The certification system of the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) is an internationally-acknowledged system of evaluation in terms of a holistic, sustainable method of construction. The system has been in existence since 2009, and has been developed continuously since then, making it the most advanced system of evaluation in the world. The certification process allows for a high degree of future certainty for construction projects. Sustainable buildings retain their value due to their lower operating and maintenance costs. Sustainable buildings reduce the risk of building vacancy, for example, and increase the rental income. This means that sustainable buildings have a superior market and resale value than other properties. Sustainable building is therefore value-enhancing and reduces costs at the same time.
The system consists of the three paradigms of life cycle analysis, an holistic approach and a performance orientation. This means that the entire cycle of a project is evaluated during the certification process, and the interplay between the individual sub-aspects is therefore considered to be an overall performance. As every building goes through a process which consists of various phases from the planning to the dismantling, and which have different requirements and conditions, the DGNB system of certification accompanies projects during every phase of the construction work. The phases encompass: the planning, construction, (building in) operation, stock/conversion/rehabilitation and end-of-life (dismantling). The system differentiates between these phases and creates different measures for new buildings, neighbourhoods, existing buildings and interiors.
The system is based on the sustainability areas of ecology, economy and socio-cultural factors, which are given an equal weighting in the evaluation. On this basis, the impact on the environment, the use of resources and the costs of managing and maintaining a project are taken into account. Environmental guidelines govern the energy management as well as the waste management and recycling, in addition to the procurement of office materials and the production of printed materials. It is naturally the case that protecting the climate is also a priority for the DGNB. This leads to the further development of the requirements surrounding climate-neutral buildings and locations, which are also stipulated in the guidelines.
An holistic view is achieved by taking the location into account, as well as the technical and processing quality of a project. An individual adaptation of the criteria to the respective use type of the building project allows for the optimum implementation of the sustainability.
The projects are classified according to certificates in platinum, gold and silver and, for existing buildings, in bronze. If the overall degree of fulfilment of the criteria is 80% or more, the platinum certificate is awarded. Gold requires a degree of 65 – 80%, silver between 50 and 65%, and bronze between 35 and 50%. The certification is initially completed in the form of a plausibility check (pre-certificate) and then via a conformity check (certificate).
The German Sustainable Building Council was founded in 2007 with the objective of encouraging a sustainable construction and property sector, and anchoring this in the public awareness. The Council is presently the biggest network for sustainable construction in Europe, and is represented by a wide range of groups, including architects, manufacturers of construction products, investors, scientists, members of the construction industry and municipal authorities. As an association, the Council considers itself to be a non-profit and non-governmental organisation which is committed to the public interest. One of its key tasks is to raise public awareness for the issue and relevance of sustainable building and climate protection.