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.
Mainstreaming sustainable buildings in Europe
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.
Sustainable building operations for satisfied users
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.
Making the property industry sustainable
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.
White ceramic for Hamburg’s Hafencity
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.
Creating order through high-quality architecture
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?
Economically achieving climate neutrality in building operations
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
One year later: How the winners of the last DGNB Sustainability Challenge are doing
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
Using buildings and looking after the environment
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
Architects – the conscience of the building sector
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.
The path to making all existing buildings carbon-neutral
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.
How architects can plan quieter cities
Modern cities are often too loud. This is not only due to road traffic and aircraft noise, but also to the reflective behaviour of buildings. Sustainably planned facades can help here. A Frankfurt professor has been working on the subject for six years and is calling for a rethink.
Wanted: innovators offering new building materials!
As public awareness grows for the need to protect the climate and save resources, there is also increasing demand for appropriate building materials. Manufacturers are expected to ‘do their bit’ in raising the standards of the environment we build around ourselves. There are some interesting ideas out there – but companies need to get more proactive.
The dawn of a new decade – time is running out
Increasingly worrying climate predictions, limited carbon allowances and a rapid rise in public awareness – a lot of things have happened over the last ten years and we’ve all learnt a lot. Against this backdrop, the DGNB has evolved and moved forward, and we face a number of completely new challenges as 2020 gets underway.
Treasures beneath our feet: building with earth
“Architecture is a tool to improve lives” is the vision behind and motivation for Anna Heringer’s work. For her experimental approach and outstanding climate resilient and culturally responsive design, the architect received the first Global Award from the Building Sense Now initiative, founded by DGNB CEO Dr. Christine Lemaitre and others. The award ceremony took place in Madrid, alongside the UN Climate Conference. In her talk, Heringer gave insights into her philosophy and work.
The elephant in the room – of sustainable architecture
“Sustainability in Architecture”: Under this heading guests from the fields of architecture, real estate, research and politics have discussed as part of the event series “Elephant in the room” at the Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design (ABK). Among other things, they talked about the meaning of the term itself, the right adjusting screws and the question of where the symbolic elephants can be found in the room of sustainable architecture.
Sustainability with top marks: highlights of 2019
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!
Green Solutions Awards: worldwide role models of sustainable building
192 projects, 37 countries, 3 categories – these are the key statistics of the Green Solutions Awards, recently awarded in France to international beacon projects of sustainable building. The aim of the competition, which is backed by the DGNB, is to highlight reproducible examples of sustainable solutions in the construction sector and urban development industry. Allow us to introduce you to the winners across the main categories.
COP25: Disillusionment and stagnation: 1, Optimism and action: 0
What are we doing anyway? This is the question I kept asking myself after going to this year’s UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid. Last weekend the COP25 drew to a close, once again without any real results or ambition to show for its efforts. After three days at the conference, this came as no surprise. But instead of shying away from this painful topic, it is now time for some honesty and openness.
An expensive attempt at image cultivation? Five facts showing why that’s not the point of a DGNB certificate
Once a year, the German Taxpayers Federation (BdSt) publishes its ‘Schwarzbuch’ containing examples of what it considers to be wasteful uses of tax revenues by government departments. The current edition names the DGNB certification system as one such example, under the heading of ‘Expensive Image Cultivation’. This leads us to question whether the selection and research methods used by the authors were as thorough as they should be. In this case at least, it shows that judgement was handed down without understanding the subject in the necessary depth. So here in the blog – with the necessary brevity of the format – we present the most important reasons why certification is actually worth it.
“Good architecture is inconceivable without sustainability”
DGNB CEO Dr Christine Lemaitre was joined by four architects at Expo Real 2019 to discuss ‘Sustainable Architecture in the Future’ and how this dovetails with their responsibilities, current trends and strategies. They also talked about how sustainability can become the new normal in construction.
“It makes everyday school life easier” – Interview with Thomas Stöckle (School Administration Office Stuttgart)
The vocational school centre GPES in the north of Stuttgart reached the DGNB highest standard platinum. Eight years later, Thomas Stöckle, head of the “New and extended buildings” department at the school administration office of the state capital Stuttgart, looks back in an interview, talks about the special features of school buildings, the opportunities and challenges of certification and explains what pupils and teachers particularly appreciate.
Distinguished for being climate-positive – feedback from key stakeholders
You can erect and use a building without having any negative impact on the environment. Really? Is that possible? Yes, it certainly is. Even today. For the first time, the DGNB bestowed its new Climate Positive award on eleven projects at the Expo Real 2019 trade show. We spoke to the designers, architects and users of the award-winning buildings. Read More
Answers to Climate Protection Issues – an interview with DGNB President Prof. Alexander Rudolphi
Very few could claim to have influenced German sustainable building developments in Germany as much as Prof. Alexander Rudolphi. To the DGNB, he has been an initiator, founding member and president in one – from the very start. His was reappointed to his post in 2019. We spoke to Rudolphi at the Expo Real trade show in Munich, took a snapshot together and looked beyond the horizon.
