DGNB Criteria

The DGNB focusses on buildings’ or districts’ overall performance rather than individual measures.

Buildings’ overall performance in terms of sustainability is assessed on the basis of around 40 different criteria, e.g. thermal comfort, design for all and sound insulation. The DGNB schemes for districts include a separate criteria set which addresses issues such as changing urban microclimate, biodiversity and interlinking habitats, and the social and functional mix.

Projects achieve a certificate/pre-certificate in platinum, gold or silver depending on the degree to which the relevant scheme criteria are met.

The DGNB system comprises a variety of certification schemes for different building uses. All international applications of the DGNB system for buildings are based on the core criteria catalogue, referred to as CORE14. These core criteria are used in combination with scheme sheets which provide detailed information for the relevant scheme in question.

Environmental Quality more

ENV1.1 Life Cycle Impact Assessment

Buildings generate emissions in all phases of their life cycle, from manufacture through use up to their end of life. These emissions travel into the air, the water, and the soil where they cause a range of environmental issues. These include global warming, depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer, summer smog, dying forest trees and fresh water fish, and the eutrophication of water and soils. The objective is therefore to reduce buildings’ emissions throughout their entire life cycle as much as possible.


  1. Climate change: Global Warming Potential (GWP)
  2. Depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer: Ozone Depletion Potential (ODP)
  3. Summer smog: Photochemical Ozone Creation Potential (POCP)
  4. Dying forests and fresh water fish: Acid Potential (AP)
  5. Eutrophication: Eutrophication Potential (EP)
ENV1.2 Local Environment Impact

Certain materials, products and methods are hazardous to soil, air, ground, and surface water as well as the health of humans, flora, and fauna. The use of materials, products, and methods which endanger the soil, air, ground, and surface water due to their chemical composition or physical characteristics must be reduced or avoided, or these must be substituted in order to reduce risks to humans and to the local environment to a minimum. This applies particularly to those materials, products, and methods which cause short, medium and/or long-term damage to risks to soil, air, ground, and surface water as well as the health of humans, flora, and fauna. This includes a consideration of their entire life cycle including manufacture and processing on the building site, use in the building, and their end-of-life including demolition, recycling, and disposal. Risks to the local environment are considered in relation to materials and products used. At present, there are no established methods to capture and evaluate toxicity to humans and the environment.


  1. Local environmental impact
ENV1.3 Responsible Procurement

This criterion supports the use of materials sourced and finished in accordance with recognised social and environmental standards. Its objective is to protect forests, exclude child labour, and maintain social and environmental standards in quarrying natural stone. The use of certified timber and timber based materials supports sustainable forestry and the preservation of existing forests. Compliance with recognised standards in natural stone treatment improves working conditions in quarries and in finishing in developing and emerging economies.


  1. Procurement of timber and timber-based materials
  2. Procurement of natural stone
ENV2.1 Life Cycle Impact Assessment - Primary Energy

The criterion evaluates the complete primary energy requirement of a building. Here particular value is placed on the reduction of the overall consumption of primary energy and the maximisation of the use of renewable energies. Here the objective is over fulfilment of the legal regulations to the benefit of global protection of the climate and resources.


  1. Non-renewable primary energy demand (PEnren)
  2. Total primary energy demand (PEtot)
  3. Proportion of renewable primary energy
ENV2.2 Drinking Water Demand and Waste Water Volume

Water is extracted from natural circuits on a daily basis and processed at length in order to obtain high-quality drinking water. The corresponding waste water must subsequently be treated so that harmful substances and contaminants are removed before it is returned to the natural water circuit. The aim is therefore to disturb the natural water circuit as little as possible by reducing the demand for drinking water and the volume of waste water.


  1. Drinking Water Demand and Waste Water Volume
ENV2.3 Land Use

This criterion evaluates the building‘s space consumption. Its aim is to reduce the space consumed by settlement and highway infrastructure and to prevent further greenfield sprawl. This is aimed at reducing the proportion of the earth‘s surfaces that is sealed and made impermeable, thereby preventing rainwater infiltration (e.g. through asphalt and concrete surfacing). Existing sealed areas should be replaced by permeable surfacing inasmuch as possible.  Maximum use should be made of sites already prepared for development.  


