Anyone wanting to future-proof their building operations and ensure they are focussed on climate protection must take a number of aspects into account, e.g. emissions caused, cost or location related risks – AND the needs of the users. Despite all ecological and economic considerations, it is important to maintain a holistic perspective. The DGNB System for Buildings in Use takes all of this this into account. It also considers three sociocultural and functional criteria, which we present in more detail in this blog, the final one in our blog series.
The sustainable building philosophy is generally viewed positively, yet large swaths of the construction and real estate industry drag their heels when it comes to implementation, often with a ‘Yes, but…’ on their lips. In a new publication, the DGNB examines the most common misgivings.
Taxonomy and the Level(s) reporting framework are intended to make the often vague concept of sustainability more understandable to everyone in Europe, especially when it comes to sustainable business and the construction and property industry. The DGNB adapted to this development early on and has incorporated EU sustainability goals in its thinking. But how ‘European’ actually is the DGNB System?
Completing the last part of the Eisbärhaus – the so-called polar bear house – took almost exactly one year. The ensemble of buildings that lends its name to the animal from the Arctic comprises two existing buildings (Segment A and B) and a now a new building (Segment C). The idea was to do things as differently as possible compared to conventional building projects. Looking back, the architect and the DGNB project auditor tell the story behind the building. It’s a tale of twelve months, torn between the desire to try anything remotely possible, ambitious goals, Swabian records and working with so-called moon phase timber.
2020 was also an unusual and challenging year for the construction industry. Nevertheless, projects were realised last year that were impressive and most importantly demonstrate what is possible in terms of sustainability. Clear the stage for a selection of DGNB-certified building projects that prove that 2020 was far from being a lost year in sustainable construction.
Understanding and optimising a building in its entirety, creating an aesthetically pleasing and functional company headquarters, making bicycles synonymous with a trendy way of life, living sustainably, driving his business forward – these are the goals entrepreneur Dirk Zedler wanted to achieve with a single construction project. Building the headquarters for Zedler Fahrradwelt is a project, which makes use of the DGNB Sustainability Certificate for Buildings In Use to create an interconnected, sustainable building.
The way we plan and operate our buildings offers enormous potential for saving climate-damaging CO2 emissions. However, to fully exploit this potential, it is important to take an honest, systematic look at our own consumption. DGNB member CSMM – architecture matters has implemented exactly this for its own company. Timo Brehme, founder and managing partner, reports on the motivations, experiences and insights.
If you want to prepare buildings for the future and safeguard the value of your assets in the long term, you’ll need a property strategy that is not only geared to the challenges of climate protection, but also makes sense in economic terms. It will also need to weigh up opportunities and threats for each specific building. This is where the DGNB System for Buildings in Use comes in. We use nine criteria to focus the mind on all kinds of topics with a bearing on sustainability. In a series of blog posts, we describe why it makes sense for all building stakeholders to think more about these topics. In this second post, we consider the economically relevant factors.
There are roughly 20 million buildings in use in Germany alone – millions of properties that highlight so much potential to achieve our climate protection goals. The question is, where do we begin? Is there something every individual can do – in practical terms – to use or operate the buildings they own or occupy more sustainably? This is where the DGNB System for Buildings in Use comes in. We use nine criteria to focus the mind on all factors with a bearing on sustainability. In a series of blog posts, we describe why it makes sense for everyone with a stake in buildings to think more about these topics. In our first post, we look at the three criteria of buildings in use, which are relevant for the environment.
All existing buildings in use in Germany must be carbon-neutral by 2050. This is truly a Herculean task for the entire construction and real estate industry. For building owners, users and real-estate portfolio owners, this means their CO2 balance at the end of the year for ongoing building operations must be zero. For this to succeed, a targeted, holistic and, at the same time, building-specific approach to sustainable optimisation is needed. The system’s solution here is simple.
A DGNB Certificate in Platinum means meeting the highest standards for holistic quality in all aspects of sustainability – for new buildings as well as buildings in use and urban districts. To kick off the new year, we would like to take time to look back at a few DGNB certification highlights of 2019 and use them as a source of inspiration for an ambitious 2020. Let’s get started!
Urban districts, buildings and interiors which have been awarded a DGNB certificate stand apart from the rest of the market thanks to their high quality and because they are already geared to future requirements. We’re pleased to present a selection of the projects which make up the best of the best of 2018.
