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One year later: How the winners of the last DGNB Sustainability Challenge are doing

Last yeas Winnder of the DGNB Sustainability Challenge

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.

“It fills a scientist with great satisfaction when three years of project work finally leads to such a positive response and the project team feels confirmed in its work,” says Volker Thome, head of the department Inorganic Materials and Recycling at the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics, looking back. He himself stood on stage last year on behalf of his project team in the research category to convince the audience of their project in just six minutes – with success.

More than just construction waste

Volker Thome explains the reasearch project

Volker Thome explains the reasearch project.

BauCycle is the name of the joint project of the Fraunhofer Institutes IBP, IML, UMSICHT and IOSB. Behind it lies an innovative approach to solutions for recycling building materials. Within the scope of the project, a holistic recycling strategy for construction waste and its fine fraction was to be researched. For this purpose, an optical process for sorting heterogeneous construction waste material up to a grain size of 1 mm was developed.

The goals the researchers have set themselves for the future are ambitious: “In the long term, we want to establish BauCycle as a sorting method on the market – not only for fine construction waste fractions smaller than 2 mm,” says Thome. To this end, the process is currently being further developed in an EU project and two industrial projects. In addition, further projects are being planned to enable BauCycle to be transferred to completely different systems than construction waste.

Great willingness to act ecologically

Wolgang Hoffmann answers question concerning their innovation.

Wolfgang Hoffmann answers questions concerning their innovation.

DAW’s glazes and wood oils based on gold of pleasure have already arrived on the market. With these, the company was able to assert itself in the most competitive category “innovation” with almost 50 applications. Among other things, the special part here is the mixed cultivation of gold of pleasure together with peas. This not only increases the total yield of the area, but also strengthens the ecosystem and biodiversity in many ways. With this idea, DAW is meeting with ever-increasing interest. “The social will to take ecological action for more climate protection has never been more tangible than today. Whether planners or craftsmen, everyone is showing great interest,” says Wolfgang Hoffmann, Senior Brand Manager of the DAW brand Caparol.

All signs on green for the climate-neutral “Neue Weststadt Esslingen” district

A bird's eye view of the future climate-neutral urban quarter in Esslingen © City of Esslingen

A bird’s eye view of the future climate-neutral urban quarter in Esslingen © City of Esslingen

The winner in the “start-up” category – Green Hydrogen Esslingen GmbH – could also benefit from this development. This company is planning, constructing and operating a power-to-gas plant as the heart of the climate-neutral city district in Esslingen Weststadt, Germany. Among other things, green hydrogen from green electricity will be used for mobility, industry, gas grid feed-in and reverse power supply.

The Team of the Green Hydrogen Esslingen GmbH with their award.

The team of the Green Hydrogen Esslingen GmbH with their award.

A lot has also happened in this project since last year. “The planning and implementation of the climate-neutral urban district is progressing as planned. The very complex approval process for the production of green hydrogen has gone well. Construction of the energy center has begun. The topping-out ceremony will be celebrated at the end of May. The core components for the implementation of the “Power2Gas and Gas2Power” power plant have been ordered. The commissioning of the energy center is planned for the end of the year. The regular operation and thus the production and sale of green hydrogen, green electricity and waste heat from the P2X processes can thus take place in the first quarter of 2021″, co-founder Prof. Dr. Manfred Norbert Fisch summarizes the current status with satisfaction.

Successor sought: DGNB Sustainability Challenge 2020

What all last year’s winners agree on is that competitions such as the DGNB Sustainability Challenge are particularly important in the area of sustainability. “Sustainability is a global issue and will also be highly relevant for future generations. Society must understand that our resources are limited and are not available indefinitely,” Thome emphasizes the urgency. And Hoffmann notes: “Competitions of this kind demonstrate the breadth of ideas and performance of our industry. It is important to have an independent platform for this evaluation of ideas”.

Therefore, the DGNB 2020 is once again looking for pioneers in the industry with their product and service innovations, business models and groundbreaking research projects that contribute to climate protection and the circular economy. Registration is possible online until 24 April. The final will take place during the second DGNB Sustainability Day on 29 June 2020 in Stuttgart.

You know someone with a future-oriented project? Then you are welcome to pass on the information.

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