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Enabling energy-efficient refurbishment of rental housing

Tenants in energy-efficient residential properties benefit from savings and a more comfortable home – clear arguments in favour of refurbishment. As landlords, though, housing companies and cooperatives

are reliant on the cost effectiveness of the energy efficiency measures. The Deutsche Energie-Agentur (dena) – German Energy Agency shows how this dichotomy can be resolved. Read more on this topic here.

Statistics & facts

million tenant households
exist in Germany:
million residential units
are provided by the professional private and public sector housing industry nationwide.
12 %
of the final energy consumption
for building energy is used by the housing industry.
80 %
of the residential units
in Berlin are rented – more than anywhere else in Germany.

Promising rentals

Housing industry

The housing industry will play a key role on the way to a climate-neutral building stock. dena provides support as a competent partner.

Over 80 percent of the apartments in cities like Berlin are occupied by tenants. In total, there are roughly 17 million rented households in Germany. The professional housing industry provides almost half of these residential units. Not only must the private and public sector housing industry provide adequate accommodation at affordable prices, they also need to adhere to climate protection requirements. This presents the industry with a particular challenge. On the one hand, the energy-efficient refurbishment must not lead to a significant rise in rent and hence to social displacement. On the other hand, the companies are commercial enterprises and reliant on the cost effectiveness of the energy efficiency measures.

Interface with housing developers

dena remains in close dialogue with the professional housing industry and central associations with the private and public sector housing developers. Together they discuss strategies and measures, as well as regulatory and funding frameworks for the energy-efficient refurbishment of apartment buildings. Moreover, dena has initiated the Alliance for Building Energy Efficiency and coordinates its activities. This cross-sectoral alliance of leading representatives from industry, research, skilled trades, planning, commerce, energy supply and finance advises politicians and promotes clear measures within industry as a means of substantially increasing the energy efficiency of Germany’s buildings.

Successful and energy-efficient refurbishment of rental housing

The completed “Efficient Houses Pilot Project” has already revealed the gigantic potential still slumbering in this area. Over 200 apartment buildings received energy-efficient refurbishment as part of this project from 2004 onward. The results indicated that energy-efficient construction, when completed to professional standards, can reduce energy consumption by up to 80 percent. Moreover, the pilot project demonstrated that numerous energy-efficiency refurbishment measures can also be implemented for rental housing and that the efficient house standard 70 is within reach in this context.

Refurbishment roadmap for the housing industry

dena offers consultancy for large public sector property management firms on the development of long-term refurbishment strategies. This kind of refurbishment roadmap allows the systematic registration and analysis of energy consumption and savings potential in building portfolios. In this way, it enables planning of how energy-efficient refurbishment of the portfolio might be implemented. Among others, Germany’s largest housing developer, Vonovia (formerly Deutsche Annington), the Institute for Federal Real Estate and the Brandenburgischer Landesbetrieb für Liegenschaften und Bauen have already used this service.

Recommended publications

Projects on the topic

geea – “Allianz für Gebäude-Energie-Effizienz” (Alliance for Building Energy Efficiency)

The Alliance for Building Energy Efficiency (Allianz für Gebäude-Energie-Effizienz, geea) is a cross-sector consortium of leading enterprises, associations and organisations in the field of energy efficiency in the construction industry.


  • Project start: 2011
  • Positions and dialogue to improve building energy efficiency
  • Publication of numerous publications, organisation of political events
  • Participation in various dialogue formats
  • 2021: 10-year anniversary
  • 2023: Almost 30 members

Model project for efficient houses

In dena’s ‘Model Project for Efficient Houses’, residential buildings have been being renovated to a high level of energy efficiency since 2003, and the same has been being done with municipal buildings, including mainly schools, since 2007.


  • Project term: 2003 – 2014
  • More than 400 residential and non-residential buildings throughout Germany renovated and assessed for energy efficiency
  • More than 300,000 m2 of living space refurbished
  • CO2 savings of over 3.7 million tonnes per year for residential buildings
  • Final energy consumption in the model projects reduced by an average of 80 per cent