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Digital methods and tools: How to speed up building renovations and neighborhood planning

The construction industry in Germany is currently struggling with a shortage of skilled workers, difficulties in procuring materials and the interest rate situation - this is slowing down the speed of renovation and construction processes. In addition, the long planning and approval phases play a crucial role in why construction takes so long in Germany. The multitude of regulations and non-standard requirements in Germany's federal system further slows down the process. A simplification and reduction of bureaucracy in the processing of building applications would certainly be desirable.

Digitalization as an acceleration factor

Digitalization can help accelerate this process. The digitization of existing building data plays a key role: the inventory data collection of buildings and districts helps to make renovation and planning processes more efficient and to obtain more precise information about the existing building structure. In this context, various methods and digital tools are used to optimize inventory.

Digitalization in building renovation

In order to accurately record the condition of buildings for energy-efficient renovations, conventional methods are often time-consuming because (correct) plans are not always available - especially not in digital form. The use of laser scanning, LiDAR and photogrammetry offers precise and fast solutions. 360° photography makes inventory capture even easier and is available in the form of powerful apps for tablets and smartphones. Measurement work can be done quickly, easily and without much prior knowledge using the laser scanner. This means that all data is always at hand, prepared in a BIM-compliant manner and can also be used for an iSFP (individual renovation schedule), for example.

Software solutions for efficient buiding record

The use of laser scanning technologies, for example, enables high-precision measurement of buildings and neighborhoods. By capturing millions of points, three-dimensional models are generated that provide an accurate representation of the structures. These models not only serve as documentation, but also as a basis for further planning and analysis processes.
Tablet-compatible software solutions such as "BuildingCheck" from Plan4 not only enable measurement functions, but also a comprehensive evaluation of buildings according to various criteria. Through categorization, e.g. based on year of construction, type of window and condition, detailed renovation plans with cost calculations can be created. These digital tools promise significant time and cost savings.

Dealing with incomplete data

If building data is incomplete, databases and calculation programs such as the U-value calculator offer support. Experience can be used to estimate missing information. The challenge of different data formats is overcome by creating digital building twins that integrate different data sources.

Building Information Modeling (BIM)

Another important component is the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM). BIM not only enables the capture of geometric information, but also integrates additional data about materials, components and technical systems (and much more). This not only makes it easier to take inventory, but also to plan renovation or conversion measures. The collaborative nature of BIM allows professionals from different trades to work on a project simultaneously and update information in real time.

(You can also find an overview of digital tools and methods - in German - here:

Digital data collection for new development areas and municipal heat planning

Digitalization plays a crucial role not only in renovation, but also in the development of new development areas and municipal heat planning.

Energy cartography for efficient data collection

If municipal heat planning is pending in cities and communities or if new building areas are to be developed, it is necessary to first obtain an overview of the situation with regard to the energy connection. Is the area already served by a (district) heating network? Is there data available for this?
Instead of having to collect all the data yourself from archives or from various websites, tools are available that always use geospatial and soil data in up-to-date form. One of these was developed by our partner in NETZ-WERK REGENERATIV, ENEKA Energiekartografie. The tool also serves as a database and tool and offers current geospatial and soil data for efficient data collection and use. The use of algorithms for building recognition accelerates the energy analysis and enables cross-sector potential analyzes with little effort.

Cross-sector analysis for municipal heat planning

Municipal heat planning not only requires building stock analyses, but also needs, supply and potential analyzes of neighborhoods during planning. Digitalized tools enable a cross-sector determination of energy potential, consumption, costs and emissions for buildings and entire areas. The ENEKA tool obtains the data required for this partly from freely available data sources and partly from paid data sources.
A building detection algorithm that examines a typical building can draw conclusions about the energy needs of the district and thus speed up the recording. Energy analyzes and the resulting potential determinations and recommendations for measures are created with little effort and a high degree of accuracy.
This accelerates planning and enables precise implementation of renewable energy supply solutions.

Holistic solutions through expert collaborations

In Germany, more buildings urgently need to be renovated to make them more energy efficient so that the existing building stock will be climate-neutral by 2050. According to calculations by the Federal Association for Energy-Efficient Building Envelopes, the renovation rate is currently only 0.83% - but 2% of the old building stock would have to be renovated every year in order to achieve the goal.
In order to successfully implement the energy transition in the building sector, cooperation between experts from different specialist areas is essential. Collaboration speeds up and simplifies complex processes and reduces the likelihood of connection errors. By combining renewable energy supply solutions and digital tools, neighborhood developers, city planners and municipalities can implement efficient solutions for sustainable building and neighborhood supply. You can find out more about expert cooperation with regard to the heat transition at NETZ-WERK REGENERATIV.