  1. Land use

Economic Quality more

ECO1.1 Life Cycle Cost

Costs arise throughout a building’s life cycle: from construction, through operation and maintenance, to demolition. From an economic perspective, the aim is to reduce the building’s total life cycle costs (LCC) to a minimum.

The objective of the LCC analysis in certification is to facilitate a comparison between different buildings with the same use. This requires clear rules for identifying and documenting building costs as well as comparable benchmarks for their evaluation. These rules create clear parameters which allow evaluations of different buildings with the same use to be compared.

In order to focus on construction-based LCC, the evaluation is based on certain key costs categories which are calculated for a pre-defined study period.

Additional Explanation
Design and construction processes often focus on reducing initial construction cost. Costs incurred throughout the building’s entire life cycle, such as the follow-up costs during its use, are often neglected.

As part of a holistic approach to LCC, the analysis should be based on a defined scope and time period. Thus decisions about the design and the construction decisions can be taken with a long term view, taking into account selected costs in use, weighted for the individual use phases.

1.    Life cycle cost

ECO2.1 Flexibility and adaptability

The ease with which a building can be adapted to changing requirements helps raise user satisfaction; it can prolong the building’s service life and lower costs incurred throughout its life cycle. Flexibility and adaptability reduce the risk of vacancy and can contribute to buildings long-term economic success.
Hence this criterion is aimed at making the building’s design as flexible as possible and creating the greatest possible potential for reuse.

Additional Explanation
Technical and social developments impact on the built environment for work, housing and leisure. This requires highly efficient, flexible and adaptable buildings. The need for adaptation may arise from changes within the building use, or by conversion to a different use (e.g. by a new tenant).

In economic terms, the evaluation of the building’s space efficiency is based on the proportion of usable and rentable space in relation to the total area of the building.

This criterion is closely related to TEC1.4, which is focussed on the adaptability of technical systems.

1.    Space efficiency
2.    Ceiling height
3.    Depth of floor plan
4.    Vertical Access
5.    Floor layout
6.    Structure
7.    Building services

ECO2.2 Commercial Viability

The economy is one of the three pillars of sustainability. It comprises all of the facilities and processes which address our needs, whether by producing and distributing goods or by providing services. This includes buildings: depending on their use, they serve to house people or provide space for work, shopping, and leisure etc. Unused buildings represent a misallocation of economic resources, and medium or long-term building vacancies are not sustainable. Thus the aim of this criterion is to assess whether a building has the potential to respond to medium and long-term user demand in the relevant market.


  1. Location and image
  2. Access and parking
  3. Characteristics of the market

Sociocultural and Functional Quality more

SOC1.1 Thermal Comfort

Thermal comfort in buildings makes an important contribution to an efficient and performance-enhancing working and living environment. A room is deemed to be thermally comfortable if it is neither too cold nor too warm, the air neither too dry nor too moist, and there is no draught.


  1. Operative temperature / heating period
  2. Drafts / heating period
  3. Radiant temperature asymmetry and floor temperature / heating period
  4. Relative humidity / heating period
  5. Operative temperature / cooling period
  6. Drafts / cooling period
  7. Radiant temperature asymmetry and floor temperature / cooling period
  8. Relative humidity / cooling period
SOC1.2 Indoor Air Quality

The aim of the criterion is to ensure that indoor air is of sufficient quality not to adversely affect users’ health and well-being. To this end, it is particularly important to establish hygiene, to reduce the concentration of harmful substances, and to prevent unpleasant smells.

TVOC concentrations exceeding 3.000 µg/m³, formaldehyde concentrations exceeding 120 µg/m³, or the transgression of Guide value 2 (defined by the German Environment Ministry’ Ad-hoc Working Group for Indoor Air Guide Values) endanger hygiene of rooms in dwellings, offices or teaching rooms used by the same persons for several hours.  For this reason, buildings with these high pollution levels are excluded from certification.

