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Berlin, 19.10.2020

Socially responsible climate action in the property sector is achievable – and time is running out. That was the principle behind the event at the Axica Conference and Convention Center on Pariser Platz in Berlin’s Mitte district. Professor Michael Voigtländer, economist at the Cologne-based German Economic Institute, presented the academic research on Deutsche Wohnen’s concept for how climate action in the property sector can be achieved in a socially responsible way for tenants and owner-occupiers.

“We must unite the interests of tenants and landlords alike – with a scheme that sensibly combines the aspects of climate action, economic viability and social responsibility.” Germany can achieve its climate goals by investing EUR 500 billion more in building refurbishment by 2050. This would reduce CO2 emissions in the property sector from the current level of 121 million tonnes per year to 74 million tonnes in 2030 and 33 million tonnes in 2050.

“The dilemma between climate action and living costs can be resolved, as our concept for socially responsible climate action shows,” says Michael Zahn, Chief Executive Officer of Deutsche Wohnen. Achieving our climate goals is one of the biggest challenges of our time. A huge challenge along the way is building acceptance of energy-related refurbishment. Solutions are needed.

Tenants’ modernization levy of up to 8% of the costs should be partly covered by the Energy and Climate Fund (Energie- und Klimafonds, EKF). This special fund was set up by the federal government to support measures including climate action. This helps relieve tenants and owner-occupiers of the investment costs of modernization.

“Only when we can convince citizens that climate action doesn’t need to lead to cost more, can we get up to speed in this area,” says Zahn. The current refurbishment rate of 1% annually will soon need to rise to 2.5% in order to make the property sector climate-neutral. This would require broad societal acceptance of the relevant concepts. 

In his keynote speech, Professor Dirk Messner, President of the German Environment Agency, highlighted the urgent need to introduce effective climate action concepts in the property sector. After all, this is responsible for 35% of end energy use and around 30% of CO2 emissions.

Professor Michael Otto, Chair of the Board of Trustees at Stiftung 2° – German Businesses for Climate Protection, also addressed conference attendees with a personal video message from Hamburg and spoke in favour of the concept’s benefits and intensifying our efforts to combat climate change.

This issue was then discussed in depth at a round table hosted by property journalist Miriam Beul. Joining Michael Zahn and Professor Michael Voigtländer on the panel were Dr Jan-Marco Luczak (Member of Parliament, CDU), Christian Kühn (Member of Parliament, Alliance 90/The Greens), Sabine Nallinger (Stiftung 2°) and Michael Lowak, CEO of the energy company GETEC Group.

In 2019, Deutsche Wohnen made moves in this direction and invested EUR 470 million in maintenance and refurbishment of its portfolio. This will continue in the coming years, irrespective of whether the concept gains political traction or not.

The conference was a hybrid event due to the current circumstances. Visitors’ safety on site was ensured at all times by a carefully designed coronavirus safety concept. Plenty of space and masks for everyone guaranteed the safety of all attendees. In addition, Deutsche Wohnen allowed people to attend the event via YouTube live stream. The video is also available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hjhzoc9IYNs.

You can see a short summary in the following video.

Impressions from the conference (German)

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