The building sector has a key role to play in realising our sustainability and climate action goals as well as all the multiple challenges associated with them. The effects of climate change can only be limited through the immediate and massive reduction of CO2 emissions. It is about the adequate, preventive adaptation of our built environment to the increasingly far-reaching changes of the climate. About preserving natural resources and ecosystems to protect our livelihoods. About achieving geopolitical independence via a consistently circular approach to planning and construction. And all of this in a way that has positive effects for people as building users and is economically sensible and affordable in the long term.
The 2023 version of the DGNB System for New Construction of Buildings was developed against this very background in an extensive participatory process with the involvement of a large number of experts from all areas of sustainable construction. It is a consistent further development of the 2018 version and focuses even more strongly on the topics mentioned above. In addition, the applicability was further improved, among other things by streamlining the number of criteria. The connectivity to other assessment schemes such as the EU taxonomy, the quality label "Qualitätssiegel Nachhaltiges Gebäude" (QNG), the EU reporting framework Level(s) as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) was taken into account.
As a planning and optimisation tool, the new system version provides targeted support to builders, project developers, architects and planners in finding the best individual solutions for their projects.
In further developing the content of the criteria, the focus was on the diverse requirements for the future viability of buildings. This relates first and foremost to the necessary contribution of real estate to climate action. Topics that address the reduction of CO2 emissions during construction and subsequent operation are strengthened. Among other things, the adjusted criteria will further strengthen the role of buildings as active elements of the energy transition. The preparation of a Climate Action Roadmap will become mandatory as early as the planning stage.
With regard to recyclability, for example, the provision of a building resource passport for documentation and as a basis for evaluation will be rewarded. The use of recyclable materials, products and concepts, as well as the targeted elimination of building components, will also receive even greater attention. The new criteria of the 2023 version include the climate resilience of buildings and building documentation. In the case of the latter, the use of suitable digital solutions is particularly rewarded in order to address the important issue of data availability in later operation at an early stage.
The criteria catalog now comprises only 29 criteria instead of the previous 37. This was made possible on the one hand by a targeted bundling of topics that were previously considered separately, and on the other hand by the omission of some indicators that were no longer required.
A list of all criteria by topic will be available soon.
In the 2023 version, the DGNB System is also based on the three central topics (environment, economy and socioculture), which are now equally weighted at 25 percent instead of the previous 22.5 percent. In the interests of a holistic approach, the DGNB System also assesses site at five percent and technical and process quality at ten percent each (previously 15 and 12.5 percent).
The number of criteria is distributed among the subject areas as follows:
- Environmental quality: 6 criteria
- Economic quality: 4 criteria
- Sociocultural and functional quality: 6 criteria
- Technical quality: 4 criteria
- Process quality: 6 criteria
- Location quality: 3 criteria
In the further development of the certification system, the principle of minimum requirements is applied even more strongly to all those topics that are non-negotiable for a sustainably planned and built property in terms of its future viability. Some minimum requirements are mandatory in order to be certified at all. Others are required to achieve a DGNB Certification in Platinum, the highest level awarded.
Minimum requirements by criteria for all buildings:
- ENV1.1: Disclosure of life cycle assessments and, for buildings not yet designed for net greenhouse gas neutral operation at the time of completion, a "Climate Action Roadmap for Climate Neutral Operation – Target Year According to National Targets".
- ENV1.3: It must be demonstrated that at least 50 percent (by mass) of the permanently installed wood or wood-based materials used is sourced from certified sustainably managed sources.
- ECO2.6: For all buildings, there is a "basic resilience" to climate risks.
- SOC1.2: The indoor air quality measurement meets the minimum requirements for the assessment of indoor air concentration of volatile organic compounds.
- SOC2.1: Accessibility: Compliance with quality level QS1. This must be complied with for all uses (main, secondary and subordinate uses). Exceptions can be found in Table 2 in the criterion.
- TEC1.6: It must be demonstrated that circular aspects are taken into account in planning and implementation. For this reason, as a minimum requirement for certifiability, a deconstruction manual must be submitted or the minimum score of 20 points in the entire criterion must be demonstrated.
- PRO2.3: Development of an energy monitoring concept.
- SITE1.1: A climate risk analysis is available.
Minimum requirements for buildings seeking DGNB Certification in Platinum:
- ENV1.1: Disclosure of life cycle assessments and, for buildings that are not yet designed for net greenhouse gas neutral operation at the time of completion, an "Ambitious Climate Action Roadmap" for climate neutral operation.
- ENV1.2: Compliance with quality level QS3.
- ENV2.2: For a Platinum certificate, 40 points must be achieved in the criterion.
- ENV2.4: For indicator 2 "Habitat" a minimum of 25 points is required.
- ECO2.6: Significant measures to reduce all risks classified as high at the site are being implemented.
- SOC1.2: In mechanically ventilated buildings, the measurement and assessment of indoor air quality results in a TVOC indoor air quality value of less than 1000 μg/m³ and a formaldehyde value of less than 60 μg/m³.
