18 Oct 2019, 14:25
Freja Eriksen

Almost all of Germany's non-residential buildings need climate-friendly modernisation - KfW bank

Clean Energy Wire

"Practically all" of Germany's three-million non-residential building stock will have to be renovated – and only new energy-efficient ones should be built – if Germany wants to reach its target of a close-to-climate-neutral building stock by 2050, shows a research paper by state-owned development bank KfW. Non-residential buildings account for almost half of Germany's greenhouse gas emissions from buildings, but make up only 14 percent of the country's 22 million houses. The KfW paper highlights the differences between non-residential buildings and homes in terms of ownership structures and energy consumption. The share of energy used for room heating and hot water, for example, is 20 percent lower in non-residential buildings than in residential ones, while an eight times greater proportion of energy is used for lighting. The latter means reducing power consumption is much more important in commercial buildings than in homes, where heating sources and insulation are central to saving energy. Also, differences in ownership structures – more non-residential than residential buildings belong to their users  – mean different barriers to taking on renovations. 

Altogether, 14 percent of Germany's greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings, making their energy efficient modernisation key to reaching the country's climate targets. So far, residential dwellings have been the main focus of debate on the energy efficiency of buildings in Germany, writes KfW Research. While the country aims to have a "close to climate-neutral building stock by 2050" it has failed to agree on a building energy law, which would have set new standards from 2019. The interior ministry has also cancelled a buildings commission that was meant to identify ways to reduce the sector's carbon footprint. The commission charged with monitoring Germany’s energy transition gave the country low marks on energy efficiency in its June 2019 report.

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