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 …
The DGNB is keen to actively contribute to transformation in the building and property sector. This role we identify with also entails involvement in a whole host of research projects, public campaigns and initiatives, all aimed at finding groundbreaking and sustainable solutions to the challenges faced by our industry. We would like to present some of the projects in more detail here.
Promoting sustainability – including in construction – is a self-declared goal of the European Union. Therefore, the project LIFE Level(s) was launched in 2019 to raise awareness for the topic among an interested public as well as the groups of actors involved in the construction of buildings. The findings of the project, which is scheduled to run until the end of 2022, have already resulted in a number of tools and publications for practical use. Reason enough to draw an interim conclusion.
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.
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.
Too many firms are still going about business in ways that lead to exploitation of both people and nature. This also applies to the construction industry. Long overdue, the proposed Supply Chain Actin in Germany will bring us a step closer to focusing more attention on this issue. But the requirements still fall short in terms of consistency. The DGNB has a clear vision of what a fair supply chain looks like, and it continues to appeal for more voluntary action.
At the moment we have less of a feeling that we could shape our own future. But crises force us to rethink our practice. Today, it is still possible to ignore climate-related issues in planning. But we can change that now – if we want to.
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.
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.
192 projects, 37 countries, 3 categories – these are the key statistics of the Green Solutions Awards, recently awarded in France to international beacon projects of sustainable building. The aim of the competition, which is backed by the DGNB, is to highlight reproducible examples of sustainable solutions in the construction sector and urban development industry. Allow us to introduce you to the winners across the main categories.
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.
The DGNB System has been applied in China for some years now and the first projects have already been certified. During BAU Congress China, taking place in July 2016 in Beijing, we talked with two experts that have practical experience in applying the DGNB System on the Chinese market. Their conclusion: The DGNB System is very well received and fits perfectly to the needs of the Chinese market.
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 …
The building and property sectors have been grappling with the topic of building information modelling (BIM) for several years now. But what does BIM mean for manufacturers, architects and planners – not to mention for building operators? Who can afford BIM? And what role does the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) play in the discussions surrounding BIM?