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.
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?
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. Read More
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
“I would like to build more sustainably, but the costs…”: The fear of additional costs due to sustainability often leads to doubts and hesitations during planning and implementation. A new study from Denmark now shows with regard to new building construction that this is unfounded. Here it becomes clear: more sustainable does not equal more expensive. On the contrary. Read More
Buildings contain a lot of material. These in turn are valuable resources that are becoming increasingly scarce and are responsible for many CO2 emissions. Structural engineers can counteract this consumption of materials on a massive scale. At least that is how professor Patrick Teuffel sees it. We spoke with him about built heavyweights and the current state of research in the world of materials.
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.
At the moment we have less of a feeling that we could shape our own future. But crises force us to rethink our practice. Today, it is still possible to ignore climate-related issues in planning. But we can change that now – if we want to.
The Chinese Landsea Group, established in 2001, is among the Top 100 Real Estate Developers of the country and specialized on green tech properties. Xie Yuanjian, Vice President and CTO, talks in our interview about the situation of his company in China, the development of green building and efforts to change the industry to the better.
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.
Architects and specialist planners involved in the Phase Sustainability initiative ‘met up’ for the first time on 28 July. The main idea of the get-together was to share people’s experiences dealing with sustainability issues when building. By the end of the day, the participants had benefited from a number of long-overdue discussions and gained many valuable insights. Time for Phase Sustainability to enter the next round.
As of 2022, all non-residential buildings in Baden-Wuerttemberg that apply for planning permission will be obliged to install photovoltaic (PV) units on a roof area suitable for solar energy systems. This applies to everything from production halls to supermarkets and office buildings. The new requirement was agreed recently by the state government. The DGNB welcomes this move, which it sees as a step in the right direction. All levers now need to be pulled to meet the 2050 climate protection goals. Naturally, this includes the use of solar energy – and there are many more options. Read More
Housing, park, bicycle and pedestrian bridge – the idea of the “Living Bridge Amsterdam” by Dominik Philipp Bernátek is all in one. A hybrid. A future vision of tomorrow’s architecture, which may offer new solutions in the face of increasingly dense cities. In our interview, the architect talks about the project, current challenges and his visions for our cities of the future.
Could headquarter design be a standalone discipline within architecture? More and more companies are keen to convey messages by occupying buildings that make a statement. Zalando has built itself certified headquarters at the heart of Berlin. How does an architect go about ticking all the right boxes for a company like an online retailer?
Networking – a buzzword that nowadays hardly any student or young professional can avoid. At the same time, many wonder whether it is worthwhile to get involved while still at university and whether they have a place between experienced professionals. We spoke with Kasimir Forth on this topic. The Managing Director of the Leonhard Obermeyer Center in Munich got in touch with the DGNB and its network when he was a student himself and continued to participate ever since. His answer: Absolutely! Read More
When it comes to cutting carbon emissions, buildings play a decisive role worldwide. There is considerable potential to improve the net emissions of environmentally harmful gases, not just when constructing buildings but also when operating them. What we need now is urgent action. The question is, what’s the best way to make the environment we build around ourselves ‘fit for the future’? Read More
Changing travel infrastructures, the green energy transition, climate protection, demand for affordable housing, civil participation schemes, digital transformation – the major challenges of our time are part and parcel of life in the city and conurbations. A great deal has already been undertaken to translate sustainable urban development into action on a municipal level. And demands to do something are no less pressing given the COVID-19 pandemic. Now it’s important to promote transformative power in government administration!
Described by one state secretary as a gateway to the world, the winner of leading architecture awards and hailed a ‘real win’ by one Lord Mayor, Kottenforst campus wanted its architecture to add value and make some sort of contribution in educational terms. It appears to have done precisely that. This is a project that is well worth a second look.
The 5000th certification was a real milestone for the DGNB. And what kind of project was awarded under this special premise? A rare but special scheme: a laboratory. Reason enough to take a closer look at sustainable laboratories.
Many architecture departments have yet to develop a proper understanding of the role played by sustainability in teaching and research. It’s such an important opportunity to introduce young people to the topic early and pave the way for the future. All universities should place climate protection and the conservation of resources high on their agenda.
In the first three years of the new decade, eight representative European countries work together on how to incentivise low environmental footprint, low risk and healthy buildings which are economically viable. We do so by establishing reliable assessment methods into our countries’ market mechanisms and by providing training on both the usage on specific projects and on the integration into (green) procurement criteria. We focus our activities on public authorities with their huge possibilities to leverage the targets.
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.
It has been a decade since developers started erecting sustainable buildings. They now account for an increasing share of the property market. Now it’s existing buildings that need to catch up. An important point of leverage in achieving this will be to instil sustainability as a fixed feature of the financial industry. There are reasons to be optimistic, however, thanks to initiatives like the European Green Deal and the increasing use of carbon pricing.
Alongside two other buildings, the Watermark Tower forms a kind of quarter within a quarter in Hamburg’s Hafencity. Anyone who builds for the Hanseatic city’s showpiece district will not only find a complex architectural context – but also very special building conditions.
Any conversation about climate protection and introducing key measures likely to make a real difference quickly moves on to the topic of buildings. Our choices regarding how buildings are planned, constructed and used have a considerable impact on the carbon levels of our planet, which are currently somewhat worrying. But there’s also good news. We can turn things around and make positive contributions to climate protection in the way we need to – but only if we work together, approach things systematically and act as quickly as possible. How specifically this should happen is addressed by a number of services recently announced by the DGNB.
The Nuremberg exhibition centre is expanding. The new exhibition halls mark a turning point, Hall 3C is now a structural highlight of the entire site. But what makes the project and its qualities so special?
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. Read More
Building material recycling, gold of pleasure and green hydrogen: these elements gave three finalists of the DGNB Sustainability Challenge 2019 victory in their respective categories of research, innovation and start-up. It is now almost a year since their presentation at the DGNB Sustainability Day. Reason enough to take a look at how their innovations for more sustainability in the construction and real estate industry have developed since then. Read More
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. Read More
The role played by architecture in climate change is not yet entirely clear. We’re still trying to work out if we need to take a new stance on architectural culture. Architects now bear a major responsibility. They have become the ‘conscience of construction’ – the ones expected to ask the right questions. Answering these questions is something we can only do together.