Anyone who heats their house one hundred percent with heat from renewable energies does not have to insulate.

Without structural changes, it could counter further global warming and avoid greenhouse gases.

As simple as the idea is, it is difficult to put into practice.

Bernd Freytag

Business correspondent Rhein-Neckar-Saar based in Mainz.

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The already rapidly growing demand for renewable energies would increase considerably.

It is already not clear where in Germany the “green electricity” for a climate-neutral restructuring of the economy will come from.

The idea that climate protection in buildings is more than mere insulation is still driving more and more parts of politics and has now, barely noticed, found its way into the coalition agreement.

In any case, the insulation industry is alarmed, because the SPD, Greens and FDP expressly mention “technology-open measures” in their government agreement under the chapter “Climate protection in buildings”.

It's not just about the building envelope

In addition to optimizing the building envelope, the future federal government wants to rely on "technical systems for generating and supplying renewable energies in buildings".

Even more: The coalitionists want to “further develop and redeploy the funding programs” accordingly.

Depending on how the programs are actually redeployed, this could have a significant impact on industry and homeowners.

After all, the building ministers' conference in Erfurt only passed a similar resolution a few days ago and announced that it would “abandon the one-sided focus on building insulation”.

In the future, it is no longer just the energy demand and thus the building insulation requirements that should be decisive for the assessment.

Instead, a broader climate balance should be drawn up for buildings.

That means: Photovoltaics, solar thermal energy, the use of waste heat or even wall boxes could be included in the assessment.

Associations of mineral wool and rigid foam manufacturers, on the other hand

The criticism followed immediately.

A number of industrial associations - from mineral wool and rigid foam manufacturers to the BuVEG, which, as a federal association for energy-efficient buildings, unites the interests of insulation material producers through to window and door manufacturers - have rejected the request.

In a joint letter they describe the decision of the Ministerial Conference as unrealistic.

He contradicts all scientific studies on how the building stock can be made "climate-fit".

In fact, the energy requirement must be reduced by 40 percent.

This demand is broadly agreed and a prerequisite for "becoming cost-efficient and climate-neutral".

Because of the worsening climate crisis, rapid implementation is also required.  

In an interview with the FAZ, BuVEG managing director Jan Peter Hinrichs refers to the goal of the federal government, which is also laid down in the coalition agreement, of building 400,000 new residential buildings every year. Wind turbines cannot be built as quickly as the demand for renewable energies grows, he says. "If we want to keep industry in Germany, we should be the first to supply it with renewable energies."

Criticism also comes from the German Environmental Aid. The decision of the building ministers goes back to "massive lobbying of the housing and real estate industry", which wants to prevent an increase in efficiency standards, writes the deputy federal manager Barbara Metz. "We expressly warn against the misleading idea that in the building sector less efforts would be necessary in terms of efficiency if heating with renewable energies is used," she writes. The housing and real estate industry is trying by all means to prevent an increase in efficiency standards and thus a reduction in energy consumption.

The next year will show whether there will actually be a paradigm shift.

Then the new version of the Building Energy Act will be pending under the new federal government.

It was only launched last year as a central set of rules.

Heaters powered by renewable energies

The building ministers of the federal states have already called for extensive changes in Erfurt.

A proposal for a new version can already be found in the agreement of the future government parties: New heating systems should be operated with at least 65 percent renewable energy from 2025 onwards.

Buildings play an important role in the fight against global warming.

According to the German Energy Agency Dena, buildings account for around a third of the final energy consumption in Germany.

By far the greatest amount of energy is used to heat the around 19 million residential buildings.