Chart of the Month May: Huge Challenges for Old Buildings

Chart of the Month
09.05.2023 Autor/en: Margo Lange

Around 95 % of residential buildings are more than ten years old. Transforming these into zero-emission buildings by 2050 is causing headaches for all involved.

The players in the real estate industry know it: buildings are huge CO2 emitters, both in their construction and in their operation. 40% of final energy consumption and 36% of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions originate in buildings. Around 75% of all existing buildings (i.e. not only flats) are not energy efficient and need large-scale energy renovation. This makes the real estate sector a key sector for achieving the UN climate goals and limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees by 2050. The integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria will be one of the determining factors in the real estate and investment market in the future, which is also increasingly demanded by regulation.

Existing residential buildings must be transformed into zero-emission buildings by 2050, and non-residential buildings must meet certain energy performance thresholds by 2034. By 2033, energy standard D is to be achieved for all buildings. The chart of the month impressively shows how much work is ahead for the sector: Residential buildings constructed after 2011 are expected to have comparatively positive A+, A and B parameters. However, these only account for 7% of the total residential building stock.

The transformation of existing properties into ESG-compliant assets is the main task for portfolio owners and property managers in the coming years, as they have an enormous need for retrofitting. Portfolio transformation entails a high volume of investment, which, however, has a more future-proof effect in the long term and can lead to an increase in value as well as higher rental income. Political and social risks as well as the danger of sanctions and increased costs in case of non-transformation are thus avoided. The life cycle assessment of a property is essential in this context. However, the measurability and evaluation of existing properties is currently still difficult, as older buildings often do not have the necessary data basis. The objective of sustainable portfolio transformation is also not yet fully defined in the taxonomy and other specifications.


Contact person: Margo Lange, Consultant in Housing and Project Manager Sustainability at bulwiengesa,

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