Latest Posts

Role models for sustainability: the best sustainable projects certified by the DGNB in 2017

2017 was a successful year for DGNB certifications. It is becoming more and more important to organisations that they plan, build or operate buildings, or entire urban districts, holistically – taking the whole range of sustainability factors into account. This was also highlighted at the Expo Real Trade Fair for Property and Investmentin Munich in October, where the DGNB issued a record number of certificates.

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A sustainable vertical city: the FOUR Frankfurt project

There can be no doubting that FOUR Frankfurt is currently one of the most exciting high-rise building and urban district developments in Germany. Over the next few years, an extraordinary ensemble of high-rise buildings will be erected on land covering 215,000 sqm, which used to be occupied by Deutsche Bank directly at the heart of the financial metropolis. One of the buildings will tower to a height of 228 metres (748 ft), making it the third-tallest high-rise building in Germany.

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The DGNB in China: in future, quality will make the big difference with projects

The number of buildings that have been constructed in China in the last 15 years equals the total number of buildings that already exist in Europe. Construction volumes remain high and the demand for certifiably better buildings is growing. And this is where the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) certification system comes into play, serving as a quality standard for projects reflecting Made in Germany levels of sustainability.

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“We need more ambition, creativity and courage”

“Systems that limit planners’ creativity and design freedom are fundamentally wrong and ineffectual,” says Thomas Auer, Professor for Building Technology and Climate Responsive Design at TU Munich and Managing Director of Transsolar Energietechnik. In our blog interview, he discusses the differences between international certification systems for buildings and the special role played by the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB), also reflecting on the responsibilities architects and engineers will face as a result of necessary changes in the environment we build around ourselves.

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The DGNB celebrates 10 years: “Responsibility without tunnel vision”

For an entire decade now, the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) has done more than any other organisation in Germany to shape sustainable building. The DGNB has also been the undisputed market leader for many years. As the largest network for sustainable building in Europe, we bring the pioneers of the construction and property industry around a single table. To mark our tenth anniversary, we invited some 300 guests to celebrate this milestone with us at the Academy of Arts in Berlin (Akademie der Künste).

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The circular economy and its role as a driver of sustainability

Thinking consciously about how natural resources are used has always been a core topic at the DGNB. Right from the beginning, the DGNB has offered a certification system that favours a holistic approach to carbon footprints. Therefore, this has always involved not only the conscious selection of building materials according to their composition and origin, but also a methodical assessment of the ‘reclaimability’ of individual residual materials – all based on strict criteria, criteria that have thus become established in the market.

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“The DGNB Certificate will play an increasingly important role”

With a market share of over 80 per cent for new commercial properties and more than 60 per cent of the overall market, the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) is the undisputed market leader in the German commercial property segment, well ahead of other certification systems. This was the conclusion of the latest market report issued by BNP Paribas Real Estate – Market Focus: Green Buildings 2017. Hermann Horster, Head of Sustainability at BNP Paribas Real Estate, answered our questions about the role played by certified buildings in the investment market, also covering a variety of other issues.

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Saving the world – the DGNB’s contribution to the United Nation’s SDGs

Around a year ago on 1 January 2016, the United Nation’s landmark 2030 Agenda came into effect. The initiative lays down meaningful goals and targets for the future development of our planet with the aim of changing long-term thinking and thus facilitates life in a world of sustainability. The UN’s 17 objectives are called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and each is broken down into a total of 169 targets. These will be used by the UN and its member states to provide development guidelines for the next 15 years. The goals have also provided a foundation for the German government’s recently updated 2016 National Sustainable Development Strategy.

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“Everybody in the project understood the quality improvement“

The DGNB System has been applied in China for some years now and the first projects have already been certified. During BAU Congress China, taking place in July 2016 in Beijing, we talked with two experts that have practical experience in applying the DGNB System on the Chinese market. Their conclusion: The DGNB System is very well received and fits perfectly to the needs of the Chinese market.

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50Hertz: “A precious award when it comes to design and Baukultur”

Hardly anything makes such a difference to a city’s skyline as the architecture of its buildings. They are more than just a means to an end, more than just four walls that create space for all the things we need to get done. Buildings foster communication; their design can forge identities and make important contributions to a culture. One edifice that unites these qualities in spectacular fashion is the 50Hertz Netzquartier building in Berlin.

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Some thoughts on sustainability, by Amandus Samsøe Sattler

Sustainability means setting new goals because the old goals are no longer viable. The new goals focus on the entire life cycle and take the common good into account.

Our society in its current form is characterised by security, freedom and prosperity. Sustainability is a question of preserving this civilizational project – which we are all part of – and helping it evolve for the future.

Up until now our model of society has been based on the assumption that resources are unlimited. Or to put it differently, the structure of our society is resource-ignorant. Now we are worried about climate change and its global impacts on our lives. So we are looking at how we can continue to live in safety, freedom and prosperity despite a change in the availability of the things we have come to depend on in our lives.

For a long time we have believed we could solve this problem with technology. But technology can only ever do as much as the society which uses it – and societies mostly use technologies without thinking about their impact on the environment. The ongoing digital revolution will not help us out of our plight; if anything, it is driving and accelerating society’s dependence on fossil fuels. And we will not be able to maintain our freedom if we become completely dependent on technology. Our data and systems are being manipulated by companies we have no control over.

In reaction to this state of dependency on global corporations, movements have emerged to develop and experiment with more decentralised and emancipated structures for producing food and energy. These movements are resilient social projects with a sound footing in society. We should not underestimate such bottom-up developments, as many important changes originate in the community and not among the political elite.

There is a lot of talk about sustainability at the moment because we’re realising it is something that is lacking. Now is the time to change the way we do things. To not simply implement sustainability, but to build it and to live it. And if we want sustainability to become a relevant social movement, we also have to join the dots between sustainability and aesthetics. No one wants to live in a house simply because it’s sustainable. It must be pleasant to live in all fronts, so design also plays an important role. We choose pleasant personal environments because they provide a setting for pleasant experiences.

Architects must rise to this challenge and grab sustainability by the horns, not abandon this field to engineers and technology.

Beyond organic: sustainability in the supermarket

When we’re shopping and we think about sustainability, our thoughts quickly turn to the many shades of organic, green and vegan. But the supermarket itself – or rather the building, how it was built and the technical equipment – can also be an impressive testimony to the powers of sustainability, as the retail chain REWE has shown. I recently went on a store visit in the Frankfurt suburb of Praunheim and it was a chance to take a first-hand look at what green building means to the company.

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Climate change – can we rise to the challenge?

Two degrees doesn’t sound like a lot. Two is a fairly small number, after all. But how will a rise of two degrees Celsius in global temperatures change our lives and the world? In this case, less is actually more, as Dr Anna Braune, Head of Research & Trends at the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB), points out in her commentary on the Paris climate accord signed today in New York.

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Setting a course for the city of tomorrow

The question of how we can equip our cities to meet the challenges of the future is close to all our hearts. These challenges are significant, and they can only be solved through a multilateral mind-set – a place precisely at the overlap between disciplines, through active collaboration and the sharing of information; a place where we uncover the potential to think about future urban architectural developments in a new way. A better way.

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