For many people, the three leading international systems for certifying sustainable buildings – DGNB, LEED and BREEAM – are sometimes used in the same breath and the public perception is that they’re largely interchangeable. But if you take a closer look at the obvious overlaps between the systems, there are actually a number of fundamental differences. This is what our blog series is about.
For many people, the three leading international systems for certifying sustainable buildings – DGNB, LEED and BREEAM – are sometimes used in the same breath and the public perception is that they’re largely interchangeable. But if you take a closer look at the obvious overlaps between the systems, there are actually a number of fundamental differences, so it’s not quite right to consider them synonymous.
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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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.
Renovating an office building that’s been standing empty for years is not the kind of decision you make lightly, especially if you’re a property developer. But this is precisely what happened in the Westend district of Frankfurt, and now the project is a shining example to others. The people who made this a reality are now the proud owners of a DGNB Certificate in Platinum – confirmation that the renovation achieved the very highest standards of sustainability. This was followed by a DGNB Diamond, testifying to the high architectural standards of the development.
Ever since the European Union declared sustainability a competitive advantage, the property industry has been in turmoil. Everyone is talking about ESG – or environmental, social and governance. Of course a property being sustainable – because it demonstrably takes environmental, social and governance factors into account during construction, renovations or operation – is nothing new. But it does make you wonder why everything suddenly feels so different and exciting … because a three-letter acronym is doing the rounds. The DGNB has been pointing the way forward in sustainable building for more than 15 years.
Without carbon sinks, we will not achieve the climate goals. This was the clear message made in the World Climate Report written by international scientists. By using the right construction methods, buildings have the ability to store carbon in the long term and thus offer major potential. Experts discussed how this can be achieved at the DGNB Annual Congress.
Issues surrounding sustainable financing have been edging closer and closer to the building and property industry in recent years. If you’re an investor, or at a big company, the term sustainable finance will meet you at every corner. To dig deeper, experts at the DGNB Annual Congress talked about their everyday experience in this area.
There’s not much time left to meet the climate targets, and the building sector in particular needs to pick up a lot of momentum. Reason enough for Dr Christine Lemaitre (DGNB) to join Dr Anna Braune (DGNB), Jürgen Reimann (EDGE Technologies) and Jan Zak (ikl) at the DGNB Annual Congress 2023 and once again call for a climate protection reset. Indeed, there are effective ways to do something now, even with projects already underway or existing buildings – assuming the will is there.
Our environment has a significant influence on physical and mental well-being – often without us realising it, or recognising the causes. The building and property industry thus bears an important responsibility when it comes to planning and designing urban spaces – indoors and outdoors. At the DGNB Annual Congress, Professor Eckart von Hirschhausen (founder of the Healthy Planet – Healthy People Foundation, or GEGM), Professor Mazda Adli (Fliedner Hospital, Berlin) and Rudi Scheuermann (Arup) explained how our well-being is impaired by external influences of city life. They also considered ways to make city life more enjoyable.
Our towns and cities will need to adapt in order to deal with challenges of climate change. But to allow our cities to adapt to the changing environment, we also need to change our lives and behaviour. The concrete measures this involves and the ideas they’re based on were presented by Prof. Matthias Rudolph, Paul Eldag, Gerhard Hauber and Rolf Messerschmidt at this year’s DGNB annual digital congress.
While terms like sustainability and climate protection are now topics of intense discussion in the building sector and frequently receive attention at major meetings in industry, the topic of biodiversity is yet to become part of everyday life among companies. At the DGNB Annual Congress 2023, biodiversity expert Dr Frauke Fischer, Pascal Bunk (Knauf Gypsum) and Sven Schulz (Lake Constance Foundation) explained why this is becoming a problem. They also discussed potential solutions to the growing biodiversity crisis.
The building sector is undergoing a transformation, moving away from linear practices to a systematically circular economy. What sounds entirely logical and highly appealing in theory, however, has until now been a huge challenge in practice. The new building material passport, launched to coincide with our annual online conference, offers a key DGNB instrument for pulling together documentation that will provide important support with this transformation. Our aim is to establish a common basis in this area and create transparency. During the recent event, as well as discussing the content of the passport and different ways to use it, experts considered where to go next with this important document. We look back at the discussion.
