greenhouse gas emissions primary energy Heat protection Building Energy Act

New Building Energy Act (GEG) has come into force
New Building Energy Act (GEG) has come into force

Higher energy requirements for new buildings and existing properties are to be put to the test in 2023. The new Building Energy Act (GEG) contains the new innovation clause that no longer every single building has to meet the energy requirements, but the entire district. In concrete terms, this means that energy guzzlers can remain unrenovated if the surrounding houses are very energy efficient.

Building Energy Act came into force on November 1st

On November 1st, the new Building Energy Act (GEG) came into force - with the installation of oil heating systems and without the funding cover for solar systems.

The current Building Energy Act (GEG) does not contain higher energetic requirements for new buildings and the existing ones - these should come to the test in 2023 - for the Central Association of the Housing Industry, GdW, the new innovation clause in the current law is important: Not everyone individual buildings must meet the energy requirements, but the neighborhood. This means that energy guzzlers can remain unrenovated if other houses are very energy efficient.

The clause also makes it possible to switch from the parameter “primary energy” to “greenhouse gas emissions” for a limited period up to 2023 - that is, not all buildings have to be “thickly wrapped in styrofoam” in order to reduce CO2 emissions. The Central Real Estate Committee (ZIA) has also praised the neighborhood approach.

Another important aspect of the new GEG: The solar funding cap for 52 gigawatts of installed capacity has been lifted: This means that new solar systems will also be funded in the future through the green electricity levy.

Repairs requested

But there was also criticism of the new law. The Research Institute for Thermal Insulation (FIW Munich) finds the innovation clause problematic: before an association hearing on the GEG draft law in early March in the Bundestag, the scientists calculated that around 20 percent of one and two-family houses in the redevelopment of a neighborhood according to the innovation clause (Section 103) more CO2 would be emitted than if all buildings were renovated in accordance with the Energy Saving Ordinance (EnEV).

And Felix Lüter, Head of Sustainability Management at the Nassauische Heimstätte Group and Managing Director of Initiative Wohnen 2050, called for improvements in the direction of tenant electricity, as did the ZIA.

Installation ban of oil heating from 2026

An essential addition to the GEG draft of the federal government in the version of May 29, 2019 was the installation ban on oil heating from 2026, which was already included in the climate package. At the end of October 2019, the cabinet approved the changes - albeit with restrictions. Gas or oil boilers that were installed in 1991 or later may only be operated for 30 years - boilers that were installed or set up before 1.1.1991 may no longer be operated at all.

Exceptions to the ban apply if a house cannot be supplied with either gas or district heating and the heating cannot be operated from renewable energies. And hybrid solutions should be possible in both new and old buildings after 2026.

Anyone who has their old oil heating system replaced by a more climate-friendly model can look forward to an “attractive exchange bonus”: It should be 40 percent of the investment costs and the heating exchange should also be tax-deductible.

Background to JIT and legislative process

“The Building Energy Act brings together what belongs together: The energy efficiency and energy supply of buildings will in future be uniformly regulated in a single, coordinated body of legislation,” said Timon Gremmels, the responsible rapporteur for the SPD parliamentary group. Up to now, the Energy Saving Ordinance (EnEV), Energy Saving Act (EnEG) and the Renewable Energies Heat Act (EEWärmeG) have been legally “side by side”.

An EU building guideline has also defined the almost zero-energy building as the standard for new buildings from 2021. This has been in effect for non-residential public-sector buildings since 2019. The new GEG is intended to reduce the bureaucracy and simplify the energy saving law for buildings and to implement the EU Building Directive.

A first attempt in the legislative process failed in March 2016. In spring 2017, the federal government then submitted a ministerial draft. At that time, more than 30 associations and countries submitted comments, but their content was not included. The coalition committee froze the process in early 2017. A new attempt should originally be made after the federal election in autumn 2017. The law was expected to be passed in early 2019 and then early 2020, but the process dragged on.

On January 22nd, 2020, the Bundestag held a first reading on the Cabinet’s modified draft bill, and on March 4th, the experts from the various interest groups and industry associations had another say. In the late evening of June 18, 2020, the Bundestag waved the GEG draft through for the second and third reading. After the Federal Council had given its approval on July 3, 2020, the GEG was announced in the Federal Law Gazette on August 13, 2020. The law will come into force on November 1st, 2020.