We are pleased to be able to present to you the new version of our certification system for new buildings. It is the result of in-depth analysis by the DGNB of experiences over the last few years, market trends and requirements in terms of sustainability, as well as certification in this regard. More than ever, it serves to reinforce the DGNB system's status as a global benchmark for sustainability.
In essence, the purpose of the DGNB and the DGNB system is not to provide certification for certification's sake, solely as a marketing tool or to demonstrate leadership; rather, it uses certification as a means by which a consistent overall quality standard can be ensured. Needless to say, this also entails transparent quality control by means of an independent, neutral certification process. The DGNB system is intended to be used both as motivation and as a planning tool, to enable demonstrably better buildings to be built and managed. Rather than being an afterthought or an optional consideration, sustainability must be approached as though it were an integral part of every building project. And while we must acknowledge that, in recent years, our system has not always fully satisfied the requirements mentioned, we can also bear testimony to the fact that there have been a great many positive changes, which is an incentive to us to continue in this direction.
This version of the DGNB system has been produced after taking into consideration a great deal of feedback and experiences from a vast array of different market participants. We have used this as the basis on which to further develop the DGNB system so that it represents and defines more clearly than ever the DGNB's sustainability concept –and so that it can be used as a tool at the planning and construction stages to help find the right answers to the most pressing questions regarding how to make provisions for the future. This takes the form of the following key issues.
We build for ourselves – the people who spend a large portion of their lives inside buildings. With this in mind, it almost goes without saying that people's health and happiness should be a focal point of design and construction decisions. One of their central tenets, the DGNB enshrined this principle in their system from the very beginning. In the latest version, this fundamental precept is systematically developed, further cultivated and more firmly anchored as an idea. This includes, for example, casting a critical eye over the kinds of technology and equipment used in a building, and considering the disempowerment that could result for users if their requirements are ignored in the decision-making process. Allowing users the power of self-determination and responsibility is a necessary and fundamental factor in ensuring that building management is both effective and fit for purpose.
One of the DGNB's primary concerns is promoting the responsible use of resources. This involves not only looking to the future when considering what products to use and what they are made from with regard to their application, but also taking into account possible structural modifications during use. The building's eventual demolition should also be considered when choosing products at the planning stage. For this version, we have systematically developed this topic and established it more firmly in the system. With its certification system, the DGNB is therefore committed to ensuring that material cycles exist for subsequent recycling or reuse in line with the cradle-to-cradle philosophy, by means of new business models coupled with responsible, forward-thinking product development. This makes the DGNB system the first of its kind – a system that allows circular economy solutions at building level to be assessed and measured. To promote new approaches in this respect, these solutions are rewarded with suitable incentives (in the form of bonus points), which have a positive effect on certification results.
The DGNB considers design and construction quality to be part and parcel of sustainable building. In addition to the recommended courses of action proposed in 2016 by an independent design quality committee and aimed at projects in the early design phase, we have introduced the "DGNB diamond" award – a way of evaluating this aspect of sustainability over and above standard certification. This issue is systematically further developed in this version of the DGNB system by focussing more closely on issues that concern the contribution of the building and its outdoor area in the context of urban planning. The criteria for site quality have therefore not only been revised, but will also be included directly in the certification results in future. Furthermore, greater emphasis has been placed on design aspects in order to foster a more integral, holistic approach to planning. More concretely, this includes things such as rewarding the use of the architecture firm that won the tender (along with their specialist design team) for the entirety of the design work. A new criterion with regard to FM-compliant planning has been included in the process quality criteria, in order to take account of facility management aspects right from the design stage.
With Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the top of the agenda 2030, the United Nations set out a number of specific objectives in 2016 that described a pragmatic approach to further developing our world, involving a long-term shift in the way we think, in turn enabling us to live in a more sustainable world. The DGNB supports these objectives and seeks to encourage a concrete step in the right direction by means of certification. In order to firmly establish the concept of sustainable building in compliance with the SDGs and make this transparent, we have checked that all the criteria in this version comply with the objectives of the UN, and have provided the necessary information so that this can be verified accordingly. As a result, every project that obtains DGNB certification will, in future, also be issued with a statement regarding the extent to which it complies with the SDGs. This will also provide motivation to users and facility managers to strive to act in accordance with these goals when using and running the building. To provide additional impetus, for selected criteria, we award a "agenda 2030 bonus" for projects that are particularly noteworthy in terms of their efforts to protect the climate and their implementation of the extra UN sustainability goals.
Ever since its introduction to the market, the DGNB certification system and its methods have been without equal when it comes to compliance with the EU's definition of sustainability. One example is the life cycle assessment for the whole building – from its construction to its operation and, eventually, its demolition – that is defined in the DGNB system and complies with EU standards. The fact that the environmental impact that is calculated and optimised is assessed using scientifically defined benchmarks is important here. For this reason, it was clear to the DGNB that the new EU sustainability indicators set out in the "Level(s)" framework for indicating buildings' sustainability performance should be included in the relevant criteria in this version and their conformity with the DGNB's approaches outlined in order to support and consolidate the EU's approach. This also means that DGNB-certified projects constitute a good, future-proof investment as they satisfy EU-wide principles.
Sustainability has been, and still is, a key issue for the future; when we look at today's buildings and urban districts, we can already see plenty of good examples. But the DGNB plans to push this even further, with bold new ideas. In light of this, a new tool has been integrated into the criteria in this version: Innovation areas. These have now been added to many criteria, and are intended to encourage designers to devise optimal solutions that most closely match the requirements of the project. The innovation areas now incorporated into these criteria are also intended to help foster a design culture based on actively addressing the requirements of the specific building task and tailoring solutions to the individual project.
We consider the further developments and focal points outlined briefly in this version of the DGNB system for new buildings to be important stepping stones towards improving the quality of the environment we build around ourselves, and we will also be rolling them out to all other applications of the DGNB system. Against the current backdrop of global challenges such as climate change, it is increasingly important that issues surrounding sustainability, and in particular its practical implementation, are taken seriously. Verbal agreements and purely market-driven measures are no longer acceptable. And we do not have to accept this, as we have tools at our disposal, such as the DGNB system, that make action possible and that have the power to do a lot of good. With the current version, we can achieve more than ever before.
Dr. Stephan Anders
Director DGNB System
Phone: +49 711 722322-45
s.anders at dgnb.de