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 been mandatory for all new buildings to achieve the highest award in HafenCity's own certification system. In 2023, it 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 certification system "HafenCity Ecolabel" and combines them with the advantages of the DGNB System. The award is based on both the DGNB System for New Construction Buildings and the DGNB System for Buildings in Use, in their respective current versions. By integrating special requirements from the former certification system of HafenCity Hamburg GmbH, the award is tailored to the specific characteristics of the four urban development areas, with particular emphasis on the ecological dimension of sustainability.
Certification and awarding in accordance with the DGNB special award Ecolabel is aimed at project developers and builders with new construction projects within the Hamburg urban development areas HafenCity, Billebogen, Grasbrook and Science City Hamburg Bahrenfeld. For construction areas developed by HafenCity Hamburg GmbH or its subsidiaries, certification is contractually agreed as part of the property development process and is thus mandatory.
At the same time, only projects within these areas can receive the special award.
The DGNB special award Ecolabel is based on the DGNB Criteria for new construction of buildings and for buildings in use (see below).
Special focus of the certification
In addition to the regular DGNB Criteria, projects in the HafenCity, Billebogen, Grasbrook and Science City Hamburg Bahrenfeld development areas are subject to special requirements for the DGNB special award Ecolabel, both for the initial certification of new construction and for the recertification of the building operation, which take into account the special circumstances of the areas.
The special award takes particular account of the inner-city location of the areas, which are characterised in particular by high urban density, a large number of new buildings in close proximity to each other and good integration into the city-wide (transport) infrastructure.
The DGNB special award Ecolabel focuses on the ecological aspects of building certification. Accordingly, it focuses primarily on the active contribution to climate protection and climate adaptation through the promotion of biodiversity, a compatible microclimate and energy generation from renewable sources in the vicinity of the building, as well as the avoidance of CO2 emissions during the construction and operation of the building. Another focus is on resource conservation and circularity in terms of energy, water and building products through the use of circular construction methods. In addition, the special award focuses on accessibility and socially and environmentally compatible mobility.
The specifications for the special award are laid down in weighting tables specifically for this award (see below).
The DGNB special Ecolabel is only awarded to applicants who have registered with HafenCity Hamburg GmbH and the DGNB. The award is granted in two stages: initial certification and recertification, the former relating to new construction and the latter to the operation of the building. Only after successful recertification is the DGNB special award Ecolabel fully and permanently valid.
The DGNB System for the construction of new buildings and buildings in use is rated according to degrees of fulfilment. The total performance index is calculated from the evaluation of the individual criteria. The highest award is the Platinum certificate. In order to receive the DGNB's special award Ecolabel, all the individual requirements listed in the weighting tables must be met. These relate mainly to individual indicators, but also to the total performance index of the certificate on which they are based ("New Construction" and "Buildings in Use").
An overview of the main requirements can also be found in the German brochure "Nachhaltiges Bauen: Gebäudezertifizierung in den vier Gebieten Gebäudezertifizierung in den vier Gebieten HafenCity, Billebogen, Grasbrook und Science City Hamburg Bahrenfeld" by the HafenCity Hamburg.
Validity of the award for new buildings
The DGNB special award Ecolabel is valid for four years from the date of award by HafenCity Hamburg as part of the initial certification of the new building.
The certificate issued by the DGNB for the construction of the new building at the respective award level is valid indefinitely.
Validity of the Building in Use award
The special award in the course of the subsequent recertification, i.e. the certificate for buildings in use, is valid indefinitely from the time it is awarded by HafenCity Hamburg.
The Certificate for Buildings in Use, which is awarded at the same time by the DGNB in the respective award level achieved, is valid for three years and can be extended by a regular DGNB recertification.
The assessment for the DGNB special award Ecolabel is included in the DGNB certification fees. The current fee schedule applies.
Note: Fee costs for auditor services are not included in the certification fees. The costs for auditor services are highly project-dependent. Please discuss these with your DGNB Auditor.
Before you can register your project for the DGNB special award Ecolabel, you must first draw up a requirements specification. This "requirements specification of sustainability requirements" documents the project-specific objectives and conceptual approaches. The requirements specification also serves as preparation for the architectural competition, in which the conceptual sustainability considerations are included.
Note: Unless otherwise agreed, the requirements specification is to be regarded as a working tool for the building owner. It does not replace the requirements of the DGNB special award Ecolabel.
As soon as HafenCity Hamburg has given its approval, the project can be registered with the DGNB for certification according to the DGNB System for New Construction and for Buildings In Use.
The DGNB carries out the certification process for the DGNB special award Ecolabel in accordance with the regular certification procedures , from the application to the conformity check.
As part of the certification process, sustainability parameters have to be repeatedly calculated and sub-concepts developed. Some data and documents have to be made available to HafenCity Hamburg during the design and construction phase. By analysing this data, HafenCity Hamburg gains insights into the adaptation of sustainability requirements.
Note: Project data is communicated via so-called project profiles. Details are set out in the agreement with HafenCity Hamburg GmbH.
For the conformity check as part of the DGNB Certification of the new construction, the complete documentation has to be submitted to the DGNB. Once the DGNB has examined the documents, it will provide HafenCity Hamburg with information on the conformity of the examined project with the requirements of the DGNB special award Ecolabel.
Certification of the new construction
If the result of the audit is positive and all project specifications are complete, HafenCity Hamburg awards the DGNB special award Ecolabel in the form of a temporary certificate. If there is no certification of the building operation, the DGNB special award Ecolabel is valid for four years from the date of issue.
In addition to the special award, the applicant also receives the DGNB Certificate in the respective award level achieved. This is valid indefinitely.
For the conformity check as part of the DGNB Certification for Buildings In Use, the complete documentation has to be submitted to the DGNB. The DGNB carries out the certification process for the DGNB special award Ecolabel as part of the regular assessment process.
After the DGNB has examined the documentation, it provides HafenCity Hamburg with information on the conformity of the examined project with the requirements of the DGNB special award Ecolabel. If the result of the audit is positive and the final project profile is complete, the project is awarded the DGNB special award Ecolabel by HafenCity Hamburg. With re-certification, the DGNB special award Ecolabel is permanently valid.
In addition, the applicant receives the DGNB Certificate in the respective award level achieved. A DGNB Certificate for a Building In Use is valid for three years and can be extended by regular DGNB re-certification. Click here for more information.
The 6 key steps are also summarised in a compact form in the following guide (in German). Download
Weighting table for new construction | DGNB special award Ecolabel
Weighting table for Buildings in Use | DGNB special award Ecolabel
As a planning and optimisation tool, the DGNB System helps to increase the real sustainability in the construction and operation of buildings. It is based on a holistic understanding of sustainability that includes the environment, people and economic efficiency.