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DGNB System for Buildings In Use

All buildings must be carbon neutral by 2050. It is a challenge for the entire construction and real estate industry. In Germany buildings cause 30 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions. So building operations pose a vast potential to achieve our climate action goals. This requires a targeted, holistic, yet building-specific approach.

This is precisely where the DGNB System for Buildings In Use comes into play. It is designed as a transformation and management tool that supports building operators, owners and users in the development of a sustainable and climate action-oriented real estate strategy. By systematically considering all relevant information about the building and its characteristics, the usage situation and the real consumption data, the system helps to create transparency and identify optimisation potential. This minimises risks and increases investment security. The certification can be used for individual buildings and entire portfolios, regardless of their type of use. Buildings that are already operated carbon-neutrally are eligible for the Climate Positive award in addition to the DGNB certificate.

Target group of the system

The certification is aimed at all stakeholders involved in buildings in use – at owners and operators as well as building users. The new certification system is not just suitable for flagship projects. It can be used effectively for managing large portfolios, for example in the housing industry or in municipalities.

This scheme specifically addresses: building owners, real-estate managers/portfolio managers, asset managers, property managers as well as operators and facility managers.

Advantages of certification

Advantages for your property:

  • Carbon neutrality of your properties
  • Independently tested and guaranteed quality
  • Protection against loss of value and minimised risks
  • Optimised material flows, waste avoidance and resource conservation
  • Economically optimised processes
  • Satisfied building users
  • Development of a long-term real estate and portfolio strategy

Advantages of the system:

  • Transformation and management tool
  • Lean system
  • Systematic procedure according to the "Plan-Do-Check-Act"
  • Transparency regarding building performance and business processes
  • Process supported by a DGNB auditor
  • Application in the context of CSR reporting
  • Use in the context of communicative measures
  • Improved market opportunities


The criteria

The system focuses on all relevant topics for sustainable building operation and long-term value retention in just nine criteria. The basic structure of the DGNB System for Buildings In Use is based on the well-known three-pillar model of sustainability and divides the essential aspects of sustainable building operations into the topics of ecological quality, economic quality as well as socio-cultural and functional quality.


The criteria in the DGNB System for Buildings In Use are mainly based on a continual improvement process:

  1. Plan: Define specific targets for the respective parameters
  2. Do: Record consumption data
  3. Check: Analyse data and evaluate target achievement
  4. Act: Define measures to optimise operation

This procedure ensures continuous improvement. On the basis of this criteria structure, the DGNB not only evaluates implemented measures and degree of target achievement, but is also able to reward buildings achieving their targets.

You can find a detailed overview of all criteria with the associated requirements here.


DGNB certificate and Climate Positive award

The DGNB System for Buildings In Use like other DGNB certification systems grades buildings by using perfomance indice. The total performance index is calculated from grading individual criteria. The platinum certificate is the most prestigious award issued by the DGNB.

The building receives the DGNB bronze certificate from a total performance index of 35%. The DGNB silver certificate is awarded from 50%. The project must reach 65% for the DGNB gold certificate and 80% for the DGNB platinum certificate.

Buildings that are already operating carbon-neutrally receive the Climate Positive award in addition to the DGNB certificate.This is a recognition of their contributing positively to achieving climate-protection goals.

To obtain a Climate Positive award the building-specific CO2 balance is considered. The award refers to the specific year under consideration. The greenhouse gas emissions that result from the energy consumption of the building are compared with the emissions that are avoided by the building's own energy production at the site. The award is valid for the year in question.

You can find more information about the award here.


Applicability and validity

The certification system can be applied internationally, regardless of use, for all building types. Prior certification as a new building is not required. The only requirement is that the building has been in use for at least one year.

The certification is valid for three years. Recertification is possible annually by submitting the consumption data. Every three years, all criteria must be checked again and the necessary evidence submitted.

Portfolio certification

The goal of portfolio certification is a simplified, faster and therefore more cost-effective certification. The process is carried out in two steps:

In the first step, a basic certificate is created, in which aspects appliable fot the entire portfolio are evaluated and documented. The submitted documents arechecked for conformity. A specification is then drawn up, which defines what project-specific evidence must be submitted for a project-specific certificate.

In the second step, a project-specific DGNB certificate is created for each building that is operated on the basis of the portfolio with basic certification. For this purpose, all other aspects that have not yet been addressed in the basic certificate are assessed in accordance with the criteria. The submitted documents are then subjected to a full conformity check, whereby the aspects from the basic certificate do not have to be verified or checked again.

The certificate is valid for three years from the date of issue and can be recertified via the annual submission of the consumption data. In addition, all relevant criteria are submitted every three years.

A renewal of the basic certificate is necessary in two cases: in the event of a change in the requirements specification, as well as in the event of a change in the content of the DGNB System for Buildings In Use. The fees for the renewal of the basic certificate must be coordinated with the DGNB depending on the scope of the changes.

Project registration

To register a project, the client must first engage a DGNB auditor. The auditor can register the project. The auditor supports the entire certification process providing detailed documentation and submitting these to the DGNB.

Projects can be registered in the current market version "Buildings In Use", Version 2020".

Certification fees


Alice Gerstner
Certification Buildings In Use
Phone: +49 711 722322-80
a.gerstner at dgnb.de


Melisa Körükmez
DGNB Navigator / Certification Buildings In Use
Phone: +49 711 722322-52
m.koeruekmez at dgnb.de


Seema Issar
Manager Buildings In Use / Sustainable Finance
Phone: +49 711 722322-63
s.issar at dgnb.de

Explained briefly - the DGNB System for Buildings in Use