Real Estate

Why concrete, of all things, is important for green real estate

The long-term trend on the German real estate market is towards sustainability and there is already a long-term trend among German investors towards sustainable real estate investments. We explain what role concrete, of all things, plays in green real estate.

On the way to a green future

In Germany there has been a longstanding trend among investors towards sustainable real estate investments. It’s about making the investments as socially and ecologically sustainable as possible. However, the question arises as to what green real estate should look like in the future. The UN has clearly formulated its climate target with a warming of only two degrees by 2030 and for real estate the key to more sustainability lies not only in efficiency, but also in the building material used. Concrete, of all things, could play an important role here, because this approach for a sustainable future is not about finding new green raw materials for the construction of buildings, but about making better use of existing resources. A company in Munich shows how this project could look like in implementation.

Concrete as a new, old building material

People now have to lay the foundations for a climate-neutral future and, according to a study by Germany’s leading auditing and consulting company PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), investors have now recognized this as well. The pressure is high to make future-oriented sustainable investments and, according to the study, many investors see the potential of revitalization. Because the level of emissions from the building sector in particular is 40 percent of the total volume and is therefore not exactly convincing. But the donors are also well aware of the increased construction costs. “In the wake of the pandemic and global warming, it is no longer just about unconditional profit maximization, but more than ever about preserving our livelihood. The construction industry can make a decisive contribution if it uses existing concrete, ”explains Timo Brehme, managing partner of CSMM GmbH.

From old to new

The Munich architecture and consulting company CSMM shows how you can build sustainably with concrete and uses the building fabric of the past century as the foundation for a climate-neutral office complex in downtown Munich. Brehme explains: “It’s all about concrete: The gray energy contained in the built-up material in existing properties can be used through resource-saving renovation. Many buildings just need a chance for a second life. ”The architecture and consulting company not only wants to promote the redevelopment of existing building complexes with concrete, but also inspire other companies and project developers to use existing building fabric with its projects.

Higher renovation rate necessary

At the moment it is almost impossible to build CO2-neutrally, but it is quite possible to noticeably reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the construction industry. The architects at CSMM emphasize that the renovation rate must increase from the current rate of around one to at least three, or even better, four percent. In plain language, this means that more companies and project developers need to be willing to work with existing building materials and thus promote the revitalization. Timo Brehme continues: “The figures alone underline the importance of the revitalization from an economic and ecological point of view: By maintaining the basic building structure, around 40 percent of the costs can be saved, and when it comes to the CO2 footprint, the savings even add up to 80 to 90 percent Beech. This does not include the reduction that a renovated building with new technology, insulation and heating brings with it in long-term operation. “

Global Status Report for Building and Construction

However, the fact that the preservation of building fabric is essential to achieve the climate protection goals is not a new discovery, because as early as 2019 the UN formulated in its “Global Status Report for Building and Construction” that the reuse of resources is the key to a green future. Hence the clear recommendation: Less tearing and more renovation! To this end, more and more strategies for the planned restoration of existing buildings are to be developed and implemented, which in turn will increase the renovation rate and pave the way for a green future.

The CSMM office complex in Munich shows how it is

CSMM not only converted an office building from the 1970s into a modern office complex in Munich, but also won the German Design Award 2021 with the project called “FRITZ”. For the implementation, the company only took on the construction skeleton, gave it a new facade and completely reorganized the interior. Instead of tearing down the building, it was simply redesigned and given a new and optimized usage phase. Managing Director Timo Brehme is convinced that projects like FRITZ can be pioneers for a greener future for real estate and that investors will also prove that the use of existing concrete can be a cost-effective and sustainable alternative to conventional construction projects. “In this way we make an economically sensible contribution to climate protection, which also has a positive effect on the image of the respective property developer.”

Image Sources: Romolo Tavani /


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