The term biodiversity describes the diversity of ecosystems, the diversity of species and the genetic diversity within a species. A broad diversity is important for intact ecosystems of a wide variety of animal and plant species and functioning cycles, such as the purification of water by microorganisms, on which humans are just as dependent as other living creatures. However, if humans intervene actively in nature, e.g. by deforesting rainforests, biodiversity can be reduced considerably and the natural stability of biodiversity lost. This loss of stability causes diseases and epidemics, among other things.
Carbon footprint generally refers to a balance sheet showing the total amount of CO2 emissions caused by activity(ies), a product or people.
Several levels can be defined as part of a building’s carbon footprint: one can calculate the CO2 footprint holistically, along the complete life cycle of the building, or - in terms of the current contribution - determine the CO2 footprint for ongoing operation. The holistic approach also includes CO2 emissions that occur for the production of building materials and the operation until demolition or dismantling. Usually, however, the CO2 footprint of a building refers to its operation. It is also used to compare the climate impact of buildings: the lower the CO2 footprint, the better the building can be classified in relation to climate targets. Accounting follows the basic principles of the Greenhouse Gas Protocol.
The principle of the circular economy strives for closed material and resource cycles. The aim is to return all waste to the cycle and use it again and again as new resources. Waste in the true sense of the word is then no longer produced. The idea is not to make other inferior products from the waste (e.g. rags from old clothes), but to design the products from the outset in such a way that they can be broken down into their components again and used as new raw materials. This principle is also called "cradle-to-cradle". For the construction of buildings, this means that they can be dismantled easily and that individual components, materials and raw materials can be reused. The digital material passport for buildings will become increasingly important in the future for this purpose.
The term climate protection describes activities to counteract global warming, such as phasing out coal-based power generation and switching to renewable energies. The goal is to keep global warming to a maximum of 2 degrees as described in the Paris Climate Agreement. From a scientific point of view, however, the effects of global warming can no longer be completely stopped, but only mitigated and limited. Therefore, in parallel to reducing the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for warming, steps are also needed to adapt to the already unavoidable consequences of climate change (adaptation).These can be, for example, the construction of dykes and the strengthening of civil protection.
Decarbonisation describes the process of gradually reducing greenhouse gas emissions to achieve an economy that is as emission-free as possible. The background to this is the goal of greenhouse gas neutrality anchored in the Paris Climate Agreement, which is to be achieved in the second half of this century. The aim of a decarbonisation strategy is to reduce the CO2 emissions of a building to almost zero kg CO2 in balance sheet terms and thus to realise climate-neutral operation for the building. To achieve this, the CO2 footprint of the building is first determined on the basis of real consumption data and potential savings are identified. This is then used to derive measures such as switching to green electricity, installing photovoltaics or renewing various building components.
The term "energy efficiency" describes the ratio of energy yield (output) to energy being supplied (input). The lower the energy losses, the higher the energy efficiency. The goal is therefore to reduce energy losses to a minimum. At the EU level, this is regulated by Directive 2012/27/EU (Energy Efficiency Directive) of 25 October 2012, which prescribes, among other things, mandatory energy savings to realise the EU target of 20% higher energy efficiency compared to 2008. An increase in energy efficiency in the operation of buildings can be achieved, for example, by switching to efficient building technology (heating, ventilation and cooling), using efficient lighting or optimising façades.
To achieve the goals from the Paris Climate Agreement, the building sector uses a combination of energy efficiency measures and an improvement in the energy supply of buildings (on-site energy generation, green electricity, etc.). Cf. "Decarbonisation "
The EU Taxonomy Regulation is one of ten action points under the EU Action Plan for Financing Sustainable Growth. The first part of the Taxonomy Regulation entered into force on 1 January 2021.
The Taxonomy Regulation is a classification system that defines whether an economic activity is environmentally sustainable. In doing so, those sectors responsible for the majority of all direct greenhouse gas emissions in the EU have been prioritised. These include: "Forestry", "Environmental protection and restoration activities", "Manufacturing", "Energy", "Water supply, sewerage, waste management and remediation activities", "Transport", "Construction and real estate", "Information and communication" and "Professional, scientific and technical services". Individual activities are assessed, not the company as a whole.