- TEC1.4: Energy generation at the building: For the Platinum award level, a score of 5 points must be achieved in indicator 5.2.1.
- TEC1.6: For the DGNB Platinum Certificate, if deconstruction has taken place, a justification for the deconstruction must be provided and (also applies to projects without prior deconstruction) the minimum score of 40 points in the overall criterion must be demonstrated.
- TEC3.1: A minimum score of 40 points must be demonstrated in the entire criterion.
- PRO2.3: Commissioning of the regulation monitoring is available.
- SITE1.1: A qualified climate risk analysis is available.
If individual regulations exist for individual schemes with regard to the minimum requirements, these are listed in the criteria set under the section "scheme-specific information".
In the further development of the DGNB System for New Construction of Buildings, optimal compatibility with other DGNB assessment systems was ensured. This applies to the DGNB Systems for Buildings In Use, for Construction Sites and for Deconstruction.
Furthermore, the criteria of the DGNB System are harmonised with the requirements of other systems or classifications. Those who carry out a DGNB Certification will therefore not have parallel documentation efforts, but can use the DGNB Certificate as a verification tool for national and international requirements. The DGNB has carried out such a system alignment for the following systems:
- EU taxonomy
- EU reporting framework Level(s)
- quality label "Qualitätssiegel Nachhaltiges Gebäude" (QNG), which is linked to the German federal government's "Bundesförderung für effiziente Gebäude" (BEG) funding programme
- Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations
In the criteria set, the relevance of the individual DGNB criteria for the respective systems is marked with an icon. You can find out how the criteria relate to each other in the system alignment documents (currently only available in German).
The DGNB System for New Construction of Buildings, Version 2023 is applicable for the following schemes:
- Educational buildings
- Offices and administrative buildings
- Department stores
- Healthcare buildings
- Logistics buildings
- Production buildings
- Shopping centres
- Consumer markets
- Assembly buildings
- Residential buildings (Version 2023: more than 5 residential units)
In addition, an application for mixed use buildings is possible.
At the time of certification, the building should not have been completed or commissioned more than three years ago.
If certification of a new building is intended whose completion or commissioning dates back more than three years, this must be agreed with the DGNB Office via a project-specific request for certifiability (PAZ) by a DGNB Auditor before the project is registered. As a rule, it is always possible to certify a building according to a new building scheme.
Actuality of evidence
Expert reports, analyses and simulations must make reference to the current planning status or the building as it was actually constructed. If expert reports and simulations made reference to a previous planning status, evidence must be provided to clearly demonstrate that they continue to be valid and relevant.
Primary or secondary use
Primary: The scheme with the largest area share of the total DGNB assessment area is referred to as the primary use. In the case of mixed use, the scheme with the largest share of space is designated as the primary use. If the classification is not clearly possible (e.g. 40 percent office, 40 percent residential, 20 percent department store), the auditor must determine the primary use and justify the decision.
Secondary use: One or more uses that are assigned to a scheme other than the primary use and whose share of the DGNB assessment area is ≥ 15 percent are referred to as secondary use. The areas of a secondary use must be assessed with the corresponding scheme. Buildings with primary and secondary use (if applicable, subordinate use ≥ 30 percent of the total DGNB assessment area) are to be processed according to the application rules for mixed use.
Subordinate use: One or more uses that are assigned to a scheme other than the main use and whose share of the DGNB assessment area is < 15 percent (in the case of several uses < 30 percent in total) are referred to as subordinate uses. The areas are to be assigned to the main use and assessed according to the scheme of the main use. If there are several subordinate uses and the sum of their area shares in the DGNB assessment area is ≥ 30 percent, the subordinate use with the largest area is to be considered as a secondary use and assessed accordingly.
Certification is possible as a single certification, ensemble certification and multiple or serial certification. Here you will find the delimitation rules for the classification of project certifiability. Unless stated otherwise in the individual criteria, only the building and the open spaces directly associated with it are considered.
In addition, the above-mentioned minimum requirements apply.
Projects can be officially registered in the DGNB System Software for certification according to the 2023 version from 1 July 2023. Until 30 November 2023, it will also be possible to register for the 2018 version. From 1 December 2023, registration will only be possible for the 2023 version.
The corresponding tools will also be made available on 1 July 2023.
Regulation for projects already registered
For projects already registered, the system version valid at the time of registration applies. However, it is possible to change to the new version in consultation with the certification body.
As with other DGNB Certifications, the DGNB System for New Construction of Buildings evaluates according to degrees of fulfilment. The overall degree of fulfilment is calculated from the evaluation of the individual criteria. The highest award level is Platinum.
From an overall degree of fulfilment of 50 percent, the building receives the DGNB Certificate in Silver. From a degree of fulfilment of 65 percent, the DGNB Certificate in Gold is awarded. For a DGNB Certificate in Platinum, the project must achieve an overall degree of fulfilment of at least 80 percent.