In rooms where occupants stay only for few hours and change on a continuous basis (e.g. sales rooms, film screening rooms) , appropriate methods must be applied to reduce the above mentioned danger to hygiene to the lowest possible level. Buildings presenting an identifiable risk to health must be excluded from certification. Rooms where surrounding building components present only a limited threat and rooms which are not used on a continuous basis (e.g. large sheds or warehouses) present a limited risk to health. The objective is for building materials and methods in rooms of this type to present only limited pollution levels.


  1. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)
  2. Occupancy-based ventilation rates
SOC1.3 Acoustic Comfort

Good acoustic conditions are an important requirement for the performance and comfort of the users. The objective of the criterion is thus to achieve room acoustic conditions which are appropriate for the intended use and which guarantee a sufficient level of user comfort.


  1. Individual offices and multi-person offices with areas up to 40 m²
  2. Multiple occupation offices
  3. Rooms for "Speech"(Conference rooms)
  4. Cafeterias with an area of > 50 m²
SOC1.4 Visual Comfort

User satisfaction is closely linked to the user's sense of comfort. The supply of daylight to the interior plays a particularly significant role here. Natural light has a positive effect on people's physical and mental health. For this reason, it is necessary to ensure an adequate and uninterrupted supply of daylight and artificial light in all interior areas in constant use.


  1. Availability of daylight throughout the building
  2. Availability of daylight in working areas for regular use
  3. View to the outside
  4. Preventing glare in daylight
  5. Preventing glare in artificial light
  6. Colour rendering
SOC1.5 User Control

Both the building’s energy consumption and the productivity of people working in it are closely linked to user‘s options to control the indoor climate. Thermal comfort, indoor air quality, noise levels and lighting are important factors contributing to user satisfaction. This criterion aims to provide occupants with the best possible options to control ventilation, to protect themselves from excessive sunlight and glare, to control the temperature (both during and outside the heating period), and to control daylight and artificial lighting.

This criterion takes the following aspects into account:

  • ventilation
  • temperatures
  • daylight and artificial light
  • ease of use

Measures which allow occupants to exert the greatest possible influence on the indoor climate increase comfort in office and residential buildings. In turn, improved comfort contributes to greater satisfaction and productivity. A positive evaluation is given to integrating measures of this kind at an early stage in the design process.


  1. Ventilation
  2. Shading
  3. Glare protection
  4. Influence on temperature during the heating period
  5. Influence on temperature outside the heating period
  6. Control of daylight and artificial light
  7. Ease of use
SOC1.6 Quality of outdoor spaces

External recreational areas close to the building enhance the general well-being of the user, provide alternative working and rest areas, encourage interaction between the users and increase the general acceptance of the structure. The external areas can also contribute to improving the urban image and the microclimate if designed accordingly.

The aim is to provide the largest possible number of users with the widest possible range of recreational opportunities with a high level of features.


  1. Quantitative evaluation of outdoor spaces
  2. Qualitative evaluation of outdoor spaces
SOC1.7 Safety and Security

A high sense of security makes a vital contribution to people's comfort. By contrast, uncertainty and anxiety restrict freedom of movement. Measures which increase the sense of security are generally also suitable for reducing the danger of attack by other people.

The aim is to prevent dangerous situations as much as possible and to limit the impact of potential natural disasters as much as possible.


  1. Subjective perception of safety and protection against assault 
  2. Reduction of damage should an accident occur 
SOC2.1 Design for All

The greatest possible level of accessibility to both the inner area and the associated external areas adds toa building’s utility. Design for all is a significant component of a pioneering and sustainable development in construction.

The aim is to make the complete built environment available to every person without obstacle and in principle without external assistance. This makes it possible for disabled people to lead independent lives and to participate fully in all aspects of life.


