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17 Aug 2023, 14:25
Carolina Kyllmann

Germany’s efficiency standards for new builds 'fatal' for affordable housing, renovations key – industry

Clean Energy Wire

Germany’s “excessive” energy efficiency standards for new buildings make the construction of new homes too expensive, proving fatal for people who need affordable housing and stalling construction rates, industry association German Building Materials Trade (BDB) warned in a press release. “The bar for energy saving in new construction is far too high,” BDB head Katharina Metzger said. “Green wishful thinking is choking off the construction of new flats.” To save energy, a more effective measure would be for the government to focus on the energy efficient renovation of old buildings, the association said. Currently, an EH55 standard limiting energy use to 55 percent compared to a reference building applies for new buildings, but an efficiency standard of EH70 would be enough, BDB wrote. "We have an extreme housing shortage," Metzger said and added that "we must now focus on quantity in decent quality: Everything we build [...] in the Efficient House Standard 70 is better than 98 percent of the building stock we currently have in Germany."

Separately, NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH) also called for the government to focus on the energy efficient renovation of buildings to reduce carbon emissions in the sector, especially in relation to 'arbitrary' demolitions. The government should introduce a demolition permit requirement that accounts for climate and resource protection, the NGO said as, based on their calculations, renovating existing buildings could avoid one third of the emissions of a new construction. “In view of the missed climate targets in the building sector, it is downright negligent to continue with the arbitrary demolition mania in Germany,” DUH head Barbara Metz said.

Germany’s building sector has repeatedly failed to meet its emission reduction targets, and the current quota to retrofit one percent of existing buildings in Germany is much too low to meet them in future, as these cannot be achieved simply by replacing fossil heating systems with renewables-based alternatives, according to an analysis conducted by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW). Renovating the most energy-inefficient homes could shield those most prone to energy poverty, but associations have in the past warned that energy efficiency rules could also raise financial burdens for Germany’s tenants. While the majority of households are in favour of energy-efficiency renovations, inflation and a shortage of workers stand in the way, a January report found.

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