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Building regulations for Vienna - Pioneer in solar systems

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Vienna is paving the way for solar energy: The planned amendment to the Vienna Building Regulations (the assessment period expired on 18 May 2020) provides for mandatory solar systems on newly constructed residential buildings. Solar energy systems were already mandatory for all new buildings in Vienna, with the exception of residential and educational buildings, and now residential and educational buildings will follow.

Specifically, the amended sec 118 of the Vienna Building Regulations provides the following: Newly erected residential buildings (with the exception of residential buildings with a maximum of 2 apartments and allotment garden houses) must have solar installations with a peak output of at least 1 kWp per characteristic length of the building and for each 300 m² of conditioned gross floor area. The characteristic length is a measure for the compactness of a building and is calculated based on the heated gross volume and the surface area. The authority may waive the obligation for residential buildings on application if implementation of the solar energy system is not feasible for technical or economic reasons. This exception does not apply to other buildings: if installation on the building is not possible, the solar energy system must be installed on replacement areas within the municipal territory of Vienna.

The electricity produced shall be used to cover part of the building's electricity consumption. The legislator's hope, however, is that not only the legally required minimum level will be met, but that through overfulfilment, further electricity needs of the building will also be covered.

Compared to the rest of Austria, Vienna therefore stands out with the most far-reaching obligations regarding solar systems to date: In the other federal provinces, there are subsidies and exemptions from permit requirements for solar energy systems of certain sizes, but so far no comparably strict regulation on the mandatory installation of solar energy systems for (almost) all types of buildings.

In addition to the obligation to install solar energy systems, the draft amendment to the Vienna Building Regulations also anchors climate issues in the planning objectives of urban planning and expands the existing Advisory Board for Urban Planning and Design to include an expert in the field of climate protection and energy. Furthermore, the Vienna Garages Act introduces an obligation for non-residential buildings to establish a charging point for electric vehicles on every tenth parking space. In the construction of residential buildings an empty conduit must be provided for each parking space to establish a power supply, but only if there are more than ten parking spaces in total.

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