German housing association criticizes new climate requirements for residential buildings
Climate-neutrality in the residential building sector cannot be achieved with ever-more efficiency and insulation requirements, especially if real estate prices are to remain affordable, says the Federal Association of German Housing and Real Estate Companies (GdW), Die Welt reports. According to industry representatives, when it comes to climate protection requirements for residential buildings, Germany is heading into a dead end, both financially and technologically. While the demands are constantly increasing for thermal insulation, control systems and renewable energy sources, construction and material costs continue to rise and the state has made hardly any additional funds available to support owners, landlords, tenants and housing companies. At its annual press conference, GdW President Axel Gedaschko said the government’s fixation on more efficiency had practically failed. "To believe that we can resolve the climate issue by ever higher energy standards is a mistake," he said. "The climate investments of the past 30 years had an effect in the first 20 years, but have not allowed energy consumption to fall any further since 2010," he added. Indeed, the building sector is the only one in which emission reduction targets were not met in 2020. One reason is a rebound effect: if a building is better insulated, the heating can be turned up without incurring higher heating costs. Another reason is that many buildings have already been at least partially renovated and insulated, and further renovations are too costly and make little economic sense, according to the GdW. The need for affordable housing cannot be met with ever higher efficiency standards, the GdW argues. "We want affordable housing and more rent regulation, but at the same time ever more expensive climate protection investments. That doesn't go together," Gedaschko says. He further argues that Germany does not have the capacity for the 'renovation wave' that is expected. "The German hope that we can get a lot of craftsmen from abroad is a delusion," he says.
The new emergency climate programme, presented on 23 June, has set additional energy efficiency requirements and the major parties’ election programmes all call for more insulation, new heating and rooftop photovoltaics. The goverment aims to spend 4.5 billion euros in 2022 and 2023 on efficiency in the building sector.