In addition to high-quality construction and the use of sustainable materials, good design is crucial for the sustainability quality of our built environment. This is the only way to create long-lasting architecture that is accepted and enjoyed by the broad mass of the population. In this sense, the DGNB understands Baukultur as an integral part of sustainability. Numerous offers and activities of the DGNB pay attention to this topic.
In order to promote the architectural quality and durability of buildings, the DGNB offers the assessment of these aspects in a separate process in addition to certification: the DGNB Diamond. In this process, a building project is examined and assessed for its design and architectural quality. The central component of the assessment is an on-site inspection with members of DGNB's Commission for Design Quality. The overriding criteria considered are appropriateness and timelessness, the context with the urban integration and the open spaces, the design of the project and the quality of the floor plan. The evaluation criteria were developed in an intensive process together with the German Federal Chamber of Architects (BAK), the Association of German Architects (BDA) and other experts from architecture, urban planning and engineering.
Together with the German Sustainability Award Foundation, the DGNB has been awarding the German Sustainability Award for Architecture, Germany's most important architecture prize for sustainable buildings, since 2013. Awards are given to projects that combine innovation, sustainability and high architectural quality in an exemplary way. The award shows how the building sector can effectively meet the great challenges of our time.
An important component around the topic of Baukultur is the Phase Sustainability initiative (Phase Nachhaltigkeit), which the DGNB launched in 2019 together with the German Federal Chamber of Architects. It is directed at architects of all disciplines and specialist planners of all associated disciplines. The aim is to achieve a transformation of planning practice towards sustainability as the new normal through a solidarity of the planning community. Instead of just signing another climate manifesto, the participating offices commit to pushing the most important sustainability issues in their discussions with clients. The core component of the initiative is the Sustainability Declaration (Deklaration Nachhaltigkeit). This is intended to support the definition of individual project goals and priorities between planners and clients for each project from the start of planning.
In its association work, the DGNB is also pertnering with numerous organisations at national and international level on the subject of Baukultur. For example, every year at the Expo Real real estate and investor trade fair, the DGNB participates in a joint stand with the German Chamber of Architects and the Federal Foundation of Baukultur. For a while, this took place under the motto "Sustainable Baukultur". For some years now, the joint trade fair appearance has been under the motto "Quality in Planning, Building the Future" (Qualität planen, Zukunft bauen).
Other cooperative activities of the DGNB in the field of Baukultur include membership of the supporting association of the Federal Foundation of Baukultur, partnership in the New European Bauhaus initiative and collaboration with the IBA'27, the International Building Exhibition of the Stuttgart Region.
In addition, the DGNB is involved in the Davos Baukultur Alliance, which was founded in 2023. DGNB President Prof. Amandus Samsøe Sattler is a member of the Steering Committee of the exchange platform, in which around 50 ministries of culture, governmental and non-governmental organisations and business enterprises are involved as partners.