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Programme of immediate action for an environmental problem child: the building sector

Position paper DGNB BAK DUH

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.

1-1-100-100. This was the formula proposed in the joint position paper. The demands were actually targeted at the next federal government (2021 is an election year in Germany). But now that the sectors of industry that are missing targets have been announced, this whole issue is all the more topical and important.

So what’s this 1-1-100-100 formula all about?

In essence, our new joint task force is calling for the immediate launch of a wave of renovation measures in Germany – and specifically: the renovation of all existing buildings. So we’re not just talking residential property. We also mean commercial property and buildings in public ownership.

Our roadmap for solving these issues is based on the four key thrusts of 1-1-100-100:

  • 1: One million buildings need to be renovated each year based on climate-neutral methods; it’s the job of the German government to ensure this happens and the pace of renovation will have to increase fourfold
  • 1: The German government should give away one million renovation roadmaps every year to show building owners the concrete actions that need to be taken to ensure buildings do more for climate protection – in keeping with objectives
  • 100: 100% transparency – the government must log the energy performance of all buildings so that specific action plans can be drafted in the first place
  • 100: After this year’s general election, the new government should launch a 100-day programme of immediate action for implementing climate protection measures in buildings

No more delaying tactics when it comes to climate protection in the building sector

It’s important to emphasise that the demands we have laid out are by no means utopian. They’re based on entirely plausible assumptions and a solid understanding of practicalities when it comes to sustainable construction. But they are only possible with the necessary willingness on the part of political decision-makers to plan what happens next and actually make decisions. For this process of transformation to work, for the building and property industry to shift to a holistic understanding of quality based on the entire life cycle of buildings, the right incentives need to be in place. Not at some point in the distant future, but now.

Alternatively, to use the words of Markus Müller, President of the Baden-Wuerttemberg Chamber of Architects: “Ambitious climate protection targets are not achieved in the building sector through political decision-making, but by breaking them down into meaningful verification processes, funding instruments and – based on these – front-line building activity. The longer we wait to actually do something about the Paris climate protection targets, the more expensive it becomes in financial, environmental and economic terms, but also in terms of justice towards future generations.

As such, there’s only one thing we keep emphasising – like repeating a mantra on a prayer wheel: making buildings climate-positive is already possible today. You just have to want it. The German government has the opportunity right now to really lead the way – by defining the path ahead with clear targets, by introducing consistent and coherent monitoring and by twiddling the right buttons and offering proper funding.

An invitation to share, support and ‘up the ante’

I can only invite everyone to take a closer look at our position paper and the demands we have formulated in it. Form your own opinions. Feel free to share them through your personal networks. Post them for everyone to discuss. Actively discuss issues with those who object, who you will undoubtedly encounter, and don’t be fobbed off by their sweeping statements.

We welcome support from everyone – be they associations, environmental organisations, local authorities, companies or private individuals. Standing as one, we are many. And this noticeably adds to the pressure on decision-makers. So let’s seize on this momentum together. Because now is the time for change.


Filed under: Impulse


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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