Framework for “carbon-neutral buildings and sites”

Framework for “carbon-neutral buildings and sites”

Aim of the framework

The aim of this framework for carbon-neutral buildings and sites is to make implementing the Paris Agreement achievable in the environment we build around ourselves and to enable this to be gauged on specific projects. In addition, application of this framework is intended to provide a reliable basis for making decisions regarding resource allocation for projects geared towards climate protection, in order to channel cost-efficient investments into future-proof buildings.

The DGNB aims to significantly contribute towards achieving carbon-neutral operation for a significant proportion of buildings as quickly as possible. This requires a clear definition of the term "carbon-neutral building operation" as regards accounting processes and the target value. The long-term objective – which is much more important – is to significantly contribute towards making all housing stock carbon-neutral by 2050. This requires the cooperation of all stakeholders, suitable instruments and effective incentives. The framework is freely available to anyone with an interest in the topic and is designed to move the discussion away from questions relating to "why?" and "how should the evaluation be performed?" towards specific action and to the question of "what must I specifically do?" The framework is intended to reveal unexploited potential and lead the parties involved to a shared objective in order to:

  • Achieve a massive increase in the rate of buildings being renovated into emission-free buildings,
  • Exhaust all organisational measures taken by operators and in facility management,
  • Encourage users to take action to implement climate protection in their buildings and
  • Generate added value for the national economy and private sector by supporting and laying down requirements for making cost-efficient investments in existing buildings.

The DGNB wants to make carbon-neutral new buildings the standard as quickly as possible – without waiting until 2030. In addition, the DGNB has a vision that operation of existing building stock will be fully carbon-neutral by 2050, with the exception of listed buildings. And the DGNB's third priority is to achieve extensive carbon neutrality in construction activities for new buildings and renovated buildings, in other words to reduce the "embodied CO2 emissions" in construction materials and construction products.

Elements of the framework

This framework consists of three main elements:

  • Part 1: Rules for CO2 accounting of buildings ("carbon accounting rules")
  • Part 2: Rules for CO2 reporting of buildings ("carbon disclosure rules")
  • Part 3: CO2 management method and climate protection roadmap ("carbon management rules")


The main elements can be applied separately and in line with the requirements and objective. Part 1 addresses energy planners and other specialist planners and includes the calculation specifications that are to be implemented for consistent CO2 accounting. Part 2 builds on the content of Part 1 and describes the minimum requirements for reporting on and communicating the results calculated in Part 1.Part 3 is the key element for predicting future CO2 emissions with changing general conditions. It is the basis for producing a valid roadmap that defines renovation measures, modernisation measures or operational optimisation measures for the building and displays them in the form of calculated results. According to the definition at the beginning of this docu - ment, a building can be designated "carbon-neutral by 2050" if it has not yet achieved carbon neutrality but a carbon protection roadmap is in place which aims to achieve carbon neutrality and convincingly and correctly demonstrates that the CO2 emissions are below the annual limit values.

 Read the framework for "carbon-neutral buildings and sites" in full length


Dr. Anna Braune
Director Research and Development
Phone: +49 711 722322-67
a.braune at dgnb.de

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