Much more than “just” German – the international role played by the DGNB
Yes, it’s true: the D part of the DGNB name stands for Deutsch. We’re German. This has no impact on our operations as an NPO, however: we act on the global stage. Whether it’s in Europe or many other corners of the world, we set up networks and are a much sought-after partner and platform of knowledge for many issues affecting sustainable construction. Probably one of the best examples of this is a recently initiated partnership in Spain.
When people talk about sustainable or green buildings, it doesn’t take long to get onto certification options. And even if certification schemes are different, especially in content terms, it’s quite common to hear the DGNB mentioned in the same breath as BREEAM and LEED, the British and American rating tools. Often, this is the point where the DGNB System has the German label slapped on it.
Given that it’s our heritage, this is understandable (with or without our expanded EU role), not just due to our organisation but also our underlying approach. Despite this, our operations now reach out into all corners of the globe. To date, we have awarded certificates for buildings, building interiors and urban districts in more than 20 countries. And apart from reaching out to other German-speaking countries through our DGNB System Partners in Austria and Switzerland, we also have a particularly strong foothold in Denmark. For the Danes, DGNB certification is considered the epitome of a seal of quality. And the DGNB is also gaining ground in China and Thailand.
A new and extensive partnership with the Green Building Council in Spain
One of the DGNB’s goals is to establish a common European understanding of sustainable building requirements, so this was one of our key motivations recently in entering into a collaboration with the Green Building Council España (GBCe). A core objective of this new partnership will be to work together on a political level. At the heart of this collaboration lies an aim to leverage the GBCe’s strengths in introducing the DGNB System in Spain.
Of course, the GBCe already looks back on years of experience with green building certification through Verde, the local system in Spain. In future, depending on certification results, any project that gains a DGNB Certificate in Spain will be automatically certified under the Verde scheme. On top of this, the working relationship between the DGNB and GBCe will also extend to other areas, such as the framework developed by the DGNB for carbon-neutral buildings and sites, or work being carried out in the field of training and education.
DGNB know-how has an international footprint
One particularly important area in which the international scope of the DGNB is having an impact is educating sustainability experts. Currently, half of all DGNB auditors, consultants or registered professionals are from outside Germany. And further foreign nationals will soon be joining the ranks of DGNB-trained experts, who already hail from a good 40 countries. For example, by the end of this summer the first training sessions will have been completed in Morocco, Italy and Taiwan. Transfer between different approaches and cultures (including Baukultur) is thus a central pillar of our everyday work at the DGNB.
In 2008, the DGNB was appointed as the official representative of the World Green Building Council in Germany, and in the meantime we also have a seat on its board of directors. This long-standing involvement in the global umbrella organisation for sustainable building allows the DGNB to promote knowledge-sharing beyond the borders of domestic construction; it is also important for building bridges between the worlds of business, politics and society in general – and it provides important impetus for greater sustainability in the world we build around ourselves.
DGNB now also member of the Global Alliance for Building and Construction
A variety of further examples were added to the DGNB list of international success stories in recent months. For example, the DGNB has now been appointed a member of the Global Alliance for Building and Construction, which was set up in the wake of the Paris climate conference (COP21). Among other benefits, this will allow the DGNB to intensify its involvement in annual climate change conferences.
It has also become a tradition to present annual Green Solutions Awards at UN climate conferences, which are strongly supported by the DGNB. These prizes form part of Construction21, an online platform used in more than 10 countries as a social networking tool for a whole host of topics relating to sustainable buildings and cities. The DGNB will also become more closely involved in this area in the future, as well as managing the German version of the website.
Networked, involved and distinguished worldwide
Working in collaboration with partner organisations from Spain, France, Denmark, Austria and Switzerland, the DGNB has now initiated a European alliance for sustainable building. The name of the alliance is G17, reflecting the 17th sustainable development goal (SDG) laid down by the UN in order to emphasise the important role played by global partnerships in sustainable development. The alliance had its kick-off meeting in Madrid at the end of 2018. The next meet-up is planned for this year on 12-13 November in Hamburg.
Another initiative has been promoting climate-friendly, culturally appropriate planning and building since November 2017: Building Sense Now. Its aim is to foster the exchange of tried-and-tested know-how between leading international architects and engineers, and thus raise overall awareness in the future, also through the bestowal of the Building Sense Now 2019 Global Award. One of the main initiators of Building Sense Now is the DGNB CEO Dr Christine Lemaitre, who was recently honoured with the GGEF Eco Innovator Award for her international contributions to the promotion of sustainability.
Time to save our planet – but not just in Germany
There is major interest in the planning philosophy and sustainability approach of the DGNB, and if anything, this interest is heightening – way beyond the borders of Germany. This is a good thing – and important – because if we also want buildings to really make a difference to our planet, we will only succeed if we work together. We’ve already taken the first steps, but there are many more on the journey ahead. And our most important assets on this journey? Strong partners and comrades-in-arms.
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