DGNB certification system

System name

DGNB certification system

System initiator and operator(s)

Based in Stuttgart, the German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) was founded by leading experts from various disciplines within the construction and real estate industry in summer 2007. The DGNB System was developed in close collaboration with the German Federal Ministry of Transport, Building, and Urban Affairs (BMVBS) with a view to actively promoting sustainable building. The system can be applied to buildings and urban districts to ensure they offer users optimum comfort and a high quality of life.

Depending on demand, local organisations can also adapt the system and thereby enter into an exclusive DGNB System Partnership (see tailoring).

Assessment categories

The DGNB System covers six key aspects of sustainable building: environmental, economic, sociocultural and functional aspects, technology, processes and site.  For buildings, the environmental, economical, socio-cultural and functional aspects and technical quality each account for 22.5% of the total, process accounts for 10% and the site quality is given a separate grade. In the urban neighbourhood scheme there is no separate ‘site quality’ category, as it is integrated into the criteria.


The DGNB is based on current European norms and standards. Technically, any scheme can be applied anywhere in the world through a process of making appropriate local adaptations on a case-by-case basis. With the exception of new office buildings, and new urban districts, for which international English-language systems are available, schemes are only available in German, requiring German language skills on the part of the local auditor.

The DGNB collaborates with organisations in Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Switzerland and Thailand to develop and operate nationally adapted DGNB Systems. In this case, projects are certified by the DGNB System Partner, usually the Green Building Councils in the relevant countries.

International DGNB certification route
Generally, the DGNB certification is possible in every country. English-language criteria based on current European norms and standards can be applied quickly and easily anywhere in the world. Auditors who are familiar with both the DGNB System and local conditions recommend adjustments for the local application which are verified by DGNB. The conformity assessment and certification is carried out by DGNB in Germany. This international certification route is currently being implemented e.g. in Greece, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey and the Ukraine.

DGNB System localisation route – DGNB Community
An alternative route includes the detailed adaptation of the DGNB System to local conditions.
In these cases DGNB cooperates with the so-called DGNB Community (local organisations or groups of interested professionals and experts in “Sustainable building with the DGNB system”) who elaborate the international system by in-depth adaptation to local circumstances e.g. climate, standards, laws, processes and cultural differences. The conformity assessment and certification is carried out by DGNB in Germany and can be supported by local organisations for quality assurance. Currently there are DGNB Communities active in Brazil, China and Russia.

Local DGNB System partner
DGNB System partners offer a system which is completely adapted to local conditions, local language and legal requirements. The DGNB System partners operate independently and carry out the conformity check locally. The DGNB System partners use their own logo which identifies the relevant country (e.g. DGNB System Denmark). DGNB System partnerships are currently in place in Bulgaria, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland and Thailand.


DGNB Certificates and Pre-Certificates are awarded in the following grades:

  • Gold (at least 80% of overall score and at least 65% in each criteria category)
  • Silver (at least 65% of overall score and at least 50% in each criteria category)
  • Bronze (at least 50% of overall score and at least 35% in each criteria category)
  • Certified (awarded to existing buildings only, at least 35% of overall score)


The certification process comprises four steps:

1. Preparation and registration: The client first engages an accredited DGNB Auditor and registers the project with the DGNB. The auditors helps the client team define the objectives and criteria it will pursue to achieve certification.

2. Submitting documentation: The auditor compiles the necessary certification documents and evidence to assess the sustainability of the project on the basis of the DGNB’s criteria set. This information is submitted to the DGNB Compliance Testing Team reviews

3. Compliance testing: The DGNB Compliance Testing Team reviews the documentation submitted and sends a compliance review report to the auditor. This gives the auditor the opportunity to submit any additional documentation required. The DGNB compliance testing and certification team subsequently carries out a second review and sends a second and final assessment report to the building owner and auditor. If all parties agree on the results of this assessment, the client gives final clearance. Upon receipt, the DGNB Certification Committee validates the final results. This process generally takes six to eight weeks.

4. Awarding of certificate: Once all parties have approved the assessment results, the DGNB sends a notice of certification to the client and its DGNB auditor. This is followed by the award of a pre-certificate(*) or certificate for the project in question. In order to ensure maximum publicity, certificates are generally awarded by the DGNB at high-profile events such as trade fairs, congresses and official building openings.

(*) DGNB Pre-Certification supports integrated planning, providing early optimisation potential for construction, management, conversion and disassembly with an emphasis on optimising costs. Pre-Certificates are fully valid certificates in their own right; however they only remain valid until the building is completed.

Quality assurance

Quality assurance is handled via the DGNB Compliance Testing Team or its equivalent amongst DGNB international partners. All project documentation compiled by a DGNB auditor for its client is submitted to a thorough and independent review (there is no contractual relationship between the DGNB and DGNB accredited auditors).

DGNB Auditors must have comprehensive knowledge of the structure, criteria and practice-based aspects of the DGNB System. The DGNB Auditor qualification is awarded on successfully completing the DGNB Consultant training, a pilot project audit (or homework assignment). DGNB Auditors must have completed academic studies in architecture, civil or construction-related engineering, natural sciences, economics or building physics and

  • 4 years of relevant professional experience following completion of a post-graduate degree or
  • for building schemes only: 6 years of relevant professional experience following completion of an undergraduate degree or
  • for building schemes only: at least 8 years of professional experience and involvement in planning processes for sustainable building

Further information

About DGNB http://www.dgnb.de/en/

About DGNB certification http://www.dgnb-system.de/en/