In 2016, the DGNB organised its Sustainability Challenge for the first time. What began on a small scale is now a highly respected sustainability competition, with numerous entries every year. Since 2019, the non-profit association has awarded this innovation prize in three categories: "Innovation", "Start-up" and "Research".
Start-up company STRAMEN.TEC has developed and launched a studless dry construction system based on the rapidly renewable raw material straw. Thanks to the lignin contained in the straw, the addition of other binding agents is not necessary. The wall modules can be reused and returned to the production process at the end of their service life.
Aerogel-it develops high-performance insulation materials made from bioaerogels or biomineral aerogels, which are thinner and lighter than conventional insulation materials while providing high thermal insulation performance. The highly porous solids are made from plant materials, such as lignin, which store carbon and are recyclable.
The Colony is a start-up that creates community places with a social-ecological approach on vacant land or unused buildings. The idea is to combine living, working and entertainment in modular settlements with solid wood construction houses on special sites that have been unused so far.
Smarter Habitat has developed a building panel made from expanded industrial maize for insulation and from natural fibre laminates. The building material is made from regional raw materials and is a scalable alternative to CO2-intensive building materials in dry construction.
Carbocon has developed CARBOrefit, a process that uses the resource-efficient building material carbon concrete to increase the load-bearing capacity and durability of existing buildings and bridges. The building material enables the refurbishment of structures that would otherwise not be able to be redeveloped using conventional methods.
With "Team-Up4Sustainability", EN2RE offers a digital platform that enables companies to finance the renovation of their building stock with the help of employee shares. This can provide the necessary equity capital for a PV system, for example, and accelerate the transformation in teamwork with the workforce.
Together with ZRS Architects, Bruno Fioretti Marquez, the University of Stuttgart and the Technical University of Braunschweig, the TU Berlin has launched a pilot project on sustainable rental housing. Using timber-and-clay and brick-and-timber buildings as models, the research project is investigating robust, recyclable and low-tech construction methods for affordable rental housing.
The University of Wuppertal has developed a gutting and demolition cost index for buildings. The database provides information on the costs and material quantities involved in a potential deconstruction. The index thus increases cost certainty and enables better risk assessment of deconstruction projects.
The NuKoS research project of the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT uses a waste product from steel production, known as steelworks slag, in the production of masonry bricks. It replaces conventional binders with a high CO2 footprint. In addition, the curing process permanently binds CO2 into the bricks.
As part of his master's thesis, a student at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) has developed a practical tool for the life cycle assessment of renovation measures for residential buildings. The tool allows the potential greenhouse gas emissions of different construction measures to be identified at an early stage and construction methods to be optimised.
Under the name "HopfON", two students at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have developed acoustic and thermal insulation panels as well as building boards for interior construction from hop harvest waste. The aim is to expand the range of recyclable building materials from local waste products and reduce the ecological footprint of the construction industry.
The start-up company mygreentop, founded in 2020, promises a practical and cost-effective green roof for private and commercial customers. To this end, the Plettenberg-based company has developed the mygreentop roof planting tile. This can be replaced with existing roof tiles or retrofitted as an attachment.
Berlin-based alcemy offers AI-powered software for predictive quality control in cement and concrete production, which can reduce clinker content and thus the carbon footprint. The software runs both in the cement plant and in the truck mixer travelling to the construction site, collecting data in real time around the clock, making predictions and intervening in production where possible.
Stuttgart-based TRIQBRIQ AG produces and distributes the TRIQBRIQ solid wood construction system. The standardised wooden building blocks are made from weak and damaged wood and, thanks to a dowel connection system, can be produced quickly and without artificial fasteners, assembled and disassembled according to type and completely reused.
Picea from HPS is the world's first hydrogen-based electricity storage system for buildings available on the market. The surplus energy generated by a solar system on sunny days is stored as green hydrogen and made available in the form of electricity and heat during the darker months of the year. Picea provides CO2-free electricity all year round.
Madaster's digital building resource passport documents the materials and components used in a building, enabling financial and lifecycle assessment and carbon footprint calculation at material and building level. This is done by capturing information on the materials and components of a building, including BIM models.
MeshClimate from UNDKRAUSS and other partners is an ultra-thin, recirculating and flexible floor and ceiling heating or cooling system. The system is installed directly on the existing screed. The honeycomb structure of the climate panel offers full-surface heating or cooling performance without a heat distribution layer in all installation situations - whether floor, wall or ceiling.
In Indonesia, Fairventures Worldwide gGmbH and Fairventures Social Forestry GmbH have tested a lightweight timber construction system made from Sengon wood, a particularly fast-growing and locally available tree species. The construction system is designed to promote the reforestation of cleared rainforest areas and contribute to carbon reduction, biodiversity and social justice.
A new class of bio-based, resource-efficient and CO2-negative materials called "NEWood" has emerged from the Karlsruhe project. The wood alternative is developed from available organic waste and produced using fungal mycelium as a natural binder.
