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.
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.
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.
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.
Thinking consciously about how natural resources are used has always been a core topic at the DGNB. Right from the beginning, the DGNB has offered a certification system that favours a holistic approach to carbon footprints. Therefore, this has always involved not only the conscious selection of building materials according to their composition and origin, but also a methodical assessment of the ‘reclaimability’ of individual residual materials – all based on strict criteria, criteria that have thus become established in the market.
Around a year ago on 1 January 2016, the United Nation’s landmark 2030 Agenda came into effect. The initiative lays down meaningful goals and targets for the future development of our planet with the aim of changing long-term thinking and thus facilitates life in a world of sustainability. The UN’s 17 objectives are called the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and each is broken down into a total of 169 targets. These will be used by the UN and its member states to provide development guidelines for the next 15 years. The goals have also provided a foundation for the German government’s recently updated 2016 National Sustainable Development Strategy.
Sustainability means setting new goals because the old goals are no longer viable. The new goals focus on the entire life cycle and take the common good into account. Our society in its current form is characterised by security, freedom and prosperity. Sustainability is a question of preserving this civilizational project – which we are all part of – and helping it evolve for the future. Up until now our model of society has been based on the assumption that resources are unlimited. Or to put it differently, the structure of our society is resource-ignorant. Now we are worried about climate change and its global impacts on our lives. So we are looking at how we can continue to live in safety, freedom and prosperity despite a change in the availability of the things we have come to depend on in our lives. For a long time we have believed we could solve this problem with technology. But technology can only ever do as much as the society which uses it – and societies mostly …
The building and property sectors have been grappling with the topic of building information modelling (BIM) for several years now. But what does BIM mean for manufacturers, architects and planners – not to mention for building operators? Who can afford BIM? And what role does the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) play in the discussions surrounding BIM?
Two degrees doesn’t sound like a lot. Two is a fairly small number, after all. But how will a rise of two degrees Celsius in global temperatures change our lives and the world? In this case, less is actually more, as Dr Anna Braune, Head of Research & Trends at the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB), points out in her commentary on the Paris climate accord signed today in New York.