Dear Klara Geywitz, Federal Minister for Housing, Urban Development and Building
Every year, 230 million tonnes of construction and demolition waste are generated in Germany, which accounts for 55 percent of all German waste. Moreover, the latest emissions report of the Federal Environment Agency states: Germany is not on track to meet its climate protection targets. The building sector has missed its emissions reduction target for the second time in a row. To reach the 2030 sector target, an annual reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of 5.5 million tonnes is needed - more than double the current level.
Today, when global warming is increasingly noticeable, energy supply is uncertain and planetary boundaries have been reached, it is not the preservation of building structures that needs to be explained, but their demolition. Preservation must not be limited to a small selection of representative monuments, but must encompass the entire building stock. The destruction and removal of usable building material to landfill is no longer appropriate.
Instead of demolition and new construction, we stand for preservation, renovation, conversion and continued building with the existing stock. Any demolition must be approved on the basis of the common good, i.e. an assessment of the social and ecological environmental impacts.
A demolition moratorium:
+ activates the significant potential of existing buildings and already sealed areas for the creation of the 400,000 new dwellings per year that you have announced. Preservation, refurbishment, energy improvements, but also additions of new storeys, extensions and adaptation to future use requirements are constructive answers to the housing question.
+ uses the existing building stock as an effective means of combating the energy and climate crisis. It preserves and uses the grey energy stored in existing material. It also reduces the need for energy-intensive and climate-damaging building materials such as concrete and steel.
+ is a step towards the circular economy. Instead of demolition, it promotes the establishment of infrastructures for the reuse of building components. After all, in the circular city there is no longer any need for a landfill.
+ prevents gentrification and displacement in urban areas, which often accompany demolition and new construction, and thus counters social tensions.
+ is a contribution to social and economic transformation. It stands for the appreciation of care and repair of the existing in all its architectural, cultural and historical richness.
Policymakers must create clear regulatory frameworks which includes:
+ specifications that incorporate the entire life cycle of buildings into economic and ecological assessments in a binding manner as part of a standard approval process. Public welfare-oriented projects remain possible as an exception.
+ facilitating the preservation of buildings and making it more economically attractive.
+ countering vacancies in cities and focusing on inner-city development measures, as envisaged by the decided end of § 13b of the Building Code (inclusion of outdoor areas in accelerated procedures).
+ demanding consistent compliance with climate targets in the building sector.
+ promoting re-use concepts in architectural practice, such as support for the use of reusable building components, the establishment of decentralised building component warehouses and digital building component exchanges.
The demolition moratorium is one component in the complex interplay of various measures for the building turnaround, as formulated by the initiatives of Architects for Future's MusterUMbauordnung, Bauhaus Erde's Charter of Rome, the BDA's Haus der Erde and others.
The Federal Republic of Germany wants to be climate-neutral by 2045. We need to build in a climatically and environmentally friendly way, today, in order to achieve the goals of tomorrow. Political courage is needed to transform the building sector to be climate-conscious. Federal Minister Geywitz, accept your responsibility and stand up resolutely for a building turnaround and for a demolition moratorium that promotes building with the existing stock.