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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 …
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.
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.
There can be no doubting that FOUR Frankfurt is currently one of the most exciting high-rise building and urban district developments in Germany. Over the next few years, an extraordinary ensemble of high-rise buildings will be erected on land covering 215,000 sqm, which used to be occupied by Deutsche Bank directly at the heart of the financial metropolis. One of the buildings will tower to a height of 228 metres (748 ft), making it the third-tallest high-rise building in Germany.
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.
The question of how we can equip our cities to meet the challenges of the future is close to all our hearts. These challenges are significant, and they can only be solved through a multilateral mind-set – a place precisely at the overlap between disciplines, through active collaboration and the sharing of information; a place where we uncover the potential to think about future urban architectural developments in a new way. A better way.