The DGNB aims to promote a uniformly high quality of buildings. The overall degree of fulfilment alone is therefore not sufficient for a certificate. A minimum degree of fulfilment must be achieved in each of the topic areas of environmental, economic, sociocultural and functional quality in order to receive the corresponding award. For Platinum, for example, a degree of fulfilment of at least 65 percent is required in these first three areas. A degree of fulfilment of at least 50 percent is a prerequisite for a certificate in Gold. For Silver, the limit is 35 percent per topic area.
The minimum degree of fulfilment required in the 2018 version in the areas of technical quality and process quality will no longer apply in the updated 2023 version.
With the new system version 2023, the DGNB is pursuing the following goals:
- Sharpening requirements, especially with regard to future climate targets
- Streamlining the system by reducing criteria / indicators
- Quality assurance through additional minimum requirements
- Improving the alignment of the various DGNB Systems
- Integration of the requirements of the quality label "Qualitätssiegel Nachhaltiges Gebäude" and the EU taxonomy
- General optimisation of the application and correction of inaccuracies
In part. The aim of the new version of the system is to make buildings sustainable. This means a higher level of ambition than in the 2018 version with regard to issues such as climate action, resource conservation, climate adaptation and mobility.
Other criteria, particularly in the area of sociocultural quality, have also had to be adapted due to changes in the DIN standards. This represents a change, but not necessarily a tightening.
In addition, some criteria, such as sound insulation, have been dropped.
There are no mandatory requirements regarding the use of LCA tools. Therefore, both professional solutions and own tools can be used. If professional tools are used, an overview is provided here for guidance without claiming to be exhaustive (German only). The information provided is based on self-declaration by the tool providers and has not been verified by the DGNB. In addition, the DGNB will soon offer a recognition of LCA tools that will confirm the accuracy of the calculations and data use. The DGNB CO2 calculator can be used to create a climate action roadmap.
When revising the criteria, the requirements from the systems and classifications mentioned were taken into account. Notes on overlaps and synergies can be found in the respective system alignment documents (currently only available in German). Those who carry out a DGNB Certification will not have parallel documentation efforts, but can use the DGNB Certificate as a verification tool for national and international requirements. In the criteria set, the relevance of the individual DGNB Criteria for the respective systems is marked with an icon.
In the development of version 2023, care has been taken to integrate the requirements of the quality label "Qualitätssiegel Nachhaltiges Gebäude" into the certification system to allow parallel processing. However, the new system version has not yet been recognised by the DAkkS (German Accreditation Body). The accreditation process is already underway. As funding criteria are often changed at relatively short notice, it is advisable to check the current regulations at the start of a project.
The product characteristics query will be adapted according to the updated criteria requirements. Manufacturers will be notified when the changes become effective. Manufacturers will then be asked to revise their products and update the characteristic values as necessary. Products that have been awarded the Navigator Label must be revised and submitted to the DGNB for verification in order to maintain the label. More information on updating will be available here shortly.
The new features of Version 2023 do not affect the classification of products in relation to criterion ENV1.2 in the various quality levels. What is new is an additional classification of products also according to quality levels for criteria ENV1.1, ENV1.3 and TEC1.6. Further information will soon be available on the DGNB Navigator website in the "Building products in the DGNB System" section.
The 2023 version only covers residential buildings with six or more residential units. Projects for residential buildings with up to five residential units can be registered in the version of the DGNB System for New Construction of Small Residential Buildings 13.2. An update of this system is currently in progress.
As in the 2018 version, labels can be recognised for criteria ENV1.2 and ENV1.3. The content requirements for ENV1.2 are defined via the criteria matrix. For the content requirements with regard to criterion ENV1.3, compliance with defined criteria must be demonstrated in accordance with a separate document (based on the 2018 version) for label recognition. The separate document will be published shortly.
There are four major urban development projects in Hamburg under the management of HafenCity Hamburg GmbH and its subsidiaries: HafenCity, Billebogen, Grasbrook and Science City Hamburg Bahrenfeld. In an effort to implement consistently high sustainability standards in the districts, sustainability certification has been a prerequisite for land allocation since 2010. Since 2017, it has also been mandatory for all new buildings to achieve the highest award in HafenCity's own certification system. In 2023, this was replaced by a new award developed in cooperation with the DGNB: the DGNB special award Ecolabel. The DGNB special award Ecolabel incorporates key aspects of the former Ecolabel and combines them with the advantages of the DGNB System.
For the further development of the DGNB System for New Construction of Buildings to Version 2023, extensive research and an intensive exchange took place. This involved DGNB Auditors and Consultants, members of various DGNB committees (in particular the DGNB Technical Committee), the DGNB Executive Board and DGNB employees.
Based on the extensive feedback, a plan for the revision was drawn up. This was approved by the DGNB Technical Committee and the DGNB Executive Board. A project team consisting of DGNB employees from the Certification and Research and Development departments then revised the criteria according to this plan.