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GEG 2050: DGNB proposal meets with approval and sparks widespread discussion

An alternative to the 150-page draft building energy legislation – on just three pages? A number of eyebrows were raised when the DGNB released its statement two weeks ago and people first read their emails or saw what was in the press. Is that really possible? We believe it is. Yes, it’s possible! And we’re not the only ones, as the multitude of positive reactions shows.

We have thus achieved our first objective and triggered a lively discussion on the topic. What we would like to do in the coming months is delve deeper into this discussion. For example on 21 March, we’re organising a dialogue session at the Light + Building trade fair in Frankfurt. The next day, on 22 March in Berlin, we’ll be at the convention organised by Environmental Action Germany (DUH).

Why the DGNB is campaigning for its own version of the Building Energy Act (GEG) 

Society faces a major challenge – not just in Germany but throughout the world. What can we do to control the impact of man-made climate change? One key approach is to drastically cut greenhouse gases. The construction and property industry plays a pivotal role in this even if, at the same time, it is one of the major sources of such emissions.

The key priority now has to be to tap into any potential that is not yet being exploited today. One crucial lever for doing this lies in legislative guidelines. The German government has already got off to a good start with the planned merging of the Energy Saving Ordinance (EnEV), the Energy Savings Act (EnEG) and the Renewable Energy Heating Act (EEWärmeG), but the DGNB feels that the resulting draft version of the Building Energy Act (GEG), which was unveiled at the beginning of 2017, is not what it should be.

What we need is a new approach revolving around the target – a model that starts with the goal. We need an effective, straightforward and comprehensible instrument that contributes to the fulfilment of climate protection goals. And that is precisely what we aim to achieve with the formulation of GEG 2050.

The paper, which is condensed into three pages, serves as a basis for discussion and a starting point for further work. Of course, it goes without saying that a great deal of work will need to be done to check some of the scientific subtleties or certain legal aspects when it comes to the specific wording. But for us, it’s first and foremost about the various players involved in the joint task working in unison – and not getting bogged down by the technical details as we leave the starting blocks.

The content of the GEG 2050

Naturally, developing the GEG was not just about dividing 150 by 50 and coming up with 3. Content-wise the draft legislation also contains central demands made by the DGNB, and these underscore the changes we need to make to existing legislative guidelines to achieve the desired and necessary impact.

  1. Firstly, this is about changing the goal: instead of focusing on primary energy demand, as has been the case until now, we are calling for a target on CO2
  2. In the view of the DGNB, evaluation must be based on absolute limits on CO2 Until now the reference point has been a hypothetical reference building.
  3. If targets are not met, a CO2 fee should be paid.
  4. Finally, consumption data should be measured in actual terms and this should be used as a basis for all assessments, guidelines and control mechanisms.

Initial feedback from the market

A good four weeks after publishing our response, we can see that we’ve clearly hit a raw nerve. The widespread coverage in the specialist press and the large number of personal messages we have received show that it is occupying the thoughts of many in the industry.

Feedback ranges from wholesale opinions (such as “an excellent strategy paper”) to approval (such as “we can and will wholeheartedly and actively support your key demands”), as well as detailed responses on the specific content. We welcome both positive and negative comments, because this all helps in being more specific about our demands.

And this is precisely why we are keen once again to appeal to all specialists out there. Help us to turn issues that are worthy of discussion into consensually formulated statements that don’t run against the grain of goals but make the GEG 2050 even more applicable. Is doesn’t matter whether you give us your feedback via email, on the phone, in a face-to-face meeting or at any of the above-mentioned events. We’re happy to make things happen together. Let’s supply the right ideas and make a positive difference to the status quo!

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Dr. Anna Braune

As environmental engineer, Dr. Anna Braune has a deep understanding of both, environmental effects and issues and technical expertise on processing, using and disposal of natural and industrial goods. With a focus on the built environment, she gained vast experiences by assessing technologies, building elements, entire buildings and sites using environmental Life Cycle Assessment methodologies, substance assessments, and others. Being very business-oriented, she always keeps economic constraints and opportunities in mind when proposing environmental preferable solutions. From July 2007 until October 2008 she was the Initiator and Founding CEO of the German Sustainable Building Council. From November 2008 until June 2015 she was at PE INTERNATIONAL AG as responsible Project Manager and as Principal Consultant. In September 2015 she joined the DGNB again and is now Head of Research and Trends at the DGNB.

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