I’m getting tired of hearing it. Anyone who, like me, is strongly committed to more sustainability on the one hand and moderates discussion groups quite frequently on the other, encounters it again and again: this annoying “we have to”. My theory: It’s of no use to anyone. Except perhaps those who say it. But let’s take it one step at a time. Last week, I had the privilege of moderating two rounds at the Expo Real real estate and investor fair. In principle, they went well and were entertaining – at least that was the feedback I received afterwards. And to a large extent I would agree with that. If it weren’t for the unkindness that tends to run rampant at such panels. We have to do more, they say. We have to act faster. We have to do whatever. To make sure that the urgency of the “we must” really gets through, the voice rises, it becomes louder and more insistent. Because we have to. And everyone should finally understand. Who is “we” in …
For architects, working on existing buildings can be exciting, but it can also be quite challenging. Apart from technical imponderables, it’s important to ensure ideas brought to the table work in harmony with things already in place. Reichel Architects have succeeded in bringing buildings owned by the Evangelical Bank in Kassel in tune with modern times – not only in terms of design, but also when it comes to energy use.
For days now, everywhere we look we’re forced to hear outcry, warnings and worries about changes to building efficiency funding – the German BEG scheme for new buildings. The criticism being levelled at the new rule, which means subsidies will only be awarded if sustainability factors are taken into account, comes in as many guises as the topic of sustainable construction itself. We no longer want to watch what is happening without passing comment.
Sustainable construction is booming in Germany. So how are things going for our neighbours? How is sustainable building faring in other European countries and where does Germany stand in comparison? DGNB CEO Dr Christine Lemaitre seized the opportunity offered by our 2022 annual congress to exchange notes with our friends and partners working for the Green Building Council in other European countries.
As well as shaping our environment, buildings preserve the memory of times long past. Achieving climate targets also means it’s important to look after existing buildings, as was the case in Berlin recently with the refurbishment of a residential building more than 130 years old. The project has underscored that it is possible to carry out renovations in keeping with preservation orders and sustainability needs.
What we’re hearing isn’t surprising – sadly – but that doesn’t make it any less shocking or, above all, any less significant: the Sixth Assessment Report on the world climate puts an end to the era of climate change denial. To maintain tolerable levels of life on Earth, decisive action is required now. The only real option available to us is to systematically cut carbon emissions. This is where action is called for across the entire building sector – and time is running out.
Architects and specialist planners involved in the Phase Sustainability initiative ‘met up’ for the first time on 28 July. The main idea of the get-together was to share people’s experiences dealing with sustainability issues when building. By the end of the day, the participants had benefited from a number of long-overdue discussions and gained many valuable insights. Time for Phase Sustainability to enter the next round.
Housing, park, bicycle and pedestrian bridge – the idea of the “Living Bridge Amsterdam” by Dominik Philipp Bernátek is all in one. A hybrid. A future vision of tomorrow’s architecture, which may offer new solutions in the face of increasingly dense cities. In our interview, the architect talks about the project, current challenges and his visions for our cities of the future.
Changing travel infrastructures, the green energy transition, climate protection, demand for affordable housing, civil participation schemes, digital transformation – the major challenges of our time are part and parcel of life in the city and conurbations. A great deal has already been undertaken to translate sustainable urban development into action on a municipal level. And demands to do something are no less pressing given the COVID-19 pandemic. Now it’s important to promote transformative power in government administration!
Described by one state secretary as a gateway to the world, the winner of leading architecture awards and hailed a ‘real win’ by one Lord Mayor, Kottenforst campus wanted its architecture to add value and make some sort of contribution in educational terms. It appears to have done precisely that. This is a project that is well worth a second look.
Many architecture departments have yet to develop a proper understanding of the role played by sustainability in teaching and research. It’s such an important opportunity to introduce young people to the topic early and pave the way for the future. All universities should place climate protection and the conservation of resources high on their agenda.
Alongside two other buildings, the Watermark Tower forms a kind of quarter within a quarter in Hamburg’s Hafencity. Anyone who builds for the Hanseatic city’s showpiece district will not only find a complex architectural context – but also very special building conditions.
The role played by architecture in climate change is not yet entirely clear. We’re still trying to work out if we need to take a new stance on architectural culture. Architects now bear a major responsibility. They have become the ‘conscience of construction’ – the ones expected to ask the right questions. Answering these questions is something we can only do together.
“Architecture is a tool to improve lives” is the vision behind and motivation for Anna Heringer’s work. For her experimental approach and outstanding climate resilient and culturally responsive design, the architect received the first Global Award from the Building Sense Now initiative, founded by DGNB CEO Dr. Christine Lemaitre and others. The award ceremony took place in Madrid, alongside the UN Climate Conference. In her talk, Heringer gave insights into her philosophy and work.
Once a year, the German Taxpayers Federation (BdSt) publishes its ‘Schwarzbuch’ containing examples of what it considers to be wasteful uses of tax revenues by government departments. The current edition names the DGNB certification system as one such example, under the heading of ‘Expensive Image Cultivation’. This leads us to question whether the selection and research methods used by the authors were as thorough as they should be. In this case at least, it shows that judgement was handed down without understanding the subject in the necessary depth. So here in the blog – with the necessary brevity of the format – we present the most important reasons why certification is actually worth it.
DGNB CEO Dr Christine Lemaitre was joined by four architects at Expo Real 2019 to discuss ‘Sustainable Architecture in the Future’ and how this dovetails with their responsibilities, current trends and strategies. They also talked about how sustainability can become the new normal in construction.
You can erect and use a building without having any negative impact on the environment. Really? Is that possible? Yes, it certainly is. Even today. For the first time, the DGNB bestowed its new Climate Positive award on eleven projects at the Expo Real 2019 trade show. We spoke to the designers, architects and users of the award-winning buildings.
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.
Hardly anything makes such a difference to a city’s skyline as the architecture of its buildings. They are more than just a means to an end, more than just four walls that create space for all the things we need to get done. Buildings foster communication; their design can forge identities and make important contributions to a culture. One edifice that unites these qualities in spectacular fashion is the 50Hertz Netzquartier building in Berlin.
Sustainability means setting new goals because the old goals are no longer viable. The new goals focus on the entire life cycle and take the common good into account. Our society in its current form is characterised by security, freedom and prosperity. Sustainability is a question of preserving this civilizational project – which we are all part of – and helping it evolve for the future. Up until now our model of society has been based on the assumption that resources are unlimited. Or to put it differently, the structure of our society is resource-ignorant. Now we are worried about climate change and its global impacts on our lives. So we are looking at how we can continue to live in safety, freedom and prosperity despite a change in the availability of the things we have come to depend on in our lives. For a long time we have believed we could solve this problem with technology. But technology can only ever do as much as the society which uses it – and societies mostly …