“I don’t see how that can work” – Minister of Construction Geywitz against stricter energy standards

Klara Geywitz (SPD)

The Minister of Construction advocates carefully considering how a building can become more environmentally friendly.

(Photo: dpa)

Berlin Building Minister Klara Geywitz (SPD) has expressed skepticism about further tightening of energy standards for buildings. At the “Day of the Real Estate Industry” industry meeting in Berlin on Wednesday, Geywitz pointed out that the building sector is already making a major contribution to reducing carbon dioxide emissions with the decarbonisation of heat supply. “I’m not convinced that we then have to do everything at the same time to make every building as energy-efficient as possible,” said Geywitz.

Otherwise, the entire building stock in the Harz, Sauerland and Altmark, for example, would have to be thoroughly renovated, Geywitz explained at the event of the Central Association of the Real Estate Industry (ZIA). “I don’t see how that can work, I don’t see how it can be financed.” That’s not necessarily helpful for the CO2 balance either.

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The federal government had agreed in the coalition agreement that the so-called efficiency house 40 standard (EH40) should become the legal minimum standard in new buildings from 2025. Buildings based on this standard require a maximum of 40 percent of the energy required by a legally defined standard house in accordance with the Building Energy Act (GEG). EH55 has been in force in new buildings since January 1, 2023.

The state promotes further energy standards in existing buildings. In addition to the EH40, there are also EH55, EH70, EH85 and the EH monument. The smaller the key figure, the higher the energy requirements and thus the construction or renovation costs. The renovation measures include, for example, the insulation of facades or roofs.

Geywitz expects resistance

Minister of Construction Geywitz stated that she expected an objection from Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens). The Greens see the tightening of energy standards as a useful addition on the way to climate neutrality.

Green building politician Kassem Taher Saleh told the Handelsblatt: “The energy transition is not a free pass for inefficient buildings.” The limited availability of renewable energy “forces us to place high efficiency requirements on our buildings,” explained the member of parliament. The coalition partners have agreed on an EH40 standard, which, in combination with ecological insulation materials and a life cycle assessment, will ensure climate-friendly living space – and that from 2025.

The minister, on the other hand, wants to initiate a broad debate on what constitutes an environmentally friendly building before the regulations are tightened further. In her opinion, the focus must be more on lower emissions when constructing a building, for example by using natural materials.

“My idea is: to save as much energy as an EH40 building, but in a smarter, smarter way,” she said. In addition, the legal framework would have to be created so that more recycling material could be used in the construction of buildings.

It is “a complex but crucial political debate,” said Geywitz. “We have to have this discussion in the federal government before we introduce EH40 in 2025.”

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