Life cycle of a building
Photos: Przykuta/Wikicommons; Pavel Losevsky/fotolia; Luke Roberts/wikicommons; Endostock/fotolia; Bausparkasse Schwäbisch Hall AG/F. Thomas; Wolfgang Jargstorff/fotolia; Lekcets/fotolia
With its roots in urban development and energy policy, ecological building is a central element of sustainable policy in Berlin. The framework conditions for private builders are regulated by federal laws and EU
directives. As a Federal State, Berlin can actively work for more sustainability in building. In this way, it enjoys the opportunity to explore and develop models and parameters, as it has been doing since the late 1980s.
The public sector as a model
The city of Berlin has established clear regulations for its own public and publicly financed construction projects.
The principles of sustainability begin with the selection of a location and continue on to the actual building, its use and its operation, all the way to the building's future dismantling. However, such a comprehensive approach, which actually encompasses a building's entire life cycle, cannot be prescribed to private builder. It can only be taught by example.
Triad of sustainability
Photos: Louis Back (3), Mattbuck/Wikicommons
Tools and checklists
In 1994 the Senate established principles that made sustainability mandatory for public building projects. These principles were intended to lead the city 'from an ecological experiment to standardised regulations'. This 'Berlin Standard for Ecological Building' became a nation-wide model. In the shape of the 'Guideline for Ecological Building'
, these standards have been updated regularly.
Architects who participate in competitions for public Berlin buildings by submitting a draft proposal must also fulfil these ecological standards. The 'Ecological Criteria for Building Competitions'
that have been published for this purpose define what criteria must be observed when conducting such competitions. In this way Berlin is ensuring that the concerns of ecological building are already included in the project definition itself.
Regulations for building materials
A further example for sustainable policy concerns regulations regarding the use of building materials (in German)
. Already in the early 1990s the Senate issued its first regulations for public building projects, requiring that they use sustainable materials. These detailed regulations concern both construction and civil engineering and apply not only to all building materials and components but also to auxiliary materials and construction by-products.
Energy standards for public buildings
Energy standards for public buildings are subject to clear regulations. Even today, all new buildings in Berlin that are subsidised by public funds need to be planned and constructed in such a way that their primary energy needs fall thirty percent below the caps set by the 2007 EnEV
. The Senat is currently developing further concrete and stringent regulations. Thanks to these new rules, the city is on course to achieve results that fall well below nationwide limits, such as those of the 2007 EnEV - even after the tightened restrictions of 2009. This 'Berlin Standard' will become the new target when existing public buildings undergo renovation.