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A new European Bauhaus movement? Count us in!

Ursula von der Leyen // CC-BY-4.0: © European Union 2019 – Source: EP

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.

In a recent article in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine, von der Leyen expanded on this and outlined her vision of a new European Bauhaus movement. In part, what she wrote can be interpreted as a summary of everything the DGNB has stood for since it was founded in 2007.

Some excerpts: “We must rethink and replan”; “We need an economic model that gives back to the planet what it takes away from it through a circular economy […]” And also: “… this systemic change needs its own aesthetics – blending design and sustainability.

The EU Commission wants the new European Bauhaus movement to “stimulate debate on new construction methods and design forms”. This is an important and good move because it’s on a cultural level, and this can be unbelievably fruitful, as we’ve been privileged to witness ourselves time and time again at the DGNB thanks to our networks. This is all about allowing people to see things from a different angle, benefit from their experiences and work out the ideal solutions together. This is how von der Leyen wants to “help make our 21st century more beautiful and humane”. What a fabulous plan. Count us in!

A call for more teamwork and interdisciplinary methods

There is also a good fit with the new European Bauhaus movement seeing itself as a “collaborative design and creative space, where architects, artists, students, scientists, engineers and designers work together”. The key to this aspiration is collaboration and working across different disciplines. This is something we ascribe to enthusiastically at the DGNB – not only through our DGNB System Partners in Denmark, Austria, Spain and Switzerland, but also through dozens of partners around the world (if we listed them all here it would be a very long article). We can also point to our initiatives and networks, such as Phase Sustainability, Klimapositive Städte und Gemeinden, G17 and Construction 21.

In addition, the ideas revolving around digital innovation outlined in the vision of the new European Bauhaus overlap with areas the DGNB has been working on with new partners like the Leonhard Obermeyer Center at the Technical University of Munich, planen bauen 4.0, BIM Day Germany and BIM World. The DGNB’s role in this area is to help other stakeholders implement sustainability as a key requirement of digital transformation. When it comes to digitalising construction, we need to be careful that we don’t slide back into thinking that ‘doing a lot automatically achieves a lot’. The goal outlined by von der Leyen in this respect is to achieve “climate-neutral cities that are more liveable”. Another item we can put a tick next to.

Not just flying the flag for the few

As euphoric as some may feel, it’s crucial that the contemplated movement is not restricted to the circles of the elite or allowed to become yet another flagship project. Instead, it should motivate stakeholders across the board and animate others to follow suit. Better still, it should inspire others to get involved and shape the future themselves. Then, and only then, would the Green Deal described by von der Leyen as a “cultural project” achieve the anticipated impact with its Bauhaus extension. This is where our newly established Wissensstiftung, for example, comes in and provides the building blocks to make sustainable construction a reality in your own project.

We’d love to help shape this whole concept and play an active role with our German and European network of thought leaders and pioneers. And share our experience. And learn from others in the process. As part of “a movement that makes our cities and homes more sustainable and worth living in” – as the President of the European Commission put it herself in Frankfurter Allgemeine.

Cover picture: CC-BY-4.0: © European Union 2019 – Source: EP

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Dr. Christine Lemaitre

Dr. Christine Lemaitre was born in Gießen, Germany in 1975 and studied structural engineering at the University of Stuttgart from 1995 to 2000. After working in the USA for two years as structural engineer, she started in 2003 working at the Institute of Lightweight Structures Design and Construction at the University of Stuttgart as a research and teaching assistant. In 2007, she started as a project manager for R&D at Bilfinger Berger AG in the area of resource efficient buildings. She completed her phd thesis on adaptive lightweight structures in 2008. In January 2009 she took on the role as director certification system of the German Sustainable Building Council. Since February 2010 Dr. Christine Lemaitre is the CEO of the German Sustainable Building Council. Since 2013 she is member of the board of directors of the Sustainable Building Alliance. From 2015 until June 2019 she was Chair of the European Regional Network (ERN) of the World Green Building Council. Since 2016 she is board member of the World Green Building Council (WGBC).

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