The DLR project will develop a prototype system based on the chemical reaction of slaked lime and demonstrate it in the field for the first time: Excess renewable electricity is used to burn slaked lime, which can store the energy for months without loss. On contact with water, the energy is released and can be used for heating.
SenseLab, a multidisciplinary research project at the Technical University of Munich, records and processes the biometric data of room users in real time. This makes it possible to objectively determine the effect of an environment on the human body. In the long term, this will enable energy and cost savings through dynamic, decentralised room climate concepts adapted to individual needs.
As part of the Solar Decathlon competition, the interdisciplinary student team levelup from the Technical University of Rosenheim is developing a concept for the energetic renovation of existing buildings and the addition of storeys using timber module construction. In addition, the team will build a representative, fully functional residential unit on a scale of 1:1. Only recycled and recyclable materials will be used for the project.
This project by students at the Bauhaus University in Weimar, Germany, will create a convertible and deconstructible pavilion made entirely from reclaimed and donated materials from Weimar's municipal mine. The aim is not only to examine the obstacles and prejudices of circular construction, but also to make the reused components tangible within an exhibition of stories.
Concular closes material loops from building to building every day. With intelligent brokerage, life cycle assessment and a circular supply chain, reuse becomes simple, economical and measurable. Concular is not just software - it is an appreciation of materials, buildings and the environment. Telling the stories behind materials to enrich new buildings is Conculars mission. In the process, millions of tonnes of CO2, waste and resources are saved.
Building materials that store CO2 instead of producing it: This is made possible by carbonauten GmbH, founded in 2017. The Giengen-based start-up is developing materials based on negative emission technology that actively reduce CO2. They are based on biocarbons from biomass residues.
Founded in 2018, start-up ecoworks is developing a holistic renovation system for the carbon-neutral, serial renovation of existing residential buildings. In the future, on-site renovations will take no longer than 2 weeks to minimise disruption to tenants. The first serial renovation of 12 apartments will be successfully completed in Hameln in 2021.
Flooring manufacturer Interface is launching its Embodied Beauty™ collection of three carbon negative carpet tiles that can reduce the carbon footprint of building projects.
AMPEERS ENERGY supports the transformation of carbon reduction in real estate into profitable business models by enabling the owner to implement cross-sector energy optimisation or tenant electricity models easily and profitably with intelligent software solutions.
The Hungarian company Terran has developed a roof tile called Generon that combines the protective function of roof tiles with the use of solar energy. The special feature: The photovoltaic cells are integrated into the surface of the individual roof tiles in such a way that they are virtually indistinguishable from conventional roof tiles.
Researchers at the University of Wuppertal have developed the Urban Mining Index (UMI), a planning tool for circular construction. The UMI aims to keep building materials in as closed a cycle as possible and makes the quality of the reuse of valuable and waste materials in buildings quantitatively measurable.
How can architecture be optimised so that it requires as little technology as possible to create a comfortable indoor climate? This question is the focus of research at the Technical University of Munich. The aim is to reduce the complexity of building and to design houses that are easy to build and easy to use.
The ge3TEX research project at the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences has developed recyclable composite materials made from textiles and foams from the same material groups, as well as the corresponding manufacturing processes for foaming 3D textiles into unmixed components for the building envelope.
As part of the Terra Vermelha research project, students at the Technical University of Berlin developed a concept for sustainable favela architecture. The focus was on the use of wood and clay. In the course of their project, they translated these 'low-tech' building methods into a modern context and developed a hybrid wood-loam architecture.
EPCs goal is to supply entire settlements and districts with heat from renewable energy sources. To this end, it develops renewable energy concepts - mostly using a so-called cold local heating network in combination with near-surface geothermal energy. By bundling heat generation and using heat pumps as standard equipment, these systems are suitable for supplying and marketing entire settlements.
Clean air thanks to small sensors and artificial intelligence: this is Breeze Technologies. Based in Hamburg, Germany, Breeze's goal is to use high-resolution air quality and climate data, as well as artificial intelligence, to identify, implement and monitor data-driven decisions to reduce air pollution.
Ricehouse: the name says it all. The Piedmontese start-up uses organic residues from rice production to develop 100% natural building materials that return to nature at the end of their life. The company creates short supply chains and optimises efficiency from the field to the building site.
One solution for all your indoor climate needs: The climate light offers thermal, acoustic and visual comfort in one. The innovation from interpanel is a modular, acoustically effective chilled ceiling that is independent of light, heating and dew point. Intelligent control ensures good acoustics, daylight-oriented workplace lighting and a comfortable temperature.
Every building needs to be protected from sewage back-up. Hybrid lifting units set new standards in economy and ecology.
Four life cycles without major loss of materials and raw materials, that's what Minero One promises: an ecological, mineral floor with a natural wood and stone look from Minero Flooring. Made from more than 98% natural materials, it can be recycled and reused at the end of its first life cycle.
As part of the EU-funded research project RE4, ZRS Architects and 12 other partners across the EU have developed a detailed design for a fully prefabricated, circular, energy-efficient, seven-storey residential building. Reusable building components or recycled materials will be used. The special features: The concept is transferable to other building typologies. The demonstration building in Madrid was 90% non-destructively deconstructed.