Not a duty but a privilege: The DGNB is committed!
Anyone who is committed to sustainability and responsibility should also live up to these values beyond their day-to-day business. This is why the DGNB regularly participates in charity or help-to-help projects all over the world. If you can also use a fundraising campaign to motivate your employees to take part in sports: all the better!
Much more than “just” German – the international role played by the DGNB
Yes, it’s true: the D part of the DGNB name stands for Deutsch. We’re German. This has no impact on our operations as an NPO, however: we act on the global stage. Whether it’s in Europe or many other corners of the world, we set up networks and are a much sought-after partner and platform of knowledge for many issues affecting sustainable construction. Probably one of the best examples of this is a recently initiated partnership in Spain.
Shaping the transition towards a circular economy
In recent years, the term “circular economy” has become increasingly widespread and has also reached the construction industry. There are a variety of levers for implementing the concept in the construction and real estate sector. In the report “Circular Economy – Closing loops means being fit for the future“, the DGNB has gathered these levers and addresses the relevant stakeholders whose support and participation is required for a transition towards a circular economy. Furthermore, the DGNB provides a toolbox that shows how the idea of circular economy can be realised in concrete projects in practice. Key message: the transition is actually possible, every single step counts, but we can only succeed if we cooperate. Read More
13 key planning points that help turn the spotlight on people
The average person spends up to 90 per cent of their life indoors. Or looked at another way: buildings have a major influence on our health, productivity and ability to enjoy some rest and recuperation. The DGNB has recently written a new report showing how to arrange the planning, building and operational aspects of a building in such a way that it promotes human well-being and even takes individual requirements into consideration.
The DGNB is still on the rise in China
The DGNB has now certified buildings or districts in around 30 countries. People from more than 40 countries were trained to become experts in sustainable building by the DGNB. One country that occupies a special position is China. The DGNB’s approach is attracting increasing interest in the world’s largest construction market. This became clear once again at the recent visit to China by DGNB’s CEO Johannes Kreißig.
The visit of DGNB certified projects, important meetings with customers, building authorities and possible training partners. Lectures on the International Conference on Green and Energy-efficient Building as well as a series of award ceremonies for certified buildings. The schedule of Johannes Kreißig and our Chinese colleague Kai Zhang was packed with stops in Shanghai, Xi’an, Shenzhen.
DGNB certification is gaining increasing attention in China
A highlight of the current trip was the award ceremony for the Suqian Yang River Logistics Hub Building 1 & 2 as well as the Gezhouba Purple County Residence Shanghai residential project by the China Gezhouba Group Real Estate Corporation. They are the first in the world to be certified according to the DGNB system as well as the China Three Star local standard.
Gezhouba is an important partner of the DGNB in China. The company has firmly anchored the DGNB certification in its business philosophy and has meanwhile pre-certified a whole series of construction projects according to DGNB, which are among the largest DGNB projects ever planned.
There are now more than 20 projects with a certificate or pre-certificate from the DGNB in China. Among them and throughout the country are numerous residential projects of China Gezhouba Group Real Estate Development. In Xi’an, two buildings of the world’s largest construction company CSCEC under the Xinfulindai project received a DGNB pre-certificate in platinum. A DGNB gold certificate was issued for the Sino-German Ecopark in Qingdao. It is the first city district in China that has been awarded by the DGNB.
The positive development of the DGNB certification in 2018 was also noticeable in China. Here, the certified area has almost tripled in comparison to the previous year.
DGNB with new and growing partnerships in China
But not only the certification progressed. Numerous important partnerships have been deepened, in particular with the China Society for Urban Studies (CSUS), the China Academy of Building Research (CABR) and the China Green Building Council (CGBC).
An important element for the further development of the DGNB in China is the close cooperation around the Chinese Three Star green building certification system. Here, the DGNB is working in partnership with CSUS on a comparison of the content of the two standards and an associated evaluation with the aim of being able to offer double certification in the future. The freshly honored projects have shown it works. Now it’s time to fine-tune the systems to make double certification more attractive for a broader application.
Joint initiative for more sustainability
This joint initiative is particularly important given the limited comparability of internationally available certification systems, such as DGNB, LEED or BREEAM. This often makes it difficult for investors to tell which system is right for them. Creating more transparency in the Chinese real estate market by offering double certification is an important step and benefits all parties involved. This is especially true for sustainable building, because it shifts the focus back to the actual value of certification as a planning and optimization tool for the implementation of holistic quality.
With its activities, the DGNB wants to make an important contribution to sustainability in China. The responsibility for the sustainable development of the Chinese construction and real estate industry, especially in the global context, cannot be overestimated. Partnerships, such as those built by the DGNB in recent years, are fundamental here. The DGNB is in pursuit of a common goal that can only be achieved through cooperation: the goal of securing the future of our planet.
Moving beyond ‘Yes, but…’ – No more excuses
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.
