Green Building – Certified sustainable construction
Climate change and resource scarcity mean that the construction industry has some rethinking to do. It is therefore increasingly opting for Green Buildings, whereby buildings are developed with sustainability as a guiding principle. Informative certifications for the evaluation of construction products and buildings are also available.
Ecological construction as a commitment and challenge
We only have one planet. How can we sustain it? How can we live, do business and build on our planet so that it is inhabitable for the next generation? By acting sustainably. It’s an obligation on all of society, including the construction industry. The key word here is Green Building, which means sustainable construction, covering everything from selecting suitable construction locations to specially chosen materials, increased energy efficiency, and certified interiors.
The Green Building concept aims to preserve the ecosystem and the environment, and to benefit people and society. It therefore takes the changing relations between people, the built environment and the ecosystem into account. The aim is to leave behind an intact world fit for habitation by future generations.
The guiding principle of sustainability therefore ideally covers the whole life cycle of a building - from the project development and planning through to construction, operation, maintenance and disassembly. "Green" buildings are therefore characterised by a high-quality ecological design and superior resource efficiency in the areas of energy, water and materials. Damaging effects on health and the environment are reduced to a minimum.
Smart Buildings – making intelligent construction possible
ÖAMTC headquarters: intelligent planning delivers low operating costs © Sigrid Rauchdobler / GEZE GmbH
Sustainable construction in principle therefore means smart construction and in particular, the efficient use of energy and resources and of automated building technology to increase comfort and functionality. Intelligent buildings offer comfortable, environmentally friendly high-tech environments which are more productive to live and work in.
In practice, the main focus is generally on energy consumption since property operating costs account for around 40 per cent of Germany’s entire energy demand. For example, if 50 per cent of older buildings were modernised for sustainability, carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced by 200 million tonnes per annum. New buildings all now have a focus on energy efficiency.
Certification for green buildings
The Empire State Building, the most famous office building in the world, was fully renovated in 2009. Since then, it has been a model of sustainability and energy efficiency. It was awarded the LEED Gold Award in 2011, making it the largest building in the USA to receive a LEED award. LEED is one of the most well known certification systems for assessing the ecological, social and economic quality of buildings.
Sustainable buildings are more valuable, with lower operating and maintenance costs. With their high quality evident to owners, tenants and users, they are easier to sell or lease. Certified buildings can be compared at both a national and at an international level. Demand for certified buildings is constantly increasing.
Various certification systems for sustainable construction have been established in the international sphere. They rate buildings using a specific catalogue of criteria, but use different weightings and are based on typical national standards and regulations.
The most well-known Green Building Rating Systems are
- the British BREAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) certification system,
- the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification system from the U.S. Green Building Council,
- and the DGNB (German Sustainable Building Council) certification system.
These certifications allow building operators and owners to follow a structured procedure to take practical and measurable measures for the planning, construction, operation and maintenance of sustainable buildings. They are now applied worldwide.
EPD – Declaration of environmentally relevant product properties
EPD certificate label
Green Buildings use ecologically safe, low-emission materials. Information for the German market is provided by the construction material industry under the umbrella of the IBU (Institut Bauen und Umwelt e.V.) using Environmental Product Declarations, or EPDs for short.
An EPD provides quantified environmental information on the life cycle of a product to enable a comparison with products with the same functions. An EPD is based on independently checked data from ecological life cycle assessments, specialist assessments or information modules which comply with the ISO 14040 series of standards.
The German Institute for Construction and the Environment (IBU) and the Institute for Window Technology in Rosenheim are publicly recognised facilitators of the programme in Germany, and create and publish EPDs for the construction sector.
The procedure for the production of EPDs since 2005:
- Manufacturers create an ecological assessment for their product and present this data as an EPD in accordance with the European standard.
- The IBU has the information checked by independent experts and the EPD is then published.
EPDs describe construction materials, products or components in relation to their effect on the environment based on the ecological assessment, and their functional and technical properties. This information relates to the whole life cycle of the construction product. The energy consumption needed for manufacture and the emissions this causes, the durability, and the capacity for dismantling and recycling are identified.
EPDs form the foundation of data for the sustainability assessment of buildings, for example through the BREEAM and LEED international assessment systems, or the systems operated by the DGNB (German Sustainable Building Council) or the Federal Ministry of Construction.
