German Solar City Super Grid Positive

It seems a simple enough concept: build a development around its solar energy strategy, rather than just adding solar panels later as a kind of eco-decoration. Builders in Freiberg, Germany seem to have the right idea. The Sonnenschiff solar city, a large-scale, self-sustaining development (which comes to us via Inhabitat), uses energy efficient home design, smart solar orientation and a whole lot of photovoltaic panels pointed in the right direction to go way beyond beyond net-zero, producing four times as much energy as it actually consumes. Now that’s what we call grid-positive.

A series of large rooftop solar arrays here double as sun shades. The rooftops feature a rainwater harvesting system that irrigates the gardens and supplies the toilets with gray water. Oh, and here’s another important feature: the buildings are built to super-insulated Passivhaus standards, which means they can be heated, practically, by a single candle–or the warm-blooded human beings living within them.

Sonnenschiff Solar City

image via Inhabitat

The brainchild of Rolf Disc – the developer of Sonnenschiff (Solar Ship) and Solarsiedlung (Solar Village) – this idea started out as a vision for an entire community and was realized as a medium-density project balancing size, accessibility, green space, and solar exposure. Fifty-two homes make up a neighborhood anchored to Sonnenschiff, a mixed-use residential and commercial building that emphasizes the good life with a minimal footprint, complete with solar panel-shaded penthouses.

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Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.