Sustainable Building

Sustainability is more than just a word for the DGNB. We see it as an obligation to the whole of society; a responsibility we all bear for modern-day issues such as climate change and scarce resources, rather than something we leave for the next generation to take care of. Sustainable building can make a decisive contribution in this regard: according to the Federal Ministry for the Environment, buildings account for roughly one third of all resources used in Germany. It is a similar story with waste and carbon emissions.

One well-known model of sustainability is based on three columns: ecology, economy and social needs. The DGNB sustainability concept goes beyond this model by adding functional quality, technical quality, process quality and location quality – aspects which should be central to the planning and implementation of all sustainable buildings and urban districts.

To make the quality of sustainable building tangible and assessable, the DGNB has developed a holistic certification system. This method takes a good 40 sustainability criteria into account, which are applied as a basis for evaluating buildings and urban districts. The criteria are reviewed as necessary and adapted to domestic and international standards and legislation.

A range of factors are considered, from life cycle assessment to any risks posed to the local environment, life cycle impacts and the extent to which a building is recyclable. Social needs are also a key focus when it comes to sustainable building. Thus factors such as acoustic, thermal and visual comfort are just as important as the indoor air quality and accessibility. Further criteria which have a bearing are deconstruction and disassembly. These reflect whether construction materials can be re-used after tearing down a building. Other issues include the planning process itself, quality assurance during construction and systematic commissioning.

This is just a selection of DGNB criteria, but they underscore how varied and sometimes how detailed even the most disconnected aspects of sustainable building can be – which is how things should be if the quality of a building or urban district is to be optimised. The DGNB’s aim with this blog is to help highlight and make transparent the many benefits of sustainable building, to examine any current trends or developments with a bearing on sustainable building, and question them if necessary.