The three key building certifications
The certification systems examine and certify the sustainability of whole buildings. The German DGNB Seal and the American and Canadian LEED certificate are currently battling to be considered the most comprehensive certification system. For example, Deutsche Bank decided to have all its company buildings, and especially newer buildings, certified according to DGNB and LEED so that it can compare its international property portfolio.
All three labels follow the same basic procedure. Buildings aiming for the award must meet a very complex catalogue of requirements. Various criteria are assessed using a points system and assigned to the building. An assessment is produced from all of the categories and sub-categories which indicates how sustainable the building is.
As a company that has enshrined sustainability as a key guideline, and makes an active contribution to energy-efficient construction, membership of the DGNB is an obvious choice.Brigitte Vöster-Alber, Chief Executive Officer of GEZE
The most important Green Building assessment systems: BREEAM, LEED, DGNB
Building sustainability has become increasingly important in recent years. Certification systems for sustainable buildings are gaining recognition, alongside the development of new criteria and assessment systems. A building certificate is awarded when the quality requirements specified and published by an organisation have been met. These certifications are primarily used for quality assurance and to publicly communicate that the respective label has been obtained. Investors, owners, tenants and users can assess the quality of a building based on its certification. The three selected seals are difficult to compare since factors are weighted very differently.
BREEAM stands for the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method. It is the oldest and most widespread certification system for sustainable construction. It was developed in the UK in 1990. BREEAM uses a simple points system to award a quality seal at four levels in eight assessment categories. The criteria take the effects at global, regional, local and interior design level into account. BREEAM originally assessed the phases from planning through to implementation and usage. The procedure was completely revised in 2008 and now takes the whole life cycle into account, including adjusted weighting of the environmental effects. Mandatory points have also been introduced.
- Land consumption and ecology
- Health and wellbeing
- Renovation and new construction
- Wide range of building types such as offices, public buildings
- Residential buildings and estates
Assessment: excellent, very good, good or average
The US LEED system (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) was developed in 1998 on the basis of the British BREEAM certification system. Certification was introduced in Canada in 2002. The requirements of the American system were transferred, and individual details relating to the climatic conditions, standard construction methods and national legislation were amended.
Buildings are assessed by awarding points for individual criteria. The sum of the points awarded determines how the construction is classified during certification. LEED relates to all phases of the life cycle. The United States Green Building Council (USGBC), headquartered in Washington, and the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) in Ottawa, are responsible for the system and its further development.
- Sustainable land and soil
- Water efficiency
- Energy and atmosphere
- Materials and resources
- Interior design quality
- Innovation and design process
- New buildings
- Existing buildings
- Core and building envelope
- Interior equipment for general and office administration
- Retail industry
- Residential buildings
- Urban development
- Health and care facilities
Assessment: Platinum, Gold, Silver and Certified
In 2009, the first buildings in Germany were awarded the German Sustainable Construction Quality Seal from the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB, itself founded in 2007).
The DGNB developed its own certificate for Germany to close gaps in the existing systems and to introduce additional quality criteria which take German standards and regulations into account. The system builds on the life cycle approach and takes the ecological as well as the economic and socio-cultural aspects into account - i.e. the three pillars of sustainability. Technology, process and site location also play a role in the planning and construction of the building. The certificate also takes regional characteristics and construction materials into account. To achieve even the lowest level of certification, buildings need to far exceed the legal standards.
- Social and functional aspects
According to the building type, up to 40 sustainability criteria - which are continuously developed by independent panels of experts - are included in the assessment.
Application area: The certificate has been designed for all types of existing buildings and new buildings, from commercial skyscrapers, to family homes and infrastructure such as tunnels and bridges.
Assessment: Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze.
Online databases for green construction products
Construction products significantly contribute to the sustainability of buildings. If planners or owners wish to gain certification, they need to schedule products which meet the certification requirements. Online databases help with product research and verification of the certification body. Manufacturers can document their commitment in the area of sustainability.
A database provided by the Institute for Construction and the Environment (IBU) which provides the ecological data from the environment product declarations (EPDs) in XML format. The EPDs can thus be used to calculate a building’s ecological assessments.
- DGNB Navigator
The DGNB Navigator also lists construction products which feature environmental product declarations (EPDs) as well as complete information. The DGNB navigator builds a bridge between construction products and the DGNB certification system for buildings by providing the required data for building certification.
A database for products which have been assessed according to DGNB, LEED or BREEAM criteria. The product database provides construction professionals with the required information and verification documents for the individual products in a pre-prepared form. The advantages include: Time-saving when researching products and collating evidence, planning security for Green Building Projects, and provision of all relevant evidence documents.
