© FC Barcelona

Planning and certification for sustainable districts

Living and working spaces are growing ever closer together with increasing urbanisation. Sustainable districts are characterised today by a combination of resource-saving, energy-efficient construction and management with high-quality living standards – in the entire district and with long-term perspectives. This requires a forward-thinking, comprehensive and transparent planning process, and concepts which are designed for the future.

Performance and expertise from the market leader in Europe

With 36 districts already certified in Germany and other countries, the DGNB leads the European market in this sector and is the second strongest system for districts internationally. The DGNB System for the certification of industrial locations is unique worldwide.

The DGNB System version 2016 for urban and business districts provides an efficient instrument for the planning, implementation and evaluation of sustainable districts reduced to 30 key criteria. The development of this version focused on close links with the content of the building certification and on creating criteria which can easily be applied internationally.
Convenient tools ensure the system is easy to use and thus reduce the costs of certification.

The weighting of the quality sections for districts

The DGNB has carefully considered what the sustainability issues of districts really are. It has developed individual criteria sets for the new construction of districts for each scheme.

The criteria are based on proven quality sections: environmental, economic, sociocultural, functional, technical, and process quality. Based on the DGNB principles, the quality of life of the residents is regarded as being especially important.

Certification System Building

District evaluation

Similar to the certification system for buildings, a life cycle assessment is also carried out for districts. This focuses on the publicly accessible spaces between the buildings in the district. Examples of these include traffic routes, squares, and green spaces. In addition, overall concepts for managing energy, water, and waste are considered. The framework conditions for the development of buildings in the district are also weighted highly. Individual buildings within a district are only included in terms of their underlying values and do not need to be certified by the DGNB in order to proceed with the certification of the district.

District certification

As districts are built over long periods, often with multiple phases, we offer certification according to DGNB principles in the form of pre-certification and certification.

A distinction is made between these two types of certificates to address long construction periods. The first of these, with a term of five years, can be awarded when 25 percent of access and services have been completed. The second has an unlimited duration and is awarded when 75 percent of the buildings have been completed.

Evaluation Urban Districts

Urban districts

The DGNB urban districts scheme includes all areas relevant to sustainable building: from district structure, outdoor spaces, educational institutions, local amenities, cultural facilities and sustainable mobility to maintenance, upkeep and cleaning.


© Flughafen Stuttgart

Office and business districts

Local authorities are increasingly focusing on strategies for sustainable urban development. An important feature of sustainable business districts is their incorporation into the surrounding area to ensure a mixed development.


Industrial locations

Approaches to improve the quality of public space amenities as well as child care and shopping for employees are as relevant for this scheme as life cycle assessment and life cycle costs.


© FC Barcelona

Event areas

Event areas make an important contribution to the attractiveness of a city. As these areas present specific challenges, security and environmental strategies for dealing with large numbers of visitors are given high priority.




The DGNB system for sustainable resorts is the first of its kind in the world. Until now, there have been scores of certificates that only revolve around how buildings are operated.


Vertical Cities

Vertical Cities

The Vertical Cities scheme makes the DGNB the only provider in the world to address the challenges presented by tightly packed groups of high-rise buildings. For the first time, a mixture of criteria has been pulled together to represent both buildings and city districts.



Dr. Stephan Anders
Director DGNB Certification
Phone: +49 711 722322-45
s.anders at dgnb.de

Added value of certified districts

The added value that sustainable planning and implementation as well as certification offers has now been ascertained by a survey.

Read more