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Sustainable building: How does the DGNB certification system work?

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DGNB: Mission, members, and challenges

The DGNB was founded by various representatives from the real estate and construction industries. The association has existed since 2007, and the composition of its members includes all sectors of the construction and real estate industry, for example architects, banks, but also building material manufacturers as well as large companies such as Audi, BASF or the Rewe Group, to name a few. The essential aim of the society is to promote the planning, implementation and operation of sustainable buildings. This is achieved by promoting the exchange of information, experience and expertise on the subject and by training auditors who check compliance with the criteria for a DGNB certificate and issue DGNB certifications. According to its own statutes, the association serves the public and supports science and research in relation to sustainability. It also offers solutions to challenges of ecological, climate-friendly building, for example in the design of office and administrative areas, in retail, and in patient and medical areas.

Overview of the certification system

The certificates for sustainable building awarded by the DGNB are divided into different categories based on quality. Whether a DGNB certificate is awarded in gold, silver, platinum or bronze is determined in advance by the client in cooperation with the certification body. The certification focuses on a whole series of assessment categories based on three pillars: life cycle assessment, holistic approach and performance orientation.

Obtaining a certificate from the DGNB increases market opportunities when selling or renting

1. Life cycle assessment

A building goes through different phases with different requirements. Sustainable construction makes it possible to consider these phases of the building life cycle with sustainability aspects in mind. The phases of the life cycle include planning, construction, operation, existence and the end of life of the building.

2. Holistic approach

In contrast to other certification systems for sustainable building, the DGNB system focuses on a holistic and international approach. It can be adapted to legal, cultural as well as structural and climatic characteristics of other countries and thus creates the conditions for international certification.

3. Performance orientation

DGNB certification evaluates the overall performance of a building, not just individual measures. The evaluation of the overall performance is independent of the context. If the performance criteria are met, the DGNB certificate is awarded in silver, gold, platinum or bronze.

Systematic approach to sustainability: Gold certification

Buildings that receive a DGNB Gold certificate must meet 65 % of the specified sustainability criteria overall. For the evaluation of the overall performance of sustainable construction, the criteria are applied to various building types such as new buildings, existing properties, renovations, buildings in operation as well as neighbourhoods, interiors and demolition. The assessment categories are ecology, economy, social and functional aspects, as well as technology, location and processes. Overall, the evaluation is based on 37 certification criteria assigned to these categories. The new RIVA LIVING BERLIN project achieved this status and was awarded the DGNB Gold certificate. The project combines comfort, an appealing maritime design and waterfront living with a high level of sustainability thanks to modern, advanced smart home systems.


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Written by:

Stefanie Aust, Guest Writer

Stefanie loves to put complex topics from the real estate world into understandable and inspiring words. Whether it's about the right financing, choosing the right type of flat, or a successful property search: Stefanie is happy to inform you.

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