  1. Design for all
SOC2.2 Public Access

Buildings which offer good public access and a wide range of uses integrate better into the urban context and are more likely to meet with public approval.

Public access encourages communication and gives something back to the wider community. A wide range of uses enlivens the public area and supports a vibrant community as well as contributing to public approval for the building and integrating the building and its associated open spaces into the urban fabric. At the same time these factors increase users’ sense of security and contribute to the economic sustainability of the building.


  1. General public access to the building
  2. External facilities open to the public
  3. Interior facilities, such as libraries or cafeterias, open to the public
  4. Possibility for third parties to rent rooms in the building
  5. Variety of uses for public areas
SOC2.3 Cyclist Facilities

Cycling is a significant component of environmentally friendly personal transport. The aim is thus to encourage and support the use of bicycles. An important pre-requisite for this is an adequate number of bicycle parking areas of suitable quality on the premises. This increases the level of user acceptance and prevents uncontrolled parking of the bicycles in the public area.


  1. Number and quality of the parking facilities
  2. Facilities for cyclists
SOC3.1 Design and Urban Quality

Competitions are a tried and tested method for the procurement of design services. Competitive processes help identify and achieve the best possible solution for the architectural and structural challenges of the project brief. In addition to this, competitions also contribute to a rich and diverse building culture.

Generally, buildings do not stand alone, but are set within a built context of surrounding buildings. The built environment defines the public realm and sets the scene for important parts of our social life. Buildings are key contributors to creating spaces offering an attractive quality of life. Achieving these objectives requires careful design of the building’s interior and exterior, its building services, and its access to infrastructure and open space. Design competitions provide a structured and transparent process for clients to identify the designers best suited to the job. Competitions encourage creativity and the development of alternative solutions. At the same time, they provide an efficient means of improving quality and cost-effectiveness.
In Germany, design competitions are usually carried out in line with the RPW 2008 rules.


  1. Scope and quality of design competition
  2. Architectural award
  3. Independent appraisal
  4. Options appraisal
SOC3.2 Integrated Public Art

Art in buildings creates a direct link between the public, the building, and the uses it accommodates. Art can capture the public’s attention and help it identify with a building. Art can also strengthen local identity and foster public approval.

Art in buildings may be integral to the fabric of the building or located elsewhere on the site and there is no restriction to specific types of art.


  1. Funding
  2. Procurement
  3. Awareness-raising
  4. Alternative: Minimum public art requirement

Technical Quality more

TEC1.1 Fire Safety

Fire safety is evaluated on the basis of a checklist. Its structure and how it should be used are described here. The following items will be evaluated if they exceed minimum building regulation requirements:

  •  avoiding construction materials/products which, in the event of a fire, could create poisonous gases, excessive smoke, or accelerate the spread of fire (e.g. by dripping)
  • specifying materials with an increased fire-resistance rating
  • providing enlarged cross-sections for smoke extraction
  • creating smaller fire/smoke sections
  • providing an automatic fire-extinguishing system (e.g. a sprinkler system)
  • providing automatic fire/smoke alarm detectors or other alarm systems

A maximum of 10 points is possible. For a positive evaluation of these indicators, the design documents must clearly demonstrate that minimum standards have been exceeded. Note that the building inspection authority allows for alternative fire-safety concepts and permits deviations from the valid building regulation under certain conditions.


  1. Fire safety certificate
  2. Additional fire safety features of the design and structure
  3. Additional fire safety features of the technical building system
TEC1.2 Sound Insulation

A minimum level of acoustic quality is essential in ensuring that a building can be used for its intended purpose. A room’s acoustic quality is a key determinant for the comfort and satisfaction of its users.

