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Old house, new windows: In Germany, almost 60 percent of households live in rented accommodation

Photo: Jochen Tack / IMAGO

According to experts, the German government's goal of climate-neutral buildings by 2045 would require a six-digit number of new skilled workers and additional capital in the hundreds of billions to trillions. The Central Association of the German Construction Industry (ZDB) assumes that the industry would have to hire 150,000 to 200,000 additional workers. ZDB Managing Director Felix Pakleppa told the German Press Agency.

The Ministry of Economics has also had the personnel requirements determined, and the report published in March speaks of 215,000 additional jobs that could be created for energy-efficient modernization in the construction trade. As far as capital requirements are concerned, there is talk of 448 billion euros in additional investment by 2045.

"When it comes to the costs, however, you get a bit dizzy," says Pakleppa. On the basis of the EH 115 standard – the previous old building standard – 110 billion euros per year would be necessary, according to Arge Kiel. "If you want to go up to the EH 55 standard required by the Federal Ministry of Economics, we need 165 billion a year. That means by 2045 that would be 3.4 or 3.5 trillion, so I want to be generous with the decimal point."

However, Pakleppa emphasizes that he still considers the goal of climate neutrality by 2045 to be achievable – provided that the framework conditions, including state subsidies, are right. The experts commissioned by the Ministry of Economics also assume that a climate-neutral building stock is feasible by 2045, but the "solution corridor" is "very narrow". If everything does not run smoothly, the plan will fail: "Deviations in individual fields of action can hardly be compensated for and lead to missing the 2045 target," the paper says.

It is unclear where and how a six-figure number of new craftsmen and construction workers will be recruited. "Currently, we are only managing a renovation rate of one percent per year," said Axel Gedaschko, President of the Federal Association of German Housing and Real Estate Companies (GdW). "And there is already a massive shortage of materials and skilled workers." According to unanimous calculations by various experts, the current "renovation rate" would have to almost double, to 1.8 or 1.9 percent per year. But an immediate doubling is "simply not feasible," said Gedaschko.

»Completely unacceptable state of affairs«

Apart from the lack of skilled workers, considerably higher state subsidies would also be necessary. "In order to meet the requirements of the Building Energy Act alone, an amount of around 61 billion euros would have to be invested in the holdings of the housing companies organized in the GdW over the next twenty years," said Gedaschko. "The bill currently only provides for a promotion of owners. So far, it is completely unclear how tenants and landlords will be supported." The companies did not have the equity and liquidity to ensure significant new construction as well as renovations and heating system replacements. "This is a completely unacceptable state of affairs for a country where almost sixty percent of households live for rent," Gedashko said.

Experts at the Darmstadt Institute for Housing and Environment (IWU) also consider considerably higher state subsidies than before to be necessary. "In new buildings, the primary focus should be on legal regulations," says IWU expert Andreas Enseling. "Funding can be used to accompany this. In the portfolio, we are of the opinion that a combination of significantly increased funding and expansion of CO2 pricing would be best suited to achieving the goals of climate neutrality."