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Minimum energy efficiency standards for rental buildings in Germany – untapping health benefits

Panel: 7. Make buildings policies great again

This is a peer-reviewed paper.

Authors:
Sibyl Steuwer, BPIE, Germany
Andreas Jahn, The Regulatory Assistance Project, Germany
Jan Rosenow, The Regulatory Assistance Project, Belgium

Abstract

German building politics is in crisis. Despite ambitious sectoral climate protection targets in the building sector designed to reach the Paris Agreement, there is no political will to establish the required new and radical policy approaches that would untap the win-win potential of energy renovation. On the contrary, the connection of energy efficiency improvements in the building sector with multiple benefits are widely set aside – if not ignored by the German government.

The paper examines beneficial health effects of energy renovation for low-income households and proposes the introduction of minimum energy efficiency standards for rental buildings to untap this potential. It draws upon a previous literature review carried out in early 2018 on the connection between energy poverty and building types as well as on health benefits of building renovation with a focus on Germany. The literature review has been followed by a stakeholder dialogue and respective feedback loop. This is used to refine and update the desktop research. Ideas for designing minimum energy standards for rental buildings are further developed based on lessons-learnt form country case studies (esp. France, UK, NL, Flanders).

Despite a considerable lack in data availability, the results show that:

– Energy poverty affects health. This is also a relevant problem in Germany.

– Tenants who live in buildings constructed before 1980 that have poor energy performance are particularly affected.

– Energy poverty has structural causes that cannot be adequately addressed by social policy measures alone.

– Minimum energy performance standards for rental buildings can help increase the rate of deep renovations, reduce energy poverty and mitigate health problems associated with poor housing conditions.

– The introduction of minimum standards for rental buildings should be accompanied by a financing model and complementary measures to achieve the desired effects and prevent the displacement of tenants.

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