The minimum building regulation requirements for structural sound insulation are set down in DIN 4109. Failure to meet these regulations is not permissible for new builds or modernisations with structural encroachment. However, these requirements do not rule out all possible annoyances but just the unreasonable ones. Sound insulation in office buildings must be designed to safeguard people's ability to concentrate, whilst not placing people with restricted hearing at a disadvantage. In hotel buildings the focus lies on creating adequate conditions for the peace and quiet and privacy of the hotel guests. In residential buildings, values higher than those indicated in DIN 4109 are desirable in order to provide enhanced living comfort. Recommendations for increased sound insulation against sound transmissions from neighbouring areas are indicated in supplementary sheet 2 of DIN 4109, VDI Directive 4100 and in the DEGA recommendation 103. For a high-quality building, sound insulation values beyond these recommendations are desirable. Here the aim is not to increase the sound insulation measures beyond a reasonable framework to a considerable extent.  


  1. Footfall sound insulation against other residential and working areas and in the own area
  2. Airborne sound insulation against other residential and working areas and in the own area
  3. Airborne sound insulation against external noise
  4. Sound insulation against building services systems
TEC1.3 Building Envelope Quality

The objective of this criterion is to reduce space heating demand, achieve a high level of thermal comfort, and to prevent damages to the building fabric.


  1. Median thermal transmittance coefficients of building components
  2. Thermal bridges
  3. Air permeability class
  4. Amount of condensation inside the structure
  5. Air exchange
  6. Solar heat protection
TEC1.4 Adaptability of Technical Systems

Amongst a building’s many components, its technical systems are subject to the most rapid change, and yet they exert a major influence over its proper functioning. The adaptability of technical systems thus holds a key to buildings’ sustainability.

Highly adaptable technical systems (e.g. responding to changing framework conditions) can make a decisive contribution to user satisfaction, the building’s service life and running costs. The objective for planning and constructing buildings today must thus be to make future changes as easy as possible.


  1. Access and spare spatial capacity in technical centres
  2. Adapting operating temperatures to incorporate regenerative energies
  3. Suitability of lift system for later change
  4. System integration across relevant trades
TEC1.5 Cleaning and Maintenance

Cleaning and maintaining a building has a major effect on a building‘s cost and its environmental impact in use. Well-maintained building components last longer. Easy-to-clean surfaces require less cleaning materials and reduce cleaning costs. Hence, the aim is to keep costs for cleaning and maintenance as low as possible and prolong building components useful life.


  1. Load bearing structure
  2. External non-load-bearing structures
  3. Non-load-bearing interior structures
TEC1.6 Deconstruction and Disassembly

The construction sector is one of the greatest sources of material flows worldwide. The material, energetic, and financial effects to which increasing attention is paid are closely linked with the quantities of waste caused. This is also demonstrated by the fact that almost 50 % of the national advent of waste can be attributed to the construction sector. Sustainable construction faces the challenge of reducing the amount of material flow which occurs and guiding it into a cycle of materials.


  1. Ease of disassembly
  2. Scope for disassembly
  3. Recycling / disposal concept

Process Quality more

PRO1.1 Comprehensive Project Brief

The objective of the criterion is to improve the planning outcome by means of an early requirements planning and corresponding agreements on objectives. Requirements planning establishes builders and users requirements and sets these down in as agreed objectives. This makes it possible to formulate planning objectives clearly and to monitor their consistent implementation. Such project preparation has a considerable influence on the later quality of the building.


  1. Requirements planning
  2. Agreement on objectives
  3. Influence on the user and use related expenditure of energy
PRO1.2 Integrated Design

Integrated design is the basis for the design and delivery of a sustainable building: the close coordination of all project participants from an early stage leads to a significant improvement of the design process and the final outcome.


  1. Interdisciplinary planning team
  2. User participation
  3. Public participation
  4. Functional specification
PRO1.3 Design Concept

There is no standard solution for the construction of sustainable buildings. Each project requires new solutions to address the broadest range of issues. In order to make these interact as well as possible and contribute to an optimum solution, an interdisciplinary planning team should develop an integral design approach at an early stage.  The appraisal of different design options is thus an important component of focused planning and makes a significant contribution to improved building quality.