The DGNB has been appointed to the steering committee of the recently founded Davos Baukultur Alliance. The appointment was announced at the Second Conference of European Ministers of Culture. The platform brings together representatives of business, the public sector and civil society with the aim of jointly safeguarding high-quality Baukultur in Europe. This is a good opportunity to take a closer look at the importance of Baukultur at the DGNB.
Time and again we see evidence that we stopped expecting buildings to last for eternity many years ago. No sooner the first signs of patina appear on a building – after twenty, thirty or forty years – people start discussing whether it should be torn down, or whether it would make sense to renovate it after all. In a recent interview, DGNB CEO Dr Christine Lemaitre and Thomas Auer, professor for climate-friendly building at the Technical University of Munich, explained why that doesn’t have to be the case.
It’s been a good two weeks since the Wilmina Hotel received the German Sustainability Award (GSA) in the category for architecture. The bestowal of this award – for the conversion of a former women’s prison in the Berlin suburb of Charlottenburg – follows in the steps of some prodigious projects over the past ten years. Looking back, it’s clear that many of the projects that have won the award were ahead of their time. They also helped trigger debate that is as pertinent today as it has ever been.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained. A wise old saying, and one that proved to be totally true for the developer Edge. When Edge first started planning the Edge Suedkreuz office complex in 2019, the hybrid timber construction it plumped for was still new territory and an area few had detailed experience in. Fast forward to October 2022 and the project has been officially confirmed as the highest-scoring development ever certified by the DGNB. Based on their feedback, the users of the office complex can attest to this – on all fronts. The bold undertaking was certainly worth it.
Promoting sustainability – including in construction – is a self-declared goal of the European Union. Therefore, the project LIFE Level(s) was launched in 2019 to raise awareness for the topic among an interested public as well as the groups of actors involved in the construction of buildings. The findings of the project, which is scheduled to run until the end of 2022, have already resulted in a number of tools and publications for practical use. Reason enough to draw an interim conclusion.
For architects, working on existing buildings can be exciting, but it can also be quite challenging. Apart from technical imponderables, it’s important to ensure ideas brought to the table work in harmony with things already in place. Reichel Architects have succeeded in bringing buildings owned by the Evangelical Bank in Kassel in tune with modern times – not only in terms of design, but also when it comes to energy use.
For days now, everywhere we look we’re forced to hear outcry, warnings and worries about changes to building efficiency funding – the German BEG scheme for new buildings. The criticism being levelled at the new rule, which means subsidies will only be awarded if sustainability factors are taken into account, comes in as many guises as the topic of sustainable construction itself. We no longer want to watch what is happening without passing comment.
Sustainable construction is booming in Germany. So how are things going for our neighbours? How is sustainable building faring in other European countries and where does Germany stand in comparison? DGNB CEO Dr Christine Lemaitre seized the opportunity offered by our 2022 annual congress to exchange notes with our friends and partners working for the Green Building Council in other European countries.
A better world in 2030 is to be achieved with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations. To ensure that these are seen and heard, Marc Buckley is campaigning as an advocate for the SDGs. In this second part of the interview, we talk about the status quo, green washing, the role of the building sector and where the journey is headed.
End poverty, protect the climate, equality, leaving no one behind. The content of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) sounds just right, but how do you get there? Many have racked their brains over this, including Marc Buckley. He has been appointed by the UN as an advocate for the SDGs. In this first of a two-part interview he talks about his role and how the SDGs are really to be understood.
In Germany, the community of volunteer firefighters plays a key role in dealing with fires, floods and other major incidents. Recently, a new working facility was built for the special community of volunteers in the Hessian town of Caldern. Now, when an emergency call comes in, the firefighters burst out of a sustainable building that is even the proud owner of a DGNB Gold Certificate. It’s also worth mentioning that it was the first time in the history of the DGNB that a firefighting organisation has been through the certification process.
On 22 July 2021, Dr Christine Lemaitre (CEO, DGNB – German Sustainable Building Council) and Prashant Kapoor (Chief Industry Specialist, IFC Climate Business Group, World Bank Group) kicked off the free Master Classes of the Building Sense Now initiative and MISEREOR. Since then, people from 47 countries have participated in the global knowledge exchange on climate-smart building. All past events are available online. One more Master Class will be taking place in February, and more are in the planning.
