In October, the Association of the Bavarian Brick and Tile Industry (BZV), the Builders‘ Guild for the district of Traunstein-Berchtesgadener Land and Association of the Bavarian Building Industry organized the Municipal Housing Construction Conference 2021 in the main hall of Traunstein Town Hall. Under the heading “Affordable housing construction – also an environmental challenge for the future”, Johannes Edmüller, President of the BZV, Bernhard Fuchs, Guild Master of the Builders’ Guild for the Traunstein-Berchtesgadener district, Mayor Dr Christian Hümmer, and District Administrator Siegfried Walch discussed related issues with decision-makers from the construction and property business. As the number of guests had to be limited because of the Corona pandemic, it was also possible to attend the conference by video link.
The focus was on a very topical issue: How can we succeed in creating more sustainable and affordable homes for the coming generation? It became clear that committing to one building material is the wrong approach. A comprehensive and recent study by the LCEE Institute in Darmstadt, which specializes in sustainability studies, clearly shows: If we look at the lifecycle of a building, the building material has no bearing on the carbon footprint. Most of the carbon dioxide is released during the usage phase.
Technology inclusivity as a prerequisite for climate neutrality
“To resolve the current housing and rental crisis in Germany, we must carry on building a sufficient number of new homes. We don’t believe that discussions on expropriations will solve the problems, but rather it is imperative to satisfy demand with the building of sufficient new housing,” said BZV-President Johannes Edmüller in his welcome speech. As a regionally based branch, the clay brick and tile industry had made an important contribution to the creation of urgently needed housing in the Corona year: with dependability, price stability and supply capacity. Key features of brick buildings were their longevity and sustainability, making a key contribution to achieving climate goals in the building sector and standing for affordable and high-quality building. “We still have a long way to go to reach the goals. We have just 7 000 days left until the year 2040, until the Free State of Bavaria and we, too, shall be climate neutral. We want to and shall support this ambitious goal.” Basis for this was, however, fairer and above all technology-inclusive competition, without the political regulation of quotas for particular building methods,” Edmüller continued.
Bernhard Fuchs, Guild Master of the Builders’ Guild for the Traunstein-Berchtesgadener district, put it even more plainly: “The Bavarian state government is in the process of favouring timber building over solid building with a massive implementation of funding programmes. The Bavarian Builders’ Guild – and I here as the local Guild Master as its representative – call on the Bavarian state government not to depart from the road of technology inclusivity and building material neutrality.”
„Politics is not the better building contractor“
“Politics is not the better architect nor the better building contractor,” said Traunstein‘s mayor Dr Christian Hümmer (CSU). “It is not our job to lay down how to build the most environmentally friendly and ecological house. Our job is to create the right framework.” Local governments were currently facing huge challenges. “It aggrieves me when 50 to 60 % of German citizens are theoretically eligible to apply for housing subsidies.” The answer could not, however, be expropriation, this would not create even one more home. “We are a growing town and a growing region. It is no help to me as mayor just to shift a home from one owner to another.” As a community, it was also necessary in view of the rising CO2 levies to think of climate aspects, too. Mayor Hümmer: “A town that is clever about how it positions itself today, that avoids CO2, will protect the town’s ability to act in future, and it will save money. Climate protection also protects the purse and homeland.”
Study shows: Promotion of certain building methods doesn’t help the climate
Dr-Ing. Sebastian Pohl from Life Cycle Engineering Experts GmbH (LCEE), the core business of which includes sustainability assessments, explained how it is not expedient for the goal of climate neutrality to commit to just one building material or method. “Three things are important to get a building with maximized climate neutrality,” said Pohl. The building should no longer be regarded as just a passive shell, it had to be actively used to generate its own energy.
“Building land should not be left to the free market”
Creating affordable housing, that is also the challenge for municipal housing companies and associations like the Wohnbauwerk Berchtesgadener Land GmbH. Its Managing Director Florian Brunner clearly pointed out what these needed above all to be able to meet this challenge in the future, too: “The entire building land should not be left to the free market. A part must be available within the framework of a sustainable housing policy for the building of low-cost rental homes.”