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Planning and certification for buildings in use

The Buildings in Use scheme acts as a supplement to the existing DGNB certificate and covers existing buildings with a focus on operational factors. The evaluation spans a number of aspects with different weightings, such as how key players are involved, essential factors relating to sustainability and the nature of the current setup:

• The processes and activities of the building operator
• Application of key sustainability considerations by building users
• Sustainability factors directly pertinent to the building itself

Nine criteria – for all kinds of buildings
This scheme provides a tangible and easy-to-use tool for evaluating and improving the sustainability of a building by including aspects relating to its operators and users. By only drawing on nine key criteria, it is possible to assess the sustainability of all kinds of buildings currently in use, no matter what category of building they are.

An efficient tool for continuous improvement processes
The DGNB sustainable certificate for Buildings in Use has been designed to help building operators and owner-occupiers establish continual improvement processes, taking essential sustainability factors relating to their building into account. The aspects we considered important for the assessment criteria and key requirements included factors such as the degree of influence held by users and their ability to improve things, especially given the standards already actually met by a building. For each criterion, the same structures are used based on tried-and-trusted management processes. The assessment also addresses who is responsible for which criteria and scope (building, operation, user).

  1. Determine topic objectives
  2. Implement measures and processes to achieve objectives
  3. Install instruments for monitoring objectives
  4. Assess progress regularly (if necessary using DGNB benchmarks)
  5. Plan optimisation projects and activities

The DGNB uses these criteria to acknowledge any measures that have been implemented and the extent to which objectives were fulfilled. The criteria also unable the DGNB to acknowledge work in progress. As a result, the DGNB is in a position to set potential benchmarks for new topics in the future and this is useful for defining any new objectives that are worth striving for.

To make it possible to draw comparisons with external objectives, the market version produced by the DGNB lays down benchmarks for

  • final energy consumption
  • CO2 emissions
  • occupancy rate

The makes it possible to compare your performance with market standards and estimate the potential to make optimisations.

Inexpensive and focussed on the actual needs of business
The lean approach we have adopted makes the system as efficient as possible for owners of existing buildings (even across different categories), auditors looking after different types of customers, and of course the DGNB itself.
When the DGNB conducts conformity checks, the focus usually lies in requesting evidence at random or asking for confirmation from the operator, tenant, investor or auditor. These checks can cover all requirements for certification and points are awarded accordingly. This makes it easier to reduce the amount of paperwork involved in certification and streamline the certification process according to existing procedures.

Recertification after three years
The DGNB sustainable certificate for Buildings in Use applies to all buildings that have already been in use for a minimum of one year. Certification is valid for three years in each case, at which point a building can be recertified. Conformity checks for recertification are applied in a simplified version with emphasis placed on a first-time assessment of any changes.


Dietmar Geiselmann
Manager Existing Buildings
Phone: +49 711 722322-59
d.geiselmann at dgnb.de