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.

4th session of the Energy Transition Buildings Platform

The 4th session of the Energy Transition Buildings Platform took place on 9 December 2015 and was co-chaired by Directors-General Herdan (Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy) and Hoffmann (Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety). The talks mainly focused on the Energy Efficiency Strategy for Buildings, which was adopted by the Federal Cabinet on 18 November 2015, and the study on which the strategy is based. According to the strategy, it is possible to attain the Federal Government’s target of a virtually climate-neutral building stock by 2050, but only if a comprehensive catalogue of measures is deployed. In addition to the further development and enhanced dovetailing of existing measures, mention was made not least of the forthcoming revision and merging of the Energy Conservation Act, Energy Conservation Ordinance and Renewable Energy Heat Act, the renovation roadmaps for specific buildings and the Energy Efficiency Incentive Programme.

The Federal Environment Ministry presented the 2015 Climate Action Report, which was also adopted by the Federal Cabinet on 18 November 2015. The Climate-friendly Building and Housing strategy combines energy efficiency with other measures to tackle global warming. The Building Cost Reduction Commission’s report was also presented. The Environment Ministry’s housing construction campaign and its 10-point plan aims to counteract price rises and create affordable housing.

5th session of the Energy Transition Buildings Platform

Just over half a year after the adoption of the Energy Efficiency Strategy for Buildings, the fifth plenary session of the Energy Transition Buildings Platform was held on 17 June 2016. Co-chaired by Director-General Herdan (Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy) and Deputy Director-General Fehn Krestas (Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety), the meeting discussed current building-related issues. Topics included the presentation of the "Deutschland macht's effizient" (in german) efficiency campaign, the implementation of the National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency and the Energy Efficiency Strategy for Buildings, and the implementation and further development of efficiency measures. Discussions also focused on the forthcoming revision and merging of the Energy Conservation Act, Energy Conservation Ordinance and Renewable Energy Heat Act to form a “Buildings Energy Act”.
The Environment Ministry also presented the ideas-generating competition to make people enthusiastic about climate-friendly building.

The working groups generally take place in tandem with the Energy Efficiency Platform.

6th session of the Energy Transition Buildings Platform

The 6th session of the Energy Transition Buildings Platform was held on 24 January 2017. The session was co-chaired by Directors-General Herdan (Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy) and Thomas (Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety). The discussions were dominated by the revision of legislation on energy conservation in buildings (Buildings Energy Act). Prior to this, a report was given about numerous activities by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy in the field of buildings. The meeting also looked at the heating optimisation programme, the EnEff.Gebäude.2050 energy efficiency funding programme for buildings, the Global Alliance for Building & Construction, the Energy Efficiency Green Paper and the research network on energy in buildings and neighbourhoods. The Federal Environment Ministry presented the 2050 Climate Action Plan (in german), which was also adopted by the Federal Cabinet on 14 November 2016, particularly focusing on the parts relating to buildings. The Plan flags up the basic principles for the implementation of Germany’s long-term climate strategy.

Working Groups

"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.

At its second meeting on 20 January 2016, the participants continued the debate on quality. The focus was on establishing quality standards for energy consultants eligible for funding. The participants welcomed the development and testing of a review scheme and provided suggestions and ideas from their particular fields of expertise.

Also, results from studies to assess energy consulting and energy-related retrofitting were considered from the home-owner’s perspective. The focus here was on aspects of how various groups of owners are motivated, obtain information and go about the work, and how satisfied they are with the results. In this context, the ongoing market study into energy audits, energy services and other energy efficiency measures was presented; its findings can be downloaded (in German) here.

The energy efficiency communication and activation strategy of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy was presented. It is an important new project aiming to improve the communication and awareness-raising of energy efficiency issues, and is scheduled to start in April 2016. This campaign is intended to make the issue of energy efficiency much more emotional and to directly target private households, companies and municipalities. The campaign consists of an overall campaign with posters, cinema ads, etc., and several specific campaigns targeted at certain groups, and systematically engages with relevant stakeholders. The participants have been invited to submit suggestions and ideas and to actively engage in the stakeholder process.

"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.

The second session of the working group on 16 June 2015 built on this diagnosis and looked at solutions from private-sector lenders and public institutions like the European Investment Bank. In this context, the Investor Confidence Project Europe was presented; it aims to establish investment in energy efficiency as a specific investment category. In the light of these ideas, and as a result of the discussion of a draft working paper, the working group agreed to focus on the issues of project pooling, risk assumption and balance sheet neutral financing. It was also decided to hold a specific event on energy efficiency cooperatives.

In preparation for the third meeting of the working group, several members of the group drew up working papers on combining projects, risk assumption, and balance-sheet-neutral financing, with support from the Energy Efficiency Platform’s Office. At the meeting on 2 October 2015, the situation and recommendations described in the working papers were presented and discussed. Also, the current status of the standardisation work of the Investor Confidence Project Europe was presented. For 2016, the working group agreed on a number of activities to implement the aspects discussed.

