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.
A certification system like the one offered by the DGNB is also an invaluable planning tool for safeguarding standards and quality. It’s an instrument that paves the way for communication for everyone involved in a development, addressing all key criteria, oiling the cogs of fundamental planning and decision-making regarding a building. And it does this without losing sight of the big picture.
Practical application: always on the agenda
Certification is only as good as the things that people who commission, plan or build a property actually read into it and how they work with it. Given this, the approach taken to apply certification in practice is central to how well it is accepted and, ultimately, the outcome of a development. This was the central thought that guided the DGNB in developing the new Version 2018 of the DGNB System.
It was important to use the right fundamental structure for wording the criteria, to remove technical details and place them in the appendices, to use the same uniform approach for all criteria across all nine schemes and to ensure there is a clear link to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, as well as the objectives of the German sustainability strategy – and much more.
Developing a system as a task for the community
None of these ideas simply appeared out of thin air. We invested a great deal of time and effort in recent months in ensuring we take on board the very latest market developments, not just within Germany but also on an international level. We also listened carefully to any criticism levelled at the DGNB certification system. A draft document was shared with our members, auditors and consultants to allow them to submit comments and thus play an active role in writing Version 2018. The 550 comments we received speak volumes. We went through each and every one of them and wherever it made sense, ideas were integrated into the system to make it even more meaningful. As an approach, this was a unique process when it comes to sustainability certification. We have now received comprehensive positive feedback, not just on the quality of the new version but also on the options we provided for people to participate in the process. Of course, we’re delighted about this because it shows that we opted for the right route.
Better than ever
If we’re asked what exactly makes Version 2018 so much better than anything offered until now for certifying sustainable buildings, it’s certainly not easy to pull out any individual aspect. Could it be the Innovation Capacities, which provide a good example of the unique planning freedom and openness to technology offered by the DGNB System? Or perhaps the bonus schemes for solutions following the ideas of the circular economy or the Agenda 2030, which reward people for focusing on the right areas, especially if they go the extra mile? Or maybe it’s the strict emphasis given to ensuring planning revolves around people.
If you look carefully and invest time in understanding Version 2018, you’ll realise it works on a number of deeper levels and these underscore why it’s incredibly reasonable to put on a pair of DGNB sustainability glasses when the next development project comes along as it simply helps people build better buildings. And who would argue that quality, preparing for the future and taking on social responsibility are not important?
Series of blog posts on what makes the DGNB criteria so special
Over the coming weeks, we would like to gradually dig deeper into some of these different levels and look at the criteria used for DGNB certification from a new angle. Why did we choose certain topics? Who benefits from all this? And in what ways are we trying to add momentum? We’ll start straight away by providing regular answers to these and other questions as part of our special feature on Version 2018.