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16 Dec 2020, 15:32
Charlotte Nijhuis

German trade union urges 'climate check' to improve efficiency of public buildings

Clean Energy Wire

In order to reduce emissions in the building sector, the German trade union IG BAU is calling on the federal, state and local governments to do more for the energy refurbishment of public buildings. "Many schools, offices and town halls were built in the 1970s and 1980s and have a catastrophic CO2 balance by today's standards. If the public sector does not invest significantly more in energy refurbishment, state buildings will fall far short of climate targets," said Robert Feiger, head of IG BAU. The union proposes that the country's 186,000 public buildings be subjected to a so-called ‘climate check’. States and municipalities should draw up renovation roadmaps for their own buildings and give priority to refurbishing those with the poorest energy balance, the union said. In the first nine months of this year, only 105 energy-efficient renovations were carried out in the municipal and social segment, with a cost of 109 million euros, compared to 15,000 projects with a total cost of 1.8 billion euros for energy-related renovation measures in private households. Union chief Feiger called for a 'renovation boost' by the state industry and society. “If we don't make rapid progress with energy-related renovations, the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius will move further and further away," Feiger said.

The building sector is responsible for 14 percent of Germany’s total emissions. If the country wants to reach its target of a close to climate-neutral building stock by 2050, "practically all" of its three-million non-residential buildings will have to be renovated, according to a KfW research paper released last year. Support for energy-efficient retrofitting is one of several measures adopted by the government in its Climate Action Programme to improve the building sector's emissions record, which also includes the introduction of a pricing scheme for carbon emissions in the transport and heating sector taking effect in 2021.  

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