The public event on “Energy efficiency cooperatives – financing energy efficiency investments from the public?” was held in Berlin on 6 October 2015. The 50 participants heard seven presentations and on this basis discussed the extent to which cooperation between citizens’ energy cooperatives and municipalities offers potential for greater energy efficiency, and how more use can be made of this potential. It became clear that energy cooperatives can relieve the financial and human resources burden on municipalities in the efforts to improve energy performance, and can foster local added value and public participation. However, it was also found that only a few cooperatives are currently active in this new field of business, and that there is therefore a lack of trust and practical experience. Various questions were identified with regard to the future development of this innovative financing concept. Building on this, possible next steps to support the market development of energy efficiency cooperatives are being examined.

"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.

Both sub-working groups reconvened on 15 June 2015. The sub-working group on contracting discussed drafts of working papers on the following issues: de minimis, budgetary and procurement law, and the Heat Supply Ordinance. The Economic Affairs Ministry also presented the status of the revision of procurement law in the light of EU directives, and the AGFW (association for energy efficiency in heating, cooling and CHP) reported on the status of the work of the associations’ own working group on “Standard Values” in the context of the Heat Supply Ordinance. The sub-working group on energy conservation law used presentations by the Federal Environment Agency, co2online and the OMS Group to consider the “further development of the rules on billing/consumption information in heating bills” and “the use of smart metering and consumption registration systems for heating and hot water”.

The third meeting of the two subworking groups took place on 5 October 2015. The Contracting Subworking Group discussed the extended drafts of the three working papers and agreed on final drafting in the ensuing weeks. Further to this, the provisional results of the study by the associations on “Standard Values” were presented by the AGFW; this proposes an improved procedure. The subworking group on energy conservation law discussed the need to adapt the energy-profile ID card for buildings, and practical ways to do so, taking into consideration a working paper from dena and a presentation by DEN e.V.

“Competitive Auctions” Working Group

The working group on the competitive auctioning model is monitoring the introduction of this new instrument in the field of efficiency. From March 2015, the concept of competitive funding was presented by the Economic Affairs Ministry at several meetings, and questions relating to an efficient and effective approach were discussed with the participants. In addition to this, workshops were held on various detailed issues, at which business representatives and other stakeholders discussed specific technical aspects. At the last meeting of the working group on 18 January 2016, the focus was on communicating and promoting the funding programme. The meeting on 1 June 2016 discussed questions relating to the launch of the programme.

The first bidding round started on 1 June. Information about the programme can be found at www.stepup-energieeffizienz.de.

“Systemic Issues” Working Group

The “Systemic Issues” Working Group aims in particular to investigate the relationship between energy efficiency policies and other aspects of the energy transition. The working group commenced its work on 9 October 2015, chaired by Director-General Herdan of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The main issues were sector coupling and questions of electricity efficiency. prognos, ifeu and Fraunhofer ISI, Agora Energiewende and dena presented their views and experience. The following intensive discussion involving the approx. 50 participants highlighted the diversity and relevance of the issue. In the afternoon, further possible topics for the next sessions of the working group were collected and discussed.

“Funding Programmes” Working Group

The “Funding Programmes” Working Group mainly presents changes to the “Market Incentive Programme to promote renewable energy on the heat market” and the KfW funding programmes for energy-efficient construction and refurbishment set up under the CO2 building renovation programme.

The working group commenced its work on 10 September 2014. At its first meeting, proposals by various associations were discussed in response to the questionnaire from the Buildings Platform on the future development of the aforementioned programmes. Also, the associations had the opportunity to ask questions about the programmes. The Federal Government’s plans for the future of the MAP and CO2 building renovation programme met with broad approval.

The second meeting of the platform took place on 2 March 2015. The subject of this meeting was the forthcoming revision of the MAP. In the National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency, the revision of the funding programme had been scheduled for spring 2015, and the new version of the Market Incentive Programme entered into force on 1 April 2015. The main thrust of the revision and the key changes to the programme were presented at the meeting of the Funding Programmes Working Group. The associations welcomed the revised and improved funding conditions and the new approaches to funding.

At the third meeting of the Funding Programmes Working Group on 7 January 2016, the new Energy Efficiency Incentive programme (APEE) was presented, under which funding will be provided for the modernisation of heating and ventilation systems in the home. The meeting focused on the implementation of the programme, which was launched on 1 January 2016, and its integration into the existing funding systems of the CO2 building renovation programme and the MAP. All of the responses from the associations were positive. They particularly liked the focus of the programme on the issues of holistic heating optimisation and ventilation systems (e.g. to improve ambient indoor climate and avoid damage to buildings) and the lean administration of the new funding programme via the existing funding programmes.