It’s been a good two weeks since the Wilmina Hotel received the German Sustainability Award (GSA) in the category for architecture. The bestowal of this award – for the conversion of a former women’s prison in the Berlin suburb of Charlottenburg – follows in the steps of some prodigious projects over the past ten years. Looking back, it’s clear that many of the projects that have won the award were ahead of their time. They also helped trigger debate that is as pertinent today as it has ever been.
Taxonomy and the Level(s) reporting framework are intended to make the often vague concept of sustainability more understandable to everyone in Europe, especially when it comes to sustainable business and the construction and property industry. The DGNB adapted to this development early on and has incorporated EU sustainability goals in its thinking. But how ‘European’ actually is the DGNB System?
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.
Networking – a buzzword that nowadays hardly any student or young professional can avoid. At the same time, many wonder whether it is worthwhile to get involved while still at university and whether they have a place between experienced professionals. We spoke with Kasimir Forth on this topic. The Managing Director of the Leonhard Obermeyer Center in Munich got in touch with the DGNB and its network when he was a student himself and continued to participate ever since. His answer: Absolutely!
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.
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.
Increasingly worrying climate predictions, limited carbon allowances and a rapid rise in public awareness – a lot of things have happened over the last ten years and we’ve all learnt a lot. Against this backdrop, the DGNB has evolved and moved forward, and we face a number of completely new challenges as 2020 gets underway.
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.
The vocational school centre GPES in the north of Stuttgart reached the DGNB highest standard platinum. Eight years later, Thomas Stöckle, head of the “New and extended buildings” department at the school administration office of the state capital Stuttgart, looks back in an interview, talks about the special features of school buildings, the opportunities and challenges of certification and explains what pupils and teachers particularly appreciate.
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.
The DGNB has now certified buildings or districts in around 30 countries. People from more than 40 countries were trained to become experts in sustainable building by the DGNB. One country that occupies a special position is China. The DGNB’s approach is attracting increasing interest in the world’s largest construction market. This became clear once again at the recent visit to China by DGNB’s CEO Johannes Kreißig. The visit of DGNB certified projects, important meetings with customers, building authorities and possible training partners. Lectures on the International Conference on Green and Energy-efficient Building as well as a series of award ceremonies for certified buildings. The schedule of Johannes Kreißig and our Chinese colleague Kai Zhang was packed with stops in Shanghai, Xi’an, Shenzhen. DGNB certification is gaining increasing attention in China A highlight of the current trip was the award ceremony for the Suqian Yang River Logistics Hub Building 1 & 2 as well as the Gezhouba Purple County Residence Shanghai residential project by the China Gezhouba Group Real Estate Corporation. They are the first in …
2017 was a successful year for DGNB certifications. It is becoming more and more important to organisations that they plan, build or operate buildings, or entire urban districts, holistically – taking the whole range of sustainability factors into account. This was also highlighted at the Expo Real Trade Fair for Property and Investmentin Munich in October, where the DGNB issued a record number of certificates.
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.
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 …