How do façades react to noise? The research project of the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences in cooperation with the Environmental Office of the City of Frankfurt has tested this. The effect of the acoustic reflection behaviour of façades in urban spaces was analysed under real conditions using a mobile façade laboratory. The findings are used to evaluate the acoustic effects of façade surfaces depending on the location. The measurement procedure developed for this purpose serves as a design tool for planning and implementing quieter urban districts.
Greater precision, expanded design options and greater economic efficiency: these are the benefits to be gained from robot-assisted production of rammed earth structural components. This is the focus of a research project by the Institute for Structural Design (ITE) at the Technical University of Braunschweig, which is funded by the Future Construction research initiative. The aim is to automate and reduce the size of the production process in order to create an economical and practical method for the decentralised production of rammed earth.
A special student prize was awarded for the first time. This went to the re.create project by twelve students from the Technical University of Munich, the Technical University of East Bavaria and the International Real Estate Business School Regensburg. With their building design, they developed a vision for sustainable urban living that requires a sensitive use of resources.
DAW offers glazes and wood oils based on gold of pleasure. The crop is grown in mixed cropping with peas. This not only increases the overall yield of the area, but also strengthens the ecosystem and biodiversity in many ways.
INTEWA's decentralised system solution enables drinking water savings of up to 95 per cent. An innovative membrane technology for the treatment of rainwater and grey water creates a virtually closed water cycle.
The strohlos panels, which can be used in a variety of ways in the construction industry, are made from annual renewable raw materials such as straw, hemp, rapeseed or reed. All boards are recyclable, free of formaldehyde and water-resistant.
Green Hydrogen Esslingen is building and operating a power-to-gas plant as the centrepiece of the climate-neutral Esslingen Weststadt district. Green hydrogen will be used for mobility, industry and reverse power supply.
As a "virtual warehouse" for building materials, the online platform materialrest24.de offers craftsmen the opportunity to digitally record their unused stock and sell it conveniently. At the same time, they can buy the building materials they need in the right quantities at a reasonable price.
Vilisto's digital, self-learning heat management system for non-residential buildings recognises the usage patterns and building parameters of individual rooms for fully automatic, predictive and demand-based control of radiators.
The BauCycle project is researching a holistic recycling strategy for construction waste and its fine fraction. It has developed an optical process for sorting heterogeneous construction waste down to a grain size of 1 mm. In addition, high-value products have been manufactured from the construction waste.
- Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics IBP
- Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics
- Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT
- Fraunhofer Institute of Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB
The Agricultural Lighting Facade enables year-round vegetable growing behind glass facades in buildings. It can be integrated into new and existing facades and makes optimal use of solar radiation in combination with adaptive LED assimilation lighting to ensure photosynthesis of the plants.
- Technical University of Munich (TUM)
- Architecture Research Incubator
- Professorship for Green Technologies in Landscape Architecture, Prof. Ferdinand Ludwig
- Greenhouse Laboratory Centre Dürnast, research facility of the Science Centre Weihenstephan of the TUM
- Chair of Spatial Art and Lighting Design, Prof. Hannelore Deubzer
- Engineering office Hausladen GmbH
- Barthelme LED Solutions
- Project management Mariana Yordanova
The research and development project developed a modular, prefabricated material and construction system for interior design. It consists of 100 per cent renewable raw materials and uses myzelium as a novel, fast-growing bio-composite material.
- Arup Deutschland GmbH
- ARDEX GmbH
- MOGU S.r.l.
The filter system from EXERGENE® Technologie GmbH makes it possible to restore and maintain drinking water hygiene without the use of chemicals or thermal energy. It is based on ultrafiltration. With the help of tiny pores, all undissolved substances are removed from the water purely mechanically.
The research project developed a method to recycle and segregate carbon concrete components. The aim was to keep all materials from demolition, dismantling and recycling in the economic cycle and, in the best case, to recycle them into new components.
The Botanic Horizon vertical garden system from BOXOM and B+M Textil consists of seed-filled cords and a vertical irrigation system. In addition to the variety of plant combinations, it differs from conventional façade greening in that it is versatile, flexible to install and easy to dismantle.
DACHFARM Berlin, a start-up company, is developing building-integrated rooftop farms under glass in greenhouses to exploit the potential of unused building and rooftop areas for professional crop production and participatory community gardens. The farms are space, resource, energy and carbon efficient.
CAALA is a cloud-based energy pre-dimensioning and parametric life cycle analysis software. It provides integrated feedback on energy demand, life cycle assessment and compliance with relevant guidelines. Variants can be generated, compared and visually communicated to the client in the early design phase without additional effort.
Space is becoming a scarce and expensive resource in many cities. The aim of the research project is therefore to achieve a more efficient use of existing inner-city spaces through multiple use. In particular, the project will demonstrate the potential and feasibility of space sharing in order to initiate a sustainable use of the resource of space.