Step by step − and under the continuous influence of lobbyists and pressure groups − EU member states are moving towards the year 2021, when the »Nearly Zero Energy« Standard will become compulsory for all new buildings throughout Europe.
But what will happen when the law makes maximum energy efficiency obligatory for everyone? Will research and development, public discourse and reporting in the media on sustainable building become superfluous? Certainly not! Even after 2021, there will be a myriad of unanswered questions, room for improvement and plenty of scope for experimentation. The development of architecture has never been predetermined and hopefully never will be − not even when it comes to questions of energy efficiency and sustainability.
Nevertheless, the discussion regarding the relevance of this topic has remained with us ever since DETAIL Green was first launched in 2009. Underlying this is the deeper question regarding the relationship between regulation and self-initiative and between the mainstream and fringe developments in the building sector. The two sides are mutually dependent, as without the preparatory work of the »pioneers«, energy-efficient building would never have advanced as far as it has. At the same time, legal standards are also a catalyst for technical innovation − or at least for their broad penetration into the marketplace.
Anyone who visits a building trade fair in Germany shortly before legal energy standards are tightened, or who analyses the results of market research would be convinced of this. Recently, the company BauInfoConsult conducted a survey among architects to find out what issues they might have, or which issues are likely to have the greatest effect on the construction industry in 2015. It was found that energy efficiency and sustainability topped the list.