  1. Energy plan
  2. Water plan
  3. Optimisation of daylight / artificial light
  4. Waste plan
  5. Measurement and monitoring plan
  6. Conversion, deconstruction and recycling plan
  7. Cleaning and maintenance plan
  8. LCA design options appraisal
  9. LCC design options appraisal
  10. Quality assurance in implementing the fire safety plan
PRO1.4 Sustainability Aspects in Tender Phase

Integrated design is the basis for the design and delivery of a sustainable building: the close coordination of all project participants from an early stage leads to a significant improvement of the design process and the final outcome.


  1. Sustainability in tendering
  2. Sustainability in selecting contractors
PRO1.5 Documentation for Facility Management

The objective is to support future building operation with comprehensive documents on the building. This primarily involves information about building parts which are particularly relevant in daily operation such as e.g. the maintenance of surfaces and technical installations. With increasing complexity and mechanisation of the buildings it also becomes ever more important to provide recommendations with regard to the use of the building. Important information about the building can be prepared and transmitted in a focused way in the form of user or tenant handbooks and guidelines.


  1. Maintenance, inspection, operating, and care instructions
  2. Adaptation of plans, verifications, and calculations to the completed building
  3. User handbook
PRO2.1 Environmental Impact of Construction

Building sites and building processes pollute the local environment through noise, dust, and dirt. The aim of this criterion is to minimise the impact on the local environment and the residents nearby.


  1. Low waste building site
  2. Low noise building site
  3. Low dust building site
  4. Environmental protection on the building site (soil protection)
PRO2.2 Construction Quality Assurance

The criterion assists in the description and evaluation of the construction work. The objective is to rule out defects as much as possible during the construction phase through good building documentation and quality controls, and to record the quality attained. In addition, later conversion and deconstruction measures should be made easier and optimised in terms of their sustainability.


  1. Documentation of the materials used, auxiliary materials and the safety data sheets
  2. Quality control measurements
PRO2.3 Systematic Commissioning

The planned commissioning of a building makes a decisive contribution to long-term and efficiently functioning building services engineering. The criterion therefore assesses the implementation of well-planned commissioning.


  1. Systematic Commissioning

Site Quality more

SITE1.1 Local Environment

Buildings are subject to many different environmental influences. As a rule, legal regulations appropriately reflect these environmental influences on a building. In addition to this, this criterion deals with extreme events which can clearly influence the condition and value of a building.


  1. Site location risks
  2. Site location conditions
SITE1.2 Public Image and Social Conditions

The perception of a location is determined by its current use. However, at the same time it influences the potential for future uses. An industrially defined perception might enhance a location’s attractiveness for commercial uses but detract from its attractiveness for residential uses. The location’s reputation makes a significant contribution to the building being accepted by its intended users and visitors. A poor reputation can result in the building being empty and demolished prematurely. For the economic and social quality of a location it is therefore crucial that it does not just satisfy functional requirements but also conveys a positive image.


  1. Survey
  2. Positive effect on the location
SITE1.3 Transport Access

Transport links are central to site quality. The criterion therefore evaluates the geographical connection of the building to the individual forms of transport (e. g. the distance to the next stop or motorway access) and the efficiency and quality (e. g. frequency) of the respective means of transport.


  1. Accessibility of the nearest stop on the public transport network (bus, local train, tram, etc.)
  2. Cycling infrastructure at the location
  3. Quality of the road connection
  4. Parking plan
  5. Transport plan, traffic plan
SITE1.4 Access to Amenities

A location can only be evaluated together with its environment and the amenities provided in the surrounding area.


  1. Gastronomy
  2. Local amenities
  3. Parks and open spaces
  4. Education
  5. Public administration
  6. Medical provision
  7. Sporting facilities
  8. Free time
  9. Service providers

Where can I find the criteria?

  • As DGNB Auditor, Consultant and Member you can download the criteria from the internal area of the DGNB website.
  • If your are interested in learning more about the CORE14 but you have no access to the password-protected area, you can request the criteria in our website.

    Request DGNB Criteria

  • You can also find the Criteria Overview for New Office Buildings here.