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.
As public awareness grows for the need to protect the climate and save resources, there is also increasing demand for appropriate building materials. Manufacturers are expected to ‘do their bit’ in raising the standards of the environment we build around ourselves. There are some interesting ideas out there – but companies need to get more proactive.
Yes, it’s true: the D part of the DGNB name stands for Deutsch. We’re German. This has no impact on our operations as an NPO, however: we act on the global stage. Whether it’s in Europe or many other corners of the world, we set up networks and are a much sought-after partner and platform of knowledge for many issues affecting sustainable construction. Probably one of the best examples of this is a recently initiated partnership in Spain.
One third of all global resources go into the construction of buildings. But if something involves lots of resources, it also represents an opportunity to save lots of resources. This is where four criteria under the overhauled DGNB System come in: deconstruction and disassembly, potable water demand and waste water volume, sustainable resource extraction and land use.
For many people, the three leading international systems for certifying sustainable buildings – DGNB, LEED and BREEAM – are sometimes used in the same breath and the public perception is that they’re largely interchangeable. But if you take a closer look at the obvious overlaps between the systems, there are actually a number of fundamental differences. This is what our blog series is about.
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.
Thinking consciously about how natural resources are used has always been a core topic at the DGNB. Right from the beginning, the DGNB has offered a certification system that favours a holistic approach to carbon footprints. Therefore, this has always involved not only the conscious selection of building materials according to their composition and origin, but also a methodical assessment of the ‘reclaimability’ of individual residual materials – all based on strict criteria, criteria that have thus become established in the market.