When it comes to saving energy and protecting the environment, everyone involved in real estate – whether developers, architects, owners, or tenants – plays a crucial role. The primary focus is on the property itself. After all, the operation of buildings in Germany causes approximately 35 percent of the final energy consumption and about 30 percent of CO2 emissions, according to the Umweltbundesamt. Statista reports that over 66 percent of residential buildings in Germany were constructed before 1978. Consequently, there's a need to renovate existing properties, minimizing energy consumption through measures like insulation and modern heating systems.
The impact of residents' behavior, often tenants, on energy consumption should not be underestimated. According to estimates from the Institut Wohnen und Umwelt (IWU), adapting user behavior in rental housing can save about 20 to 30 percent of energy. However, motivating property owners to encourage tenants to change their living habits for energy savings is a challenge.
The keyword here is education. While it is in the tenants' interest to consume less energy and save costs, some are unaware of how much their behavior affects energy consumption. To make them aware of this connection, transparency is key, and this can be easily achieved with digital tools. Multi-Metering, a combination of submetering in heat and water consumption with smart metering for electricity, not only allows owners but also users access to their own energy consumption.
Today, residential properties should be equipped with systems that digitally track consumption and provide users with a clear platform. The shorter the intervals in which consumption information is available, the better – allowing consumers to correlate their behavior with consumption data and costs. Legally, there is no way around it, as EU directives already require building owners to provide tenants with under-year consumption information – though not everyone is technically prepared for it.
Another way to motivate energy-efficient behavior is through so-called Green Leases – rental agreements in which owners and tenants commit to environmentally conscious actions. Let's be honest, most people react negatively to mandatory measures – only when tenants explicitly learn how their behavior affects their wallets will they consistently implement energy-saving recommendations.
By the way, consumer centers offer detailed information and tips for tenants looking to reduce their energy costs. As a prudent landlord, it's worth pointing tenants to these sources – it can also be done traditionally through mail to reach all age groups.
Most people are now also very digitally savvy and should fully utilize the internet's potential. Some digitization experts are already working on apps that present digitally recorded consumption data compactly. There are also apps now that help with electricity consumption by displaying it based on device information and providing suitable everyday tips for saving electricity. Regularly comparing your own electricity tariff with others can also be worthwhile to ensure you've chosen the right provider – perhaps a good opportunity to opt for green energy.
The importance of energy-efficient properties in promoting sustainable living cannot be emphasized enough. A central measure is the modernization of existing properties, especially through the integration of advanced technologies such as insulation and modern heating systems. However, focusing solely on the building structure is not enough. Properties with a good to very good energy efficiency rating offer extensive opportunities to motivate tenants towards a more conscious approach to energy.