"The developments in recent months have been extremely gratifying," states DGNB CEO Dr Christine Lemaitre. "Fifteen years after we were founded, we sense a shift in the topic of sustainability in construction, among many organisations, away from being more of a specialist topic to a strategic one. For many, engagement in this area through the DGNB is a logical and important step."
With more than 2000 members, the DGNB is Europe's biggest network for sustainable building, ranking second among green building councils worldwide. The DGNB brings architectural firms, planners and consultants together with construction companies, building owners, developers, firms in the building sector and the producers of building products. As an association that is all about working together and involvement, its members also include financial organisations, local authorities, clubs and federations.
"We bring together the kind of people who have grasped that there's no future for 'business as usual'," states Lemaitre, explaining the approach of the DGNB. "To our members, we offer a network for sharing, finding like-minded people and 'doing more by pulling together'." An increasing number of members are private individuals: currently, more than 150 DGNB members have chosen to take up so-called partial membership.
The work of the association focuses on knowledge-sharing. This is based on the overarching goal of the non-profit organisation, which is to promote sustainable building in all areas of society such that it becomes the new normal. The DGNB Academy has already trained more than 8000 people – in 45 countries – as experts in sustainable building. The number of course bookings in recent months has multiplied to several times the levels of previous years. The DGNB also works with roughly 90 universities to provide incentives within the fundamental concept of university education to engage in sustainable planning and building. This is underpinned by the work of the Wissensstiftung, a knowledge foundation co-initiated by the DGNB offering compact learning modules that can be applied directly to building practice. The DGNB has released numerous publications on sustainable building, also free of charge.
Two initiatives launched by the DGNB – 'Phase Sustainability' and 'Climate-Positive Cities and Communities' – promote knowledge exchange and the sharing of experiences within individual target groups, not only with architects and planning offices, but also among municipal authorities. In 2020, the DGNB joined forces with partner organisations in Denmark, France, Austria and Spain to found the Climate Positive Europe Alliance (CPEA) and offer access to a separate European organisation based in Brussels. The DGNB has also enjoyed international success with its certification for buildings and urban districts. Almost 10,000 projects have now been certified by the DGNB in roughly 30 countries.
What its members say about the DGNB
Prof. Amandus Samsøe Sattler (DGNB President, co-founder and owner of studio ensømble berlin):
"The DGNB came into being at a time when no-one really understood what sustainability meant for building. When you consider how far we've come with our work as an association, it's formidable. The best bit is that as a member of the DGNB there are ways for your own ideas to flow into thinking and make an impact."
Prof. Alexander Rudolphi (DGNB Founding President, Managing Director of Rudolphi + Rudolphi):
"Once again, the urgency and necessity of the tools that have been developed by the DGNB – as well as the foundation of knowledge it has pulled together – have intensified dramatically, especially over the last two years. The DGNB has been extremely successful over the past 15 years, thanks in part to the immense voluntary commitment of its members. But at the same time, a lot of work still lies in wait for us as a network."
Martin Haas (DGNB Vice President, Founder of haascookzemmrich STUDIO2050):
"One thing I've learnt from the DGNB is that it's important to do something rather than just talk about it. The DGNB has remained audacious over the years; it's passionate about innovation and it's a trailblazer of transformation."
Andrea Gebhard (member of the DGNB board of directors, President of the Federal Chamber of Architects):
"Where would we be today with the issue of sustainability without the DGNB? Time and again, the questions posed by the DGNB, but also the answers it offers, make it possible to find new points of leverage. The DGNB has evolved into an important driving force beyond domestic borders and together we're helping to shape transformation processes at all stages of the building value chain."