More government control over private property…bureaucrats should decide whether to demolish or to build new, environmental groups demand.
Symbol image cropped here.
– Nearly 14,090 buildings are demolished every year in Germany, the number of unreported cases is significantly higher
– Building ministries of the countries need to prioritize renovation and conversion of existing buildings instead of new construction
(Berlin, 12.12.2022) Every year, tens of thousands of buildings are demolished and rebuilt instead of being renovated. This places an enormous burden on the climate and resources, and in many cases destroys affordable living space. In view of the continuing demolition mania, the Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) and Architects4Future (A4F) are sounding the alarm. Together with AF4, the DUH environmental and consumer protection association is calling on the building ministers of the federal states to anchor a mandatory demolition permit so that buildings can only be demolished if demolition and new construction are actually more ecological than renovation. Until then, the associations are calling for a demolition moratorium.
Demolitions must stop
DUH Federal Director Barbara Metz: “The existing building is always the most climate-friendly. Through the currently prevailing demolition mania, not only valuable resources are lost, but also the climate is enormously burdened and urgently needed affordable living space is eliminated. The German government is standing idly by and encouraging this absurd practice. What we need is a paradigm shift toward building in existing structures. Renovation, conversion, reuse and expansion must become the new normal, and demolition the exception. The building ministers of the federal states must act now and anchor a demolition permit requirement for buildings in the model building code and the state building codes. Until this is done, the demolition excavators must stand still. We need an immediate demolition moratorium!”
Owners shouldn’t be allowed to decide
Under current building law, there are hardly any legal requirements or conditions for demolitions in any federal state. Owners can decide on demolition or redevelopment at their own discretion, without any independent and transparent review of environmental and climate impacts.
“false financial incentives”
In addition, there are false financial incentives for new construction instead of redevelopment, conversion and rebuilding, as well as the misconception among the public that demolition and new construction, for example, are more ecological than the refurbishment of existing buildings. To address this gap, DUH has published a paper with key facts about the negative effects of demolition and new construction on climate, environment and resources.
Building transformation must accompany energy transformation
Michael Wicke, A4F Coordinator Building in Existing Contexts: “Instead of tearing down and replacing existing structures, we need to treat our existing stock respectfully and creatively and develop it further in an ecological, smart and appreciative way. Before it comes to new construction, it is important to use all the potential in the existing stock: Conversion, refurbishment, repurposing, vacancy upgrading, adding storeys and partial extensions. Cities, municipalities and, above all, the federal government must now analyze the potential of their existing stock and leverage and efficiently develop it as quickly as possible. In order to accelerate the change, we have made proposals for a model conversion code and submitted them to the ministries of the federal states and the Federal Ministry of Construction. Without the building transformation, the necessary climate and resource transformation cannot be achieved.”
Construction waste 10 times more than packaging waste
According to the Federal Statistical Office, around 14,090 buildings were demolished in 2021 alone – the estimated number of unreported cases is significantly higher. Per year, Germany produces around 2.76 tons of construction waste per capita, while packaging waste is 227.5 kilograms per person.
Ten percent of Germany’s total CO2 emissions are caused by the manufacture, construction and disposal of buildings and construction products alone. The DUH has long been promoting a consideration of the building in all phases of its life cycle – manufacture, construction, use and disposal – in order to exploit all CO2 savings potential in the construction and building sector to achieve climate targets.