Replicable solutions for sustainable and climate-friendly construction worldwide – projects that adhere to such principles are honoured by the international Green Solutions Awards. This year’s award ceremony took place on November 10 at the 26th Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. Among the jury members was Thomas Kraubitz, Director and Head of Sustainability in Europe at Buro Happold, and a member of the DGNB board of directors. We spoke to Mr Kraubitz about recent developments in the industry worldwide and current trends in the area of sustainable building.
Established office setups have been shaken from top to bottom since coronavirus arrived nearly two years ago. In response, more flexible working arrangements have been required. At Axel Springer, a change in thinking was already underway before the pandemic. In 2013, an architecture project was put out to tender for a new building offering ultimate flexibility in terms of work structures. The new Axel Springer building entered use in 2020 and is now open for business to more than 3000 employees. As well as receiving DGNB certification in gold for high standards of sustainability in new construction, the building also received DGNB certification in diamond to underscore its high architectural quality.
As well as shaping our environment, buildings preserve the memory of times long past. Achieving climate targets also means it’s important to look after existing buildings, as was the case in Berlin recently with the refurbishment of a residential building more than 130 years old. The project has underscored that it is possible to carry out renovations in keeping with preservation orders and sustainability needs.
What we’re hearing isn’t surprising – sadly – but that doesn’t make it any less shocking or, above all, any less significant: the Sixth Assessment Report on the world climate puts an end to the era of climate change denial. To maintain tolerable levels of life on Earth, decisive action is required now. The only real option available to us is to systematically cut carbon emissions. This is where action is called for across the entire building sector – and time is running out.
The new biology and chemistry block at Schubart Grammar School in Aalen – what better place for students and teachers to experience at first hand the interplay between construction excellence and science. Developed by Liebel Architekten BDA in collaboration with Transsolar, the science wing makes groundbreaking use of three environmentally friendly forms of energy: light, thermal energy, and geothermal energy. It’s a pleasant place to learn science. And now it proudly sports a DGNB Climate Positive award.
The 15th UN Biodiversity Conference has been rescheduled to take place in October of this year in the Chinese city of Kunming. At the conference – known as the CBD COP 15 – member states will set a new 10-year strategy until 2030. Currently, the DGNB is the only association in the building sector to have made a clear commitment to the CBD. Why? Because there are many overlaps between building and biodiversity – as this post explains in a nutshell.
The German government has presented the results of its 2020 climate targets. The building sector failed to make the grade. What this means in tangible terms is that simply carrying on as before is not even an option. Immediate action is required. Which means a plan now – as in the next three months. It is therefore quite fitting that – practically simultaneously – the DGNB, Environmental Action Germany (DUH) and the Federal Chamber of Architects (BAK) presented a position paper that is ideal for exactly that.
The construction industry’s transformation towards more sustainability cannot be solved on the basis of only optimising individual buildings. Instead, the focus is shifting to optimising whole districts. The DGNB offers an independent system for this topic. Dr. Stephan Anders, DGNB Head of Certification, has gathered some information on sustainable cities, districts and the challenge of planning sustainable living environments.
Too many firms are still going about business in ways that lead to exploitation of both people and nature. This also applies to the construction industry. Long overdue, the proposed Supply Chain Actin in Germany will bring us a step closer to focusing more attention on this issue. But the requirements still fall short in terms of consistency. The DGNB has a clear vision of what a fair supply chain looks like, and it continues to appeal for more voluntary action.
Bruno Sauer, CEO of the Green Building Council España, summarises in an interview the introduction of the DGNB System in Spain, talks about special conditions of the Spanish real estate market, the challenges of 2020 and explains why solutions in the building sector must be pan-European.
With its Green Deal, the EU under the leadership of Ursula von der Leyen has caused quite a stir. When it comes to climate protection and sustainability, there’s a new spirit of optimism. It’s right and important that the building industry plays a central role on this path to becoming the ‘first carbon-neutral continent’. The penny has finally dropped and not been ‘lobbied off the stage’ by reservations and objections.
Circular Economy or Cradle to Cradle is often talked about when it comes to planning buildings or developing products. The question the logistics and processes at the end of use is hardly ever discussed. But if we do not make deconstruction sustainable and do not close cycles of materials at this point, many problems will remain unsolved. The DGNB would like to change this!