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.
For Prof. Alexander Rudolphi, the current sense of momentum – which is also being stoked by the youth climate strike movement – is nothing less than a ‘kick in the rear’ for the establishment. At the same time, the increasing sense of urgency surrounding climate protection is raising public awareness and – with this – motivating more to act and support measures that are more incisive than we are accustomed to.
Disappointment with German climate protection legislation
Rudolphi has little positive to say about the climate protection package unveiled by the Federal Government. He feels there are a couple of points that are “all right,” such as the model for carbon dioxide charges. But he describes the charge levels themselves as a joke. The funds the system will raise will be used for the wrong purposes. In Rudolphi’s opinion, the aim should be to establish a self-reinforcing loop, instead of which the package of legislation will break down into individual measures.
Costly, but necessary: the key to climate protection lies in existing buildings
It’s clear that in itself, erecting new buildings will not be enough to solve climate protection issues. As crucial and urgent as it may be to look at existing properties, Rudolphi believes this involves a whole slew of challenges. For example, existing buildings are staggeringly diverse in nature, which initially causes major uncertainty. This makes it necessary to look at groups of buildings on an individual basis and apply individual improvement procedures accordingly. “That does cost more, but there’s no getting around it,” explains Rudolphi.
He believes that one of the main problems is that the state has not issued any sensible guidelines for dealing with existing buildings. It’s almost like existing buildings are an appendix filed under new buildings. The current approach based on reference projects is also problematic. He says that it makes no sense doing something like stipulating that all building facades should be fitted with insulation, across the board. What’s crucial is how people achieve goals and this should be left open. Making progress is not about ticking off items in a catalogue.
The journey ahead: time is running out
On a final point, Rudolphi expressed his concerns about the forecasts made ten years ago – the very predictions that resulted in the founding of the DGNB and its current focus: “Things are faster and more dire.” Accordingly, he feels there are no longer many options or much time left to get things moving in the right direction and change things through democratic measures. Nor is there much time to bring as many people on board as possible in ways that are socially acceptable. As a result, he believes the DGNB should also position itself more clearly and more precisely than it has done.
To view the whole interview (in German) with DGNB President Prof. Alexander Rudolphi, go to: