Renewable Germany Takes On Old Buildings

In Germany,  2012 promises to be a landmark year for green power and efficiency, as the country’s recently passed federal budget includes  €1.5 billion  ($2 billion) earmarked for refurbishing old buildings in the interests of increased energy efficiency. All of which offers opportunities for enterprising green businesses worldwide – opportunities that representatives from the German investment promotion agency Germany Trade & Invest were out sharing with the international community at the Renewable Energy 2011 Exhibition in Makuhari, Chiba-City, Japan.

“Improving energy efficiency and increasing renewable energy generation are two sides of the same coin. German policymakers understand this and have created a comprehensive approach that supports both aspects. As a result, international companies look to Germany as a leader in sustainable energy solutions,” Heiko Staubitz, renewable energy expert at Germany Trade & Invest in Berlin, said in a statement.

energy efficiency legislation

image via Germany Trade and Invest

The heating, lighting and hot water demands for public and private buildings currently account for 40 percent of Germany’s energy consumption and 20 percent of its carbon dioxide emissions. The building refurbishment initiative (run by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development together with the federal KfW banking group), is a longstanding program that has committed nearly €7 billion and facilitated investments of over €84 billion over the past five years. In 2012, that program will be  joined by a new initiative known as the Urban Energy Efficiency Rehabilitation program, which will provide a coordinated approach to increasing energy efficiency in municipalities, rather than solely for individual buildings.

Renewable energy currently makes up 20 percent of Germany’s electricity mix and is increasing, in part because the country recently decided to phase out nuclear power, ramping up its investments in green power instead. Germany features the world’s strongest photovoltaic market, accounting for nearly half of all global installations worldwide. Germany also leads Europe in total wind power installations and is currently preparing for a major expansion in the offshore segment.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.