Top Cities and Neighbourhoods

New “Climate Plus” Strategy of Federal Association of German Housing and Real Estate Companies (GdW) Combines Climate Change Mitigation with Social Peace

01.

July 2021

The WohnZukunftsTag is an annual conference organised in Berlin to discuss the challenges of Germany’s housing industry. At this year’s convention, the GdW Federal Association of German Housing and Real Estate Companies presented a new strategy called “Climate Plus” (“Klima-Plus”). The new concept seeks to ensure that carbon-neutral housing remains affordable in future.

2021 WohnZukunftsTag Conference Discusses the Future of German Housing

On 16 June 2021, the annual WohnZukunftsTag conference convened—online, due to the pandemic—to discuss the ever-present topics of senior-oriented housing, digitisation and climate change mitigation. The background is that the German Government has set itself the target to achieve carbon-neutrality by 2045. The investment incentives some political parties have championed, e. g. the new carbon price, are controversial, though: The Christian Democrat bloc, for instance, has already abandoned the idea of splitting the carbon price between tenants and landlords. Axel Gedaschko, the President of the Federal Association of German Housing and Real Estate Companies (GdW), now presented a new concept called “Climate Plus” (“Klima-Plus”) at the convention. The subsidies it defines are supposed to supplement the already integrated federal subsidies because it is the only way to secure affordable housing for large segments of the population, or so the argument goes (www.gdw.de).

Climate Neutrality and Affordable Housing in Three Steps

In its first stage, which is dedicated to socially oriented climate protection, the Climate Plus strategy is intended to largely neutralise the all-in rent. This means that after the completion of climate change mitigation measures, tenants should pay no more than 50 Cents per square metre in extra rent. The idea here is to limit the impact on tenant households. Whenever an energy-efficiency refurbishment is undertaken during a tenancy, residents shall have the right to remain in their flats. If such dwellings are re-let, applicants with a “Plus” type eligibility certificate for subsidised rent-restricted apartments (“WBS Plus”) shall have the right of first refusal before the flats are offered to any other applicants. Maximum rents are supposed to approximate the level of local reference rents.

In a second phase, landlords are to be obligated to pass on the energy savings to their tenants, and to raise the passing rent exclusively within the limits set by a previously defined index. GdW’s scheme would extend over a rather long period of time. The association expects it to multiply the supply of available flats that are both future-ready and affordable. According to GdW’s own calculations, a refurbishment rate of 2.5% ought to ensure that as many as 1.8 million older rental flats are rent-controlled along these lines after a five-year period while meeting the 2045 climate standard.

In its third phase, the association considers a carbon savings corridor inevitable as the main target and control variable. It also champions technological openness in order to leave it up to housing companies how they organise the energy production and the energy consumption across sectors. Another condition that GdW defines toward this end is the need to structure energy legislation in a way that is conducive to climate change mitigation in the residential sector.

In closing, the GdW association emphasised that the Climate Plus model may also be applied to new-build housing construction and owner-occupied homes. The GdW homepage carries a statement by its President, Axel Gedaschko. It argues that the policymakers’ job is one thing above all: Tightened climate targets must be backed by adequate subsidies in order to preserve the social peace (www.gdw.de). Sources: www.haufe.de www.gdw.de www.wohnzukunftstag.de

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