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 …
Without carbon sinks, we will not achieve the climate goals. This was the clear message made in the World Climate Report written by international scientists. By using the right construction methods, buildings have the ability to store carbon in the long term and thus offer major potential. Experts discussed how this can be achieved at the DGNB Annual Congress.
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.
The German government has presented the results of its 2020 climate targets. The building sector failed to make the grade. What this means in tangible terms is that simply carrying on as before is not even an option. Immediate action is required. Which means a plan now – as in the next three months. It is therefore quite fitting that – practically simultaneously – the DGNB, Environmental Action Germany (DUH) and the Federal Chamber of Architects (BAK) presented a position paper that is ideal for exactly that.
The way we plan and operate our buildings offers enormous potential for saving climate-damaging CO2 emissions. However, to fully exploit this potential, it is important to take an honest, systematic look at our own consumption. DGNB member CSMM – architecture matters has implemented exactly this for its own company. Timo Brehme, founder and managing partner, reports on the motivations, experiences and insights.
As of 2022, all non-residential buildings in Baden-Wuerttemberg that apply for planning permission will be obliged to install photovoltaic (PV) units on a roof area suitable for solar energy systems. This applies to everything from production halls to supermarkets and office buildings. The new requirement was agreed recently by the state government. The DGNB welcomes this move, which it sees as a step in the right direction. All levers now need to be pulled to meet the 2050 climate protection goals. Naturally, this includes the use of solar energy – and there are many more options.
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.
Any conversation about climate protection and introducing key measures likely to make a real difference quickly moves on to the topic of buildings. Our choices regarding how buildings are planned, constructed and used have a considerable impact on the carbon levels of our planet, which are currently somewhat worrying. But there’s also good news. We can turn things around and make positive contributions to climate protection in the way we need to – but only if we work together, approach things systematically and act as quickly as possible. How specifically this should happen is addressed by a number of services recently announced by the DGNB.
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.
What are we doing anyway? This is the question I kept asking myself after going to this year’s UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid. Last weekend the COP25 drew to a close, once again without any real results or ambition to show for its efforts. After three days at the conference, this came as no surprise. But instead of shying away from this painful topic, it is now time for some honesty and openness.
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.
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.
Ten years ago, when the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) was founded, sustainability was a niche topic in the German construction and real estate industry. A decade later, we have made considerable progress.
“Systems that limit planners’ creativity and design freedom are fundamentally wrong and ineffectual,” says Thomas Auer, Professor for Building Technology and Climate Responsive Design at TU Munich and Managing Director of Transsolar Energietechnik. In our blog interview, he discusses the differences between international certification systems for buildings and the special role played by the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB), also reflecting on the responsibilities architects and engineers will face as a result of necessary changes in the environment we build around ourselves.
Two degrees doesn’t sound like a lot. Two is a fairly small number, after all. But how will a rise of two degrees Celsius in global temperatures change our lives and the world? In this case, less is actually more, as Dr Anna Braune, Head of Research & Trends at the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB), points out in her commentary on the Paris climate accord signed today in New York.