Worker installs windows, symbolic of "Energy Efficiency Strategy for Buildings"

© Getty Images / Thomas Trutschel / Kontributor

Tailored modernisation roadmap

On 4 May 2017, Germany introduced a new tool for the energy-efficient retrofitting of buildings, a renovation road map tailored to individual buildings. This software-based tool is used by energy advisors on efficiency in buildings (in German) to give owners a clear overview of the modernisation work that their building needs. It points to untapped possibilities for energy conservation and the use of renewables, and also gives an estimate of the relevant investment costs and of the savings that could be achieved in terms of heating costs and carbon emissions.

The roadmap serves as a standardised tool and is now ready to be used in practice. It creates a uniform framework and comes with a user-friendly design and a great deal of extra information tailored to the needs of energy advisors and property owners. This makes it a highly valuable part of the energy advice on buildings (in German) programme funded by the German government.

Under the German government’s energy advice (in German) for residential buildings programme (on-site energy consultations with experts from the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA)), the tailored modernisation roadmap is an accepted outcome of energy consultations and also serves as proof that an energy consultation has taken place. The new tool has also become part of the German Energy Efficiency Strategy for Buildings.

Overall strategy for the buildings sector

The Federal Government wants to make Germany's building stock virtually climate-neutral by 2050. In order to achieve this goal, more of our heating needs to be supplied from renewable energy and we need to make our buildings more energy-efficient.

Our Energy Efficiency Strategy for Buildings sets out a comprehensive strategy for this sector. It brings together the three aspects of power, heat, and energy efficiency to form a clear policy framework for the energy transition in the buildings sector.

The principles set out in the Energy Efficiency Strategy for Buildings are part of the National Action Plan on Energy Efficiency (NAPE), which the Federal Government adopted on 3 December 2014.

For many years, Germany’s policy for the buildings sector has been underpinned by an approach that consists in providing information and support, demanding action, and promoting research. This successful approach is being continuously developed to form a holistic, long-term strategic framework that provides for clear guidance and benchmarks, including for individual owners.

A study commissioned by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (in German) and published in June 2017 puts the German Energy Efficiency Strategy for Buildings in a wider economic context. It compares the strategy’s impact in two different scenarios that were developed as part of the research work that has been done in connection with the Energy Efficiency Strategy for Buildings. The authors of the study recommend that an even greater focus be placed on energy efficiency improvements as implementation of the strategy progresses.

Flagship projects for the energy transition in the buildings sector

The energy transition in the buildings sector needs shining examples showing how we are already in a position to realise buildings and neighbourhoods which are compatible with our energy goals for 2050. For this reason, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is operating the EnEff.Gebäude.2050 funding initiative (in German) for flagship projects to show how concepts that are available but not yet established on the market can realise virtually climate-neutral buildings and neighbourhoods, and to encourage their wider introduction.

Systemic funding for innovation in the heating and cooling infrastructure

Since 1 July 2017, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy has been providing support for local and district heating systems based on renewable energy. For the first time under the pilot project for 4th generation heating systems (in German) (PDF, 554KB), funding will be available not just for individual technologies or components, but for innovative overall systems that rely on renewables for at least of 50% of the heat or cooling energy they deliver. The 4th generation heating systems can help significantly raise the share of renewables, make better use of waste heat, and allows for systems to be operated at lower temperatures compared to traditional heating systems. This helps minimise losses, enhances energy efficiency and promotes the use of renewable energy in local and district heating systems.

In a first step, funding will be provided for feasibility studies (for up to 60% of the cost). At a later stage, there will also be funding for a 4th generation heating networks system (30 to 50% of the cost of the project). Applications for funding can be submitted to the Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control (BAFA). For more information, please click here.

More investment needed

Through a combination of energy conservation and the use of renewable energy, the Federal Government aims to cut primary energy demand in the building stock by approx. 80% by 2050 (compared with 2008). The existing set of instruments is already reaching large numbers of building owners and landlords, and encouraging them to invest in energy conservation in their buildings. In order to meet the ambitious goals set out as part of the energy concept in the buildings sector by 2050, additional investment is needed to make homes more energy efficient and use more renewable energy for heating. To achieve this, the Energy Efficiency Strategy for Buildings lays down key principles, such as giving people advice on energy, the continued development of energy conservation legislation, customised renovation roadmaps for individual buildings, the placing of the CO2 Building Renovation Programme on a permanent footing with increased funding (KfW funding programmes for energy-efficient building and renovation) and the further development of the market incentive programme to use renewable energy sources in the heating and cooling market (in German).

Devising strategies in dialogue

The Energy Transition Buildings Platform was set up in July 2014 to discuss and improve the necessary recommendations for action and proposed measures on the basis of the principles that had been adopted in a dialogue with the relevant stakeholders.