summer universities – Green.Building.Solutions and Alternative Economic Monetary Systems – also play an important role, with over 600 graduates from nearly 100 countries thus far. They are targeted at young adults and thus primarily reach the generation that will have to bring about a transition from the post-modern consumption model to a resource-efficient circular economy. The programmes are evaluated based on the incoming applications (number, quality, countries of origin) and the feedback received from the graduates.


The annual Green.Building.Solutions summer university, which focuses on the topic of ecological construction, was initiated by OeAD student housing in 2011. It was recognised by the UNESCO Commission as an official project of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development in 2013 and also received the Green & Blue Building Award in in the “Products/Services” category in 2014.



Participants of the GBS summer university celebrate their successful completion of the programme at the closing event. Photo © OeAD student housing


In addition, OeAD student housing established the Alternative Economic Monetary Systems (AEMS) summer school programme in 2014. As inter-university collaboration projects, the innovative Green.Building.Solutions and AEMS programmes offer a unique selling point and have provided over 150 students from all over the world with the opportunity to earn additional qualifications in the area of sustainability. By including various partner institutions and companies from a diverse range of economic and technological fields, both programmes provide specialised and highly topical content in an academic setting. They also make Vienna more attractive as an education location.


OeAD student housing received additional honours in 2019:
At a gala awards ceremony on 31 May 2019, the OeAD residence PopUp dorms was named the WORLD GOLD WINNER of the FIABCI World Prix d’ Excellence 2019 in the “Affordable Housing” category. This was the first time that the FIABCI World Prix d’ Excellence Award, which has been called the “Oscar of real estate” by the Wall Street Journal, went to an Austrian recipient in its 28-year history.


In the winter semester of 2019/2020, OeAD student housing accommodated the first-semester students of Central European University at the OeAD residence Sechshauser Strasse. On 15 November 2019, the European Solar Prize was awarded in Luxembourg, and the OeAD residence mineroom was honoured in the category of “Education and Vocational Training” for raising students’ awareness of sustainable living based on renewable energy sources. The OeAD residence PopUp dorms received special mention for the Sustainable Construction Grand Prize at the Green Solution Awards 2019 in Paris.


The OeAD residence mineroom in Leoben is the world’s first large-scale timber passive house.
Photo © J. Konstantinov


Marianne Toder is a housing coordinator at OeAD student housing and has been working at OeAD since 2007. Prior to that, she began her studies in journalism and communication sciences in Vienna.
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