Roof top with solar panels symbolizes the buildings platform; Source: iStock.com/zstockphotos

© iStock.com/zstockphotos

A central aim of the Federal Government is to ensure that Germany's building stock is virtually climate neutral by 2050. By as early as 2020, renewables should account for 14 per cent of final energy consumption for heating and cooling. In order to achieve this objective, the renovation rate will need to be doubled.

The Buildings Platform, which held its inaugural meeting on 3 July 2014, has been established against the background of these ambitious targets. The diverse potential of the buildings sector for the energy transition is to be enhanced, challenges overcome and appropriate measures developed in consultation with actors from the property business, crafts and trades organisations, industry, consumer groups and the public sector. The aim is to draw up a comprehensive energy efficiency strategy for buildings.

The key points of this strategy form an integral part of the National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency (NAPE), which was adopted by the Federal Government on 3 December 2014. The focus of the Action Plan is not merely on the energy-efficient upgrade of buildings but rather on considering how buildings or urban spaces can be used to best effect.

Plenary

The plenary session of the Buildings Platform brings together the relevant stakeholders from commerce, civil society, academia and the appropriate government ministries. In view of the many substantive links to the responsibilities of the Building Ministry, the plenary session is co-chaired by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety. This is where the buildings-related findings and updates from the working groups of the two Energy Transition Platforms on "Efficiency" and "Buildings" are discussed. Parallel talks take place with the Länder.

1st session of the Energy Transition Buildings Platform

The inaugural meeting of the Energy Transition Buildings Platform took place in the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy on 3 July 2014. Chaired by Director-General Herdan, Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the concept of an Energy Efficiency Strategy for Buildings was presented as a holistic strategy. It is to be drawn up by the end of 2015 in the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy with input from the relevant stakeholders. The strategy aims to show a path to a virtually climate-neutral building stock by 2050. Following the event, the participants and all the interested stakeholders had the opportunity to send in proposals for measures which might make a sensible contribution towards the strategy.

The 250-plus proposals received were assessed, and some have since been included in the National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency (NAPE), which was published in December 2014 and includes the key principles of the Energy Efficiency Strategy for Buildings.

2nd session of the Energy Transition Buildings Platform

The second session of the platform took place on 8 October 2014. Following the opening event of the Energy Transition Buildings Platform, the stakeholders submitted more than 250 proposals for ways to achieve the goal of a virtually climate-neutral building stock. Together with scientific experts, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy evaluated these proposals and calculated the respective contribution towards energy conservation by the relevant measures. These quantifications were presented at the meeting by the consortium of scientists.
Furthermore, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety reported about the coordination of the various activities, and particularly the National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency (Economic Affairs Ministry) and the 2020 Climate Action Plan (Environment Ministry). The two initiatives were subsequently adopted by the Federal Cabinet on 3 December 2014.

3rd session of the Energy Transition Buildings Platform

The 3rd session of the Energy Transition Buildings Platform was held on 5 March 2015. Co-chairs Herdan (Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy ) and Hofmann (Environment Ministry) presented the developments since the last session in October 2014. Working groups have been designed in the framework of the Energy Transition "Efficiency" and "Building" Platforms so that a small group of experts in the field can discuss selected issues in greater depth. The findings and status of their work are discussed in the plenary sessions of the platforms.
The Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety presented the Alliance for Affordable Housing and Building, which is working on ways to meet the rising demand for housing in certain regions. Attention must be paid to social, demographic and energy-related requirements. Here again, appropriate working groups have been established.

Further to this, experts from various divisions of the ministries presented the work being done in the fields of energy conservation legislation, the research network for energy in buildings and neighbourhoods, the renewable energy Market Incentive Programme (MAP), the CO2 building renovation programme, energy advice, tailored renovation roadmaps for specific buildings, and the heating check.

"Advice and Information" Working Group

The "Advice and Information" Working Group aims to discuss projects such as energy advice for municipalities, quality standards to be met by energy advisors, and the development of tailored renovation roadmaps for specific buildings. The group held its first meeting on 31 March 2015. The focus was on quality and independence of energy advice and the further development of specific advisory services for households, companies and municipalities.

"Innovative Financing Concepts" Working Group

The participants in the "Innovative financing concepts" Working Group discuss the need for additional financial instruments (e.g. cooperatives, bonds, credit-market-based approaches) for investment in energy efficiency, and draft specific recommendations for action. The Working Group first met on 18 March 2015 and focused on aspects like the effects of existing financial instruments and the main challenges facing efforts to stimulate even more investment in energy efficiency. The participants agreed that there is no general shortage of capital at present. Rather, there is a need for new ways to bring energy efficiency projects and providers of capital together. Corresponding proposals are to be drafted by the next session in June.

"Legal Framework for Energy Efficiency Services" Working Group

The legal framework for energy efficiency services is being studied in the "Legal framework for energy efficiency services" Working Group with a view to reducing barriers. The work of this Working Group is focused e.g. on the rules governing contracting and energy conservation in buildings. The group began its work on 24 March 2015. Key issues included the energy-profile ID card for buildings, information for users about heat consumption and costs in buildings, and improving the legal framework for contracting. The participants decided to form sub-working groups on energy conservation law and contracting, to draft working papers on certain subjects, and to reconvene in June.

"Energy Efficiency Strategy for Buildings" Working Group

Working from the 2014 renovation roadmap "Need for renovation in the building stock" and the key elements of the NAPE, the Energy Efficiency Strategy for Buildings is being drawn up in 2015. All stakeholders are given an opportunity to participate, particularly in the Energy Transition Buildings Platform. A consortium of experts has been formed to provide scientific evaluations of the strategy’s instruments and to estimate the contributions towards the attainment of the goal. It is currently calculating the possible ways to reach a virtually climate-neutral building stock. They will probably consist of a combination of savings in final energy consumption and the substitution of fossil fuel by renewable energy in the heating/cooling sector. Not least, the focus is on the technical, economic and social restrictions of the various paths towards the target. The Working Group plans to discuss the findings of the experts and the conclusions for the strategy.

"Funding Programmes" Working Group

The "Funding Programmes" Working Group mainly aims to present changes to the "Market Incentive Programme to promote renewable energy on the heat market" and the KfW funding programmes for energy-efficient building and renovation set up under the CO2 building renovation programme. The next focus of the Working Group will be on presenting the funding available from the Energy Efficiency Incentive Programme in the late summer of 2015. The Working Group particularly aims to foster awareness of the funding available under these programmes amongst the relevant stakeholders.