For the good of the inhabitant and the planet: ideally, every building project should be brought to a holistically healthy denominator. Although it is not easy to find standards outside the realm of energy efficiency, there is certainly guidance available. And within those still maximum freedom in the design.
There is no secret recipe or magic formula. The basic principle is that in sustainable construction, the impact on the environment is considered and minimized in every phase of a building project. From the production and use of a building to its potential demolition, resource-conserving, energy-saving and durable measures play the main roles. Or to put it another way: those who build ecologically use energy-efficient, sustainable and healthy methods in construction and in living in the building that do not harm either the inhabitants or the environment – and ideally do so from A to Z and as widely as possible.
Minimal soil sealing and maximum ground surface right at the start: ground that is as rich in light as possible should, in the best case, be treated and planned as sensitively as possible. In addition, climate-neutral and low-pollutant building materials are preferred for the ecologically sensible project, natural materials are favored and chemical additives are largely avoided. However, it is always our duty to maximally reduce energy consumption and energy generation from sustainable sources, both inside and outside. And here there are official legal regulations: because an ecological building tries to waste as little energy as possible and leave behind hardly any waste products, future new buildings are subject to even stricter requirements according to EU law. From 2021, new buildings must be built to the lowest energy standard, which as things stand today is at least equivalent to the k-efficiency house 50. By 2050, the law provides for buildings to be almost completely climate-neutral by promoting the construction of passive houses and the renovation of existing buildings. In concrete terms, for both new and old buildings this means sensible insulation of the facade and roof plus modern windows plus efficient heating systems.
Ecological or economic
Organic is more cost-intensive than conservative? Only at first glance. More expensive technology, more expensive products, more expensive procedures: in general, one reads of up to ten percent additional costs for an organically built house. According to experts, the initially higher price will be compensated for in the long run, because the oko-variant is of higher quality and permanently stable construction and avoids constant renovation. Whether solar power, geothermal energy or wood pellets: so-called renewable energies are also regarded as important components of an ecological, sustainable and inexpensive supply system. Keyword self-sufficiency: renewable sources of electricity and heat such as solar energy, the renewable fuel wood or environmental energy from air and soil help to reduce the consumption of fossil energy sources and to save energy and money through self-generation. It is not without reason that a climate-neutral building stock consisting of energy-saving low-energy houses and energy-producing energy-plus houses is the definitive goal of the government’s energy transition project. Solar thermal and photovoltaic systems are therefore standard in new construction, while biomass heating and heat pumps continue to gain ground.
The same applies to modern dam materials and efficient windows: quality with proven benefits saves energy and money – and their use often opens up a wide range of opportunities to reduce costs in the long term.
Earthen building or wooden house? Prefabricated house or individually planned? Ecologically correct measurements can be demanded, as long as they comply with the prescribed k-standards, for example. For a long time now, there have been different levels of requirements for a residential building in terms of the efficiency house of the state-owned forderbank. For example, the currently popular k-efficiency house 40 may only consume forty percent of the energy required by a conservatively built building – and only half of that required by the k-house 50. In return, the k offers particularly favorable loans for economic and ecological financing.
However, the state credit institute for reconstruction is not the only option. Regional, green or even ethical banks or institutions are also contact points for the requirement of a sustainably built object beyond energy efficiency and help with clearly defined criteria: during construction, requirements must be met in order to qualify for the respective program – often also by means of certification of the construction project.
Where to inform?
When it comes to complete environmental planning, it’s always a good idea to consult the appropriate experts. Whether the bundesindustrieverband der deutschen heizungsindustrie, the deutsche gesellschaft fur nachhaltiges bauen, the institut fur bauen und umwelt, the arbeitsgemeinschaft okologischer forschungsinstitute, or building biologists – they all offer guidance on fundamental questions. The federal ministry for the environment also provides support in the form of a guide to sustainable building that can serve as a checklist. And: of course also builders and prefabricated house specialists orient themselves at environmental contract criteria and offer to the partly certified theory still the concrete conversion acceptance. What works where, when and in a particular case remains individual and requires cooperation and coordination: of professionals, professional knowledge and personal prerequisites.Annette gropp