For this purpose, six environmental objectives have been formulated so far, in which a significant ecological contribution of an activity can be made:
⦁ Climate protection,
⦁ adaptation to climate change,
⦁ sustainable use and protection of water and marine resources,
⦁ transition to a circular economy,
⦁ pollution prevention and control, and the
⦁ protection of ecosystems.
An activity is only considered environmentally sustainable if it contributes to one of the six objectives while not harming any of the others ("do no significant harm" principle). The taxonomy applies in principle to all financial products, but its application remains voluntary. Sustainable funds (according to Art. 8 and 9 of the Disclosure Regulation) will in future show the share of investments that comply with the taxonomy criteria. Funds not considered sustainable must disclose that they do not invest in accordance with the taxonomy. The concrete technical criteria for the first two environmental goals "climate protection" and "adaptation to climate change" will come into force from 2022; the criteria for the four other goals will follow in 2023.
Green electricity is not a protected term. It is usually understood to mean electrical energy from renewable sources such as photovoltaics, hydropower or wind power. Green electricity is usually almost emission-free, as emissions only occur in the production of the plants. There is no separate electricity grid for green electricity. Thus, all electricity providers feed their electricity into the same grid, regardless of whether they are nuclear or green electricity providers. Nevertheless, it makes sense to choose a green electricity provider because this increases the demand for renewable energy. Over time, this shifts the composition of electricity from nuclear and coal-fired power towards natural or green electricity. It also promotes investments in renewable technology.
Unlike natural gas and biogas, eco-gas is not a separate form of gas. The energy supplied usually comes from a mixture of biogas and natural gas but can also consist of 100% conventional natural gas. It earns the addition "eco" if the supplier compensates for the carbon dioxide produced by investing in climate protection projects.
Tenancy agreements are the basis for the relationship between landlord and tenant. They define the rights and obligations of both parties. Leases that include ESG-related topics and obligations are called "green leases". These may contain an entire paragraph on sustainability or address ESG issues with specific clauses.
Such ESG clauses could include waste separation, energy-efficient and water-saving equipment installations (e.g. LED lighting) or the purchase of green electricity by the tenant. Another important aspect is the information obligations agreed between tenant and landlord. These obligate the tenant to provide consumption data to enable the landlord to make an informed assessment of the total energy consumption and the carbon footprint of the building. The aim of green leases is a close exchange and efficient cooperation between both parties as well as the joint implementation of climate protection measures.
Green leases are an essential component of a sustainable property portfolio for Deka Immobilien. More information on green leases at Deka Immobilien can be found here.
The term "Health and well-being" focuses on the well-being and health of a building’s users. This includes not only high-quality, pollutant-free and environmentally friendly interior design, but also the acoustics and thermal comfort of the building. A view of nature or extensive planting also improve user quality. An offer of healthy food or sports and relaxation rooms in the building can also contribute to well-being. To ensure a high level of comfort in the long-term and a quick reaction time to changes, comfort parameters such as air humidity, CO2 content, temperature and pollutant content in rooms are monitored and evaluated continuously.
Renewable or regenerative energies are energy sources available to mankind in almost unlimited quantities or sources that regenerate within a very short time. These include sun and wind, but also bioenergy, geothermal energy, tidal energy and hydropower. The goal of the energy transition is the almost complete use of these energy sources and the renunciation of fossil fuels such as coal and gas, since fossil fuel use causes CO2 emissions, which are largely responsible for global warming.
For the building sector, there are two possibilities to use renewable energies actively. The first option is to purchase energy. This can be done, for example, through the targeted purchase of green electricity or by connecting to a renewable district or local heating network (e.g. with geothermal energy). The second option is the direct generation of electricity or heat from renewable energies at the site itself. For example, the use of photovoltaics on the roof, on the façade and/or in the outdoor facilities is suitable for this. Solar collectors or systems that use environmental energy (e.g. heat pumps powered by green electricity) could be used to generate heat.
The goal of the Paris Climate Agreement is to limit the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C compared to pre-industrial levels and to aim for a reduction to 1.5 °C. There is widespread consensus in climate research that if global warming is limited to 2 °C (already at 1.5 °C according to the 2018 Special Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)) compared to pre-industrial levels, dangerous human interference with the climate system can be avoided narrowly. It is assumed that if the two-degree limit is exceeded, the consequences of climate change could no longer be controlled. Weather extremes and other climate impacts would take on dangerous and barely manageable dimensions, and the economic costs would rise to unacceptably high levels.