Service platform for green building projects. The BMS offers a comprehensive tool for the planning and implementation of Green Buildings - from the automated evaluation of products according to the common sustainability criteria DGNB, LEED or BREEAM, to the simple and fast search for products with all relevant supporting documents, to the project documentation.
Sustainable construction with GEZE
Drives and controls from GEZE for sustainable construction © Exorbitart / GEZE GmbH
GEZE supports sustainable building as an active member of the Institute for Construction and the Environment (IBU) and of the German Sustainable Building Council.
From product development and production through to sales, maintenance and after-sales service, GEZE works according to the latest environmental standards. Our quality management system is certified according to the DIN EN ISO 9001 standard.
The longevity of GEZE products is evidence of their sustainability. With a high proportion of metal raw materials, GEZE products are highly recyclable and so Exceptionally environmentally friendly. They also make an important contribution to energy-saving buildings. GEZE automatic door systems close reliably, reducing the loss of warm or cold air through the door opening.
The automated window systems are also part of the aeration and ventilation system, which uses fresh air and the effects of wind and thermal technology. This is also taken into account for the EU-valid lowest energy standards, which are stipulated by the Energy Saving Ordinance in Germany. Intelligent drives with the latest controls from GEZE ensure aeration at the push of a button. They can also be combined with sensors which automatically open and close windows when needed. Natural ventilation and cooling at night also help to naturally cool buildings and to reduce the use of air-conditioning units.
GEZE supports sustainable energy concepts with networked system solutions and the integration of GEZE drives into building technology or building management systems (which coordinate and monitor the window systems). The GEZE Cockpit building automation system for smart door, window and safety technology plays an important role in saving energy and makes buildings smart and green.
GEZE products satisfy LEED and DGNB criteria
GEZE products provide evidence of compliance with DGNB and LEED criteria via the EPDs and are therefore listed in the DGNB Navigator and greenbuildingproducts.eu online databases with the respective certificates. The certificates provide evidence of the number of points which a GEZE product can contribute to successful DGNB or LEED certification of a building. GEZE thus supports its clients in achieving Green Building certification.
All over the world, sustainable buildings are increasingly in demand, leading to a surge in construction. Over 130 buildings have already been awarded the DGNB certificate or a pre-certificate in Germany.
The Vector company building was awarded the Platinum level of the DGNB certificate for sustainable construction and the DGNB Diamond level for excellent architecture and special design and construction quality in 2017. © Jürgen Pollak / GEZE GmbH
Milaneo Shopping Centre Stuttgart
GEZE equipped the shopping mall with the latest door and safety technology. It was awarded the Gold level of the pre-certificate by the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB). © Jürgen Pollak / GEZE GmbH
As a member of the DGNB, the sustainability of buildings is very important to us. We advise on new builds as well as the modernisation of existing buildings.
Certified products facilitate planning
Transparent and evidence-based representation of product properties (EPDs) is important to GEZE.
GEZE products satisfy DGNB and LEED criteria. This is increasingly important for architects when planning energy-efficient green buildings.
GEZE provides support for planning and creating Green Buildings - both for new builds and for the renovation of existing buildings.
GEZE product sustainability
From product development and production to sales, maintenance and after-sales service, GEZE works according to the latest environmental standards. The GEZE environmental management system is certified in accordance with the international standard DIN EN ISO 14001. GEZE supports sustainable building as an active member of the Institute for Construction and the Environment (IBU) and of the German Sustainable Building Council.
The sustainability of all GEZE products and systems is already evident in their long service life, which is based on premium material and production quality. For example, we were able to implement process automation with minimum amounts of lubrication and so avoid using cooling lubricants. Only a very small amount of an air-oil mixture is needed. This ensures sustainable, efficient and economic conditions at all GEZE production sites worldwide.
In addition to the positive aspects of eco-balance, the door closers are already long-lasting due to their functioning. They prevent doors from being left open unintentionally and contribute to the energy efficiency of the building.
Transparent information on products and production
Sustainability is one of our guiding principles. From product development and production through to sales, installation and after-sales service, we operate according to sustainability standards. Our high-quality products coupled with our comprehensive consultation and support in all the construction phases are of valuable assistance to our customers and partners. They make the planning of sustainable buildings and their increasingly important certification in a growing green building market easier. We attach great importance to providing transparent information about our products and their environmental data.