11 May 2023, 13:14
Carolina Kyllmann

German buildings minister opposes stricter energy efficiency rules for new houses

Handelsblatt / Clean Energy Wire

German buildings minister Klara Geywitz has warned against increasing energy standards for new buildings, saying the sector was already making a major contribution to reducing emissions by decarbonising heat supply, business daily Handelsblatt reports. “I am not convinced that we also have to do everything at the same time to make every building as energy efficient as possible,” the Social Democrat (SPD) minister told a real estate industry conference. The government coalition – formed by the Social Democrats (SPD), the Green Party and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) – had agreed to tighten efficiency standards for all new buildings to EH40 from 2025. This means that their primary energy needs must not exceed 40 percent of those of a reference building. An EH55 standard (limiting energy use to  55 percent) already applies for new buildings. Additionally, the EU is working on a directive that would require the renovation of the most inefficient buildings across the bloc.

“If we want to raise the energy efficiency of individual buildings by several levels, then the entire stock has to be renovated - even in [rural areas such as] the Harz Mountains, the Sauerland or the Altmark. I don't see how that can be done, nor do I see how it can be financed,” Geywitz said. She instead wants to focus on lowering emissions in the construction process – for example by increasing the use of natural or recycled materials – and not the lifecycle of the buildings, according to Handelsblatt. Before introducing higher efficiency measures, a discussion at the federal government level was needed, she said, adding that she expected pushback from the Green Party.

The current quota to retrofit one percent of existing buildings in Germany is much too low to meet the sector’s emissions reduction targets, which could not be achieved by simply replacing fossil heating systems with renewables-based alternatives, according to an analysis conducted by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW).

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