On 1 July 2020 Germany assumed the Council of the European Union presidency for the next six months. Alongside the central issue of combating and overcoming the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the focus will also be on real estate industry-related topics. What those are is discussed by Thies Grothe, lawyer and Head of Public Affairs at the noventic group, in the following interview.
Mr Grothe, energy issues play an important role in the German Council of the EU presidency, which is set to press ahead with the framing of a European climate protection law. The objective is to commit Europe bindingly to climate neutrality by 2050. Is that feasible from the perspective of the real estate industry?
Germany has set itself the ambitious goal of having climate-neutral building stock by 2050, and the EU is undoubtedly also capable of achieving that objective. The “Green Deal” put forward by the European Commission also makes explicitly mention of this goal. To enable the real estate industry to play its part in achieving this goal, solutions are needed that combine climate protection and economic efficiency. The companies of the noventic group are opting for low-investment measures involving the digitisation of building infrastructure and sensors with radio transmission.
The EU Green Deal provides for a “renovation wave” for building stock, which accounts for 40 percent of the EU's energy consumption. What needs to be considered here?
Fortunately, in Germany new buildings are still and will hopefully continue to be energy-efficient and high in quality. However, new build accounts for at most 1% of the country's total real estate stock. Therefore it is much more important to refurbish the high proportion of existing buildings in an energy-efficient way, and this constitutes the major challenge for the coming years and decades, as the EU also recognises. It is vital for this process to remain economical for landlords and tenants, as is clearly laid down in Germany in Section 5 of the new Building Energy Act (Gebäudeenergiegesetz - GEG).
What role in this does digitisation play for the real estate industry?
Data is the modern gold, including when making real estate energy-efficient and comfortable. We bring building data together on a central platform and use it as the basis for smart digital applications. This means energy systems can be controlled more efficiently, renewable energies better integrated into power supplies for buildings and into grids, while residents can access their energy consumption data at any time, conveniently from home via apps. This is based on sensors with radio transmission which, as laid down in the EED (Energy Efficiency Directive), must be installed in apartment blocks by 2027.
Digitisation is also crucial in optimising electricity generation and consumption, as well as in ensuring optimum integration of renewable energies into the power supply. How do you feel the industry is positioned here?
The key phrase is smart meter roll-out. The Smart Meter Gateway (SMGW) sits at the heart of the digitisation of the energy transition in the building sector, for the digitisation of buildings. A secure infrastructure certified by the Federal Office for Information Security (Bundesamt für Sicherheit in der Informationstechnologie - BSI) facilitates the multi-disciplinary collection and compilation of building data, making it usable for digital applications. The SMGW thus assists both the real estate and energy industries, as well as society as a whole, in achieving our energy and climate policy goals.