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Background paper for a buildings strategy for climate neutrality


Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection



Challenges for the buildings sector

By 2045, Germany, and thus the buildings sector, must become climate-neutral – as intended by the Federal Climate Protection Act. Along with the opening summary of climate protection in January 2022, the BMWK had announced the development of a buildings strategy for climate neutrality. The aim is to ensure the optimal interaction of policy instruments on energy efficiency in the buildings sector and heat generation from renewable energy sources.

A consortium of nine renowned research institutes has drawn up a background paper to provide scientific support for strategy development. The paper combines scientific findings on the climate neutrality of the buildings sector, identifies a total of twelve areas of action, and backs them up with concrete recommendations and measures.

Prognos coordinated the overall project and, as part of the scientific consortium, worked decisively on the target picture, the target scenario, and on individual groups of measures.

How can existing buildings become climate-neutral by 2045?

A central basis for the work was the analysis of existing scientific studies and transformation paths on the climate neutrality of Germany and the buildings sector. The analysis includes, among other things, the scenarios of the five major studies known as the “Big 5” of climate neutrality scenarios:

  • “Climate-neutral Germany 2045” – the Climate Neutrality Foundation, Agora Energiewende and Agora Verkehrswende
  • “Climate Paths 2.0 – An Economic Programme for Climate and Future” – the BDI
  • The German Energy Agency’s lead study on “Towards Climate Neutrality"
  • “Long-term scenarios for the transformation of the energy system in Germany” of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection (BMWK)
  • “Germany on the road to climate neutrality 2045” – the Copernicus project Ariadne, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

In addition, we have continuously integrated current scientific findings from the BMWK’s system development strategy into the work.

Climate-neutral building stock can be achieved with available technologies

On the basis of these evaluations, with our partners we have developed a qualitative target picture with which the buildings sector can achieve climate neutrality by 2045. The central insight of this process: The pressure to act is great and the scope for implementation is now reduced – especially for the intermediate goals for 2030. This is due to insufficient GHG savings in recent years.

The evaluation makes it clear:

  • Climate neutrality in the buildings sector can still be achieved by 2045 with existing technologies
  • Due to the long investment cycles in building stock, this already requires forward-looking policy instruments and clear regulations that create investment security for actors in the buildings sector
  • At the same time, the regulations must ensure that the necessary measures can be implemented in a socially acceptable manner
  • Due to the advanced hour, this requires very ambitious, partly disruptive, and well-coordinated policy measures in all identified areas of action
  • The transformation of the energy industry must continue to be pursued consistently in order to ensure the availability of GHG-neutral energy sources for heat supply

Proactive, reliable policy instruments, and clear regulations

A total of twelve areas of action for a climate-neutral building stock were derived from the target image. For these areas of action, the consortium has developed and assessed the impact of a set of policy instruments. With the help of Prognos’ energy system models, we have also exemplified the target picture and translated it into target figures for the central areas of action and policy instruments.

Due to the now rather limited time span until 2030 and 2045 respectively, the project team has concluded that there is an acute need for action in all areas examined:

  • Heat pump roll-out
  • Target-compliant building envelopes
  • Rational new construction
  • Connection to heating networks
  • Limitation of biomass use
  • GHG-neutral electricity in the building
  • Space-saving and energy-saving behaviour
  • Expansion of heat storage
  • Phasing out of remaining fossil heat generators
  • Thermal planning
  • Reducing energy consumption of plant technology
  • Making transformation socially acceptable

The background paper is the result of the strategic scientific consultation on climate-neutral building stock for the BMWK and outlines what is, in the view of the participating research institutes, the need for action from a scientific perspective.

Links and downloads

Background paper on buildings strategy Climate neutrality 2045 (BMWK website in German)

Background paper on the energy efficiency strategy for buildings (2015) in German

Project team: Andreas Kemmler, Paurnima Kulkarni, Dominik Rau (PL), Noha Saad, Malek Sahnoun, Nils Thamling (PL)

Last update: 15.03.2023

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Dominik Rau

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