DGNB certification – 2018 highlights
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.
Building Sense Now: Introducing the initiative
Globalization has many positive aspects but when it comes to our build environment the aspects are not always so positive. With a one fits all mentality and the drive to sell the same products all over the world combined with the constant hunger for modernism and efficiency the globalized architecture often doesn’t correspond with its cultural or climate context.
Using buildings as a treasure trove of raw materials – or how to save resources during a development project
One third of all global resources go into the construction of buildings. But if something involves lots of resources, it also represents an opportunity to save lots of resources. This is where four criteria under the overhauled DGNB System come in: deconstruction and disassembly, potable water demand and waste water volume, sustainable resource extraction and land use. Read More
LCA – or why sustainability needs to take the entire lifetime of a building into account
How big is the carbon footprint of a building? How much grey energy is hidden in its four walls? If you want meaningful and honest answers, you need the right tools. The life cycle assessment (LCA) offers effective and tried-and-tested ways to ascertain the impact different construction techniques, energy concepts, building parts and materials have on the environment at every stage of the life cycle. The DGNB System was the first certification system in the world, that has taken the long-term environmental impacts of buildings into account. Read More
Planning in the early stages – or why a well-prepared project brief is crucial to sustainability
Thorough preparation is indispensable – and this is especially true with a development project. The early stages of planning are decisive for a high-quality building. The DGNB addresses the relevance of the various aspects of planning for sustainable construction, for example with three criteria: comprehensive project brief; sustainability aspects in tender phase; and urban planning and design procedure. Read More
Building technology – or when using technology makes sense
The choice of technology and how it’s used are important factors in the sustainability of a building. The “Use and integration of building technology” criterion suggests some solutions. Read More
DGNB & Co. compared – Part 3: Features that make the DGNB System special
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. Read More
DGNB & Co. compared – Part 2: Structural conditions
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.
DGNB & Co. compared – Part 1: basic differences
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. Read More
Accessibility, safety and security – or how buildings can open the door to more mobility
People should feel comfortable in buildings. This a fundamental requirement of the DGNB. And by focusing on issues such as accessibility, safety and security, its criteria for sociocultural and functional quality contribute to this aim. Read More
Certification of districts is worth it
The DGNB has been awarding certificates to sustainable districts since 2012. More than 50 projects have successfully obtained certificates so far, both inside and outside Germany. Accordingly, the DGNB decided to explore the value that can be added to a development by certification. Read More
Ready to shape the future: Christine Lemaitre re-elected to join WorldGBC’s Board of Directors
In 2008 the DGNB became the official German member of the World Green Building Council (WorldGBC), a global network of over 70 Green Building Councils around the world. Since then, the DGNB has been intensively involved in WorldGBC’s activities. Now, Christine Lemaitre, CEO of the DGNB, has been re-elected to join the World Green Building Council’s Board of Directors for another two years.
Mobile infrastructure – or the contribution buildings can make to green travel solutions
Buildings are a fixed asset and they don’t move much. Yet buildings do have something to do with movement, especially when it comes to the use of environmentally friendly transport. The DGNB has a criterion which is dedicated to the aspect of Mobility Infrastructure, and Version 2018 of its certification system recently adopted a number of topics that will be important in the future. Read More
Indoor air quality – or why good air is a must for healthy buildings
Looking after the health and comfort of everyone, no matter how old, is one of the central goals of the United Nations. Accordingly, the UN has even given the issue its own sustainable development goal (SDG). In terms of its implications for sustainable building, this has an influence on how the DGNB looks at areas such as air quality in indoor environments. It is also why this issue has its own criterion under the DGNB System. Read More
LCC – or, how do I ask the right questions about costs?
Whether people like it or not, sustainable buildings still have to be judged by how economical they are. For us, this means the DGNB System is not just built on two pillars – environmental quality, next to sociocultural and functional quality; there’s a third key pillar about financial viability: economic quality. One important factor when it comes to economic quality is the criterion Life Cycle Costing (LCC). Read More
Biodiversity – or why building owners can do more for biological variety than they realise
It wasn’t until the extent of insect extinction was understood by the general public that people began to realise how important biodiversity has now become to all of us. Starting with the good news for anyone involved in a construction project: buildings have a significant contribution to make to the promotion of biodiversity. This is aptly demonstrated by the Biodiversity criteria introduced by the DGNB for its 2018 rework of the criteria set. Read More
Exactly what was needed – or why Version 2018 of the DGNB System is much more than a simple overhaul
Certified construction? Oh yes – that’s those handy plaques in platinum or gold, the ones that allow building owners to walk around with architects and announce publicly, “Look everyone, we’re sustainable!” Sort of – yes, that’s one way to describe sustainability certificates. Though actually, buildings don’t simply earn certificates because they deserve to, especially after investing so much time and hard work. It is also a well-earned award for of all those important decisions to look after the environment, for keeping a close eye on commercial viability, and for ensuring the development will be good for the people within the buildings and districts.
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.
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.