DGNB system for construction sites

DGNB system for construction sites

The planning and operation of a construction site is a complex process. It requires precise preparation, comprehensive monitoring and high-quality execution by both the building owner and construction company. In terms of environmental sustainability, the topics involved include the use of materials, resource conservation, transport, the avoidance of pollutants and the preservation of biodiversity. Aspects which relate to social responsibility on construction sites however are equally relevant. Highly-relevant issues here include the safety of all persons involved in construction and the application of preventive measures for health protection.

At the same time, a smooth and successful construction process often hinges on acceptance by the local public. Information, engagement and dialogue are key factors here. This is exactly what the DGNB system for sustainable construction sites focuses on. The certification provides assistance as a planning and management tool in the quality assurance and risk minimisation on the construction site.

Target group of the system

The key target groups of the certification, which is equally applicable to building construction and civil engineering projects, are building owners, municipalities and construction companies.

Benefits of certification

For building owners
Building owners can submit their project for certification. There are many benefits:

  • smoother construction process;
  • positive image of the construction site (safe, clean, sustainable);
  • additional quality assurance of the construction process;
  • risk minimisation through prevention concepts;
  • demonstrable sustainability;
  • positive impact on planned certifications within the district or of an individual building on the site.

For construction companies
Construction companies can submit their concept for sustainable construction sites and subject it to evaluation and award as part of a basic certification. For all subsequent construction sites this certification forms the basis for project-specific certification. They benefit in multiple ways:

  • basic certificate as a unique selling point in competition;
  • employee safety;
  • systematic optimisation of existing processes;
  • more attractive employer for (new) employees.

For municipalities
Municipalities have the option to make DGNB certification a requirement, thereby contributing to quality assurance at a municipal level:

  • contribution to achieving municipal sustainability goals;
  • acceptance of the construction site by the local public;
  • smoother construction process.

The criteria – what makes a construction site sustainable?

Rather than evaluate individual measures, the DGNB system evaluates the overall performance based on criteria. For construction sites a total of five criteria are taken into account. The concept for these has been based on practical experience of processes on construction sites. Some of them are a mandatory minimum requirement to be fulfilled by all projects.

DGNB Certificate Sustainable Construction Site

The criteria address the five topics environment, economy, sociocultural and functional aspects, technology and processes at the same time, thereby guaranteeing a holistic and sustainable approach

Construction site organisation

The goal of the criterion is to ensure a smooth and safe construction process by having a well-organised construction site during the procurement and construction phase. In addition, impacts on the environment and the consumption of resources must be minimised as part of executing the construction work, the health of everyone involved in the construction protected, and social acceptance of the construction project promoted through comprehensive communication with local stakeholders.

The criterion defines key specifications for construction site planning and updates them through the various life cycle phases, from pre-planning through to long-term property and building monitoring. Workflow and time schedules are required, as well as a health and safety protection plan. Measures to prevent pollution of the local environment are also required. These relate to concepts for a construction site with low levels of noise, dust and waste, soil and water protection, as well as environmentally-friendly and local resident-oriented logistics approach.

The construction site organisation criterion is a minimum requirement for a sustainable construction site.

Resource conservation

In order to retain a high value of the resources in terms of the circular economy, it is necessary to create the greatest possible transparency with respect to the selected process, and recycling and disposal streams for waste generated during construction.

These should be optimised through applying the maximum degree of reuse and material recycling. In addition, it is also the objective to raise awareness of all persons involved in the construction process so that all of them strive to actively influence the processing, recycling and disposal streams.

One aspect of resource conservation relates to resource saving and emissions reduction in terms of the energy used. To promote climate protection, the use of renewable energy is evaluated as positively as the use of environmentally-friendly transport methods. There is also a focus on the reuse and recycling of construction materials, e.g. by actively influencing the recycling and disposal routes. Water consumption is also addressed as part of the certification.

Health and social aspects

The protection of the persons involved in the construction also plays an important role. Social needs should be met through preventive health measures, information regarding personal development and employee training.

In terms of health prevention, in addition to general medical care, measures for specific situations (example: pandemics) also play a key role. A work and safety plan for the key building trades as well as a risk assessment by the contractors are further indicators. Project-internal communication, e.g. in terms of a multi-language approach is also addressed. Important additional aspects include the workplace quality or securing social benefits for all persons involved.

