21 Jul 2021, 13:24
Charlotte Nijhuis

Increase in living space stumbling block for climate-friendly housing sector

Clean Energy Wire

The living space per capita in Germany has grown significantly in recent years which has increased emissions in the housing sector, according to a new report by the DZ Bank. This, and the fact that many buildings are in need of renovation, causes a stumbling block on the road to making the sector climate-friendly. While the average living space was around 36 square metres in 1995, it was 47 square metres per person by the end of 2020, according to the Federal Statistical Office. Most households, particularly those in older buildings, use oil and gas for heating. The report authors argue that a trend reversal is not in sight: "The growing number of single-person households and the pandemic-induced desire for spacious flats – also with a view to be used as home offices – are likely to continue to drive the growth in space." In light of rising rents, DZ Bank says the pace of renovation must increase without overburdening tenants and owners. Better efficiency and coordination of measures are needed to achieve the balancing act between climate protection and affordable housing, the authors write.

The building sector is responsible for 14 percent of Germany’s total emissions. It is the only sector where the 2020 emission reduction target was not reached. If the country wants to reach its target of a close to climate-neutral building stock by 2050, also "practically all" of its three million non-residential buildings will need to be renovated, according to a KfW research paper released last year. Earlier this month, the German Building Alliance presented a five-point plan detailing how climate protection targets in the building sector could be achieved.

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