DGNB office, inside
1 Green walls for better air quality, 2 Flexible interior design options, 3 Low-emission carpet made of recycled shing nets with high footstep suppression,
4 Benches in FSC-certifid wood

Stuttgart spearheads sustainable building in Germany

Builders bear responsibility – personally, for the people who use their buildings, and our environment. The principle of sustainable building promoted by the German Sustainable Building Council [Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen – DGNB e.V.] addresses these aspects. However, the commitment of the non-profit organisation based in Stuttgart reaches far beyond the established certification system.

Burying your head in the sand and looking the other way is not a good option when dealing with climate change. This applies especially to the building and real estate business. After all, this sector is largely accountable for worldwide resource consumption, CO2 emissions and waste generation. Or, taking a positive view, this is where major levers, potentials can be used to prompt change. But how? Sustainability is the key. Yet it is vital that it does not remain an empty word. It must be filled with life, signify a common understanding of the upcoming challenges and show how we can apply sustainability in practical terms.

Caleido inner courtyard

Caleido: DGNB headquarters

“Sustainable building and Stuttgart with its high
planning density and innovative tradition are inextricably linked with each other.”

DGNB Vice President,
founder haas cook zemmrich STUDIO2050,

The DGNB shows how it can be done with its certification system for buildings and urban districts. It is based on practical criteria – more than 30 in the case of new buildings – all of which deal with aspects that can exercise a positive influence on the sustainability capacity of a building project. This reaches far beyond looking only at energy efficiency. In simple terms, the equation is “Environment + Economy + People”. A closer look reveals that many of the criteria start with environmentally friendly material production and the avoidance of hazardous substances and contaminants. It goes beyond the complexity of lifecycle costs, starting with raw material extraction to dismantling buildings 50 years on, to cover all those aspects that make a building attractive to provide a healthy and productive environment.

THINK K Stuttgart Killesberg, Stuttgart

The main asset of the DGNB certification system is that it helps all stakeholders involved in building projects to reach a common understanding of the aims of sustainable building at an early phase of the project. So it is more than just a label decorating the facade of a building. It concerns integral processes and planning with vision which already takes account the costs of the near and distant future into.

Its initiator, the DGNB, a non-profit organisation, has set itself the goal of promoting sustainable building, raising awareness of its necessity and creating opportunities – in both professional circles and society in general. Since it was founded in 2007 the council, with 1,200 member organisations in less than a decade, has become Europe’s largest network for sustainable building. From its base in the heart of Stuttgart the DGNB networks architects and planners with investors, contractors, building product manufacturers, universities and associations. Many companies, especially in the Stuttgart, region have actively helped to continue the DGNB success story through their commitment.

One of the key chapters in this story takes place in the Caleido in Tübinger Straße. This project and more than 50 others in Stuttgart have been awarded a (pre-)certificate by the DGNB. The new building became the council’s new headquarter in July 2014. It not only offers office space for around 40 DGNB staff, but also acts as a living showroom for interested visitors, letting them gain first-hand experience of all aspects underpinning the principle of sustainable building. The showroom has already attracted more than 4,000 visitors and elicited their stunned admiration.

Blocher Blocher Partners, Stuttgart

Center for Virtual Engineering – Fraunhofer IAO, Stuttgart

The DGNB is also increasingly inspiring admiration abroad. The holistic approach to sustainable building with the quality seal of “Made in Germany” is in high demand. There are more than 2,000 DGNB certified projects sited in over 20 countries. Over 3,000 professionals from more than 30 countries have already been trained as experts for sustainable building via the DGNB Academy platform. This is complemented by many strategic partnerships, as in the World Green Building Council, for instance.

All of this contributes to the DGNB idea being spread from Stuttgart to the rest of the world. An important step, since ultimately we are all faced with a major challenge which we can only resolve together; creating a world with buildings and urban districts in which we can enjoy a happy and healthy life.