Communication with the local public

Acceptance is key to the successful implementation of construction projects. The focus here is on proactively informing people before and during the construction work, and being available as a contact for enquiries throughout.

Among other aspects, particular emphasis is placed on the appearance of the construction site to the public. The provision of a digital information platform is evaluated positively. This type of approach prevents conflict and also increases the willingness of local stakeholder groups to cooperate.

Construction quality

In order to implement planning goals as well as meeting the requirements in terms of good use of construction products and aspects of construction monitoring and coordination, appropriate quality assurance and meaningful documentation are key considerations.

Plan management, interface coordination or continuous improvement management are evaluated positively here. The focus is on quality assurance of the construction products used, as well as detailed topics such as the prevention of mould formation.

Certification process

The process of certification runs from planning the construction site through to its completion. The concept provides the basis for the evaluation and the award of a preliminary certificate. In order to verify the sustainability across the full construction phase, evidence must also be submitted at regular intervals during the construction phase. The timing of the inspection intervals depends on the duration and scope of the construction project. Evidence of the relevant construction progress must be submitted at the defined inspection intervals. The receives the final DGNB Certificate on successful completion of the construction site.


The phases of certification for construction sites

If a basic certification is sought for construction companies, all documents which can be inspected in advance are submitted. A fixed evaluation of this is then set as the basis for the certification. The DGNB Certificate is awarded following inspection of the documents and once the first projects are defined. For all subsequent projects, only the project-specific documents then need to be submitted. The implementation of the planned measures is then also verified at regular intervals.

If, in addition to the construction site, a certification of the new building is also planned, then the construction site certification provides some benefits. Since in terms of process quality and the construction quality the criteria are identical to the DGNB system for building construction, the evidence to document the construction of the building does not need to be resubmitted.

Evaluation and award

The evaluation for the DGNB system for sustainable construction sites is divided into minimum requirements and variable measures.

The minimum requirements encompass 20 indicators, which must be fulfilled. Fulfilment already results in 35 percent of the maximum possible points being achieved.

The additional points can be achieved via variable measures. It does not matter in which of the criteria the points are achieved. The "DGNB Sustainable Construction Site" award is granted in case of a degree of fulfilment of 65% or more. The ongoing provision of evidence throughout the construction period is a key requirement, however, for maintaining the award for the full period of the construction project. Missing or incomplete evidence will lead to the award being withdrawn.

All construction sites which achieve a degree of fulfilment of 65% or more receive the award.

Use and submission

The system is applied to initial projects as part of the first application and its suitability finally tested. Interested parties have the option to engage actively through their projects.

The DGNB system for sustainable construction sites has been designed to cover all uses and systems, and can therefore be used for all types of construction sites. "Construction sites" are defined as all works which are carried out in the course of erection, refurbishment and/or modification of structural installations. All works also include preparatory and completion works relating to construction sites.

The registration takes place as an enquiry by e-mail when the system is first applied. Please get in touch with us. We will send you the necessary documents for registration and for submission (currently only available in german).

The submission of the documents for certification is done by a nominated person from the building owner, or in the case of a basic certification of a construction company, by a nominated person who is not responsible for the site management. It is recommended to contract a DGNB Auditor, DGNB Consultant or health and safety coordinator. Contracting a sustainability manager is also useful and recommended.

The evidence is submitted digitally via the DGNB construction site tool. This is included in the documents which we will send you as part of your registration.

Certification fees

The certification fees differ depending on the gross floor area and are defined as follows as part of the initial application phase:


  DGNB members* Non-members*
Registration fee 1.000 EUR 2.500 EUR


Gross floor area in m² DGNB members* Non members*
< 2.500 1.400 EUR 2.400 EUR
> 2.500 - 10.000 2.000 EUR 3.300 EUR
> 10.000 - 20.000 2.850 EUR 4.450 EUR
> 20.000 - 50.000 3.950 EUR 5.850 EUR
> 50.000 - 90.000 5.350 EUR 7.600 EUR
> 90.000 - 130.000** 7.100 EUR 9.800 EUR

*All prices are plus VAT

** for buildings with a GFA (R) >130,000m² we will be pleased to provide you with a specific offer.

Should you have questions regarding a basic certification, please contact us in person.


Theda Witte
Certification Infrastructure and construction areas
Phone: +49 711 722322-59
t.witte at dgnb.de


Markus Kelzenberg
Director Certification Body
Phone: +49 711 722322-75
m.kelzenberg at dgnb.de