Climate protection in real estate (Part 1)

Climate Protection Strengthening Act: Stricter requirements for project developers and property owners

Once the Climate Protection Strengthening Act comes into force at the beginning of January 2024, both existing and new buildings in Hamburg will be required to observe installation obligations of solar panels and green roofs. However, there are also some simplifications regarding the approval of solar systems and heat pumps. In our Insights article, we briefly outline what project developers and property owners need to be prepared for when the Climate Protection Strengthening Act comes into force.

The ‘Hamburg Climate Protection Act’ (Climate Protection Act) came into force in February 2020. As part of the so-called ‘Act to Strengthen Climate Protection and the Expansion of Renewable Energies in Hamburg’ (Climate Protection Strengthening Act), the Climate Protection Act, the Hamburg Building Code (Hamburgische Bauordnung) and the Act Implementing the Administrative Court Code (Gesetz zur Ausführung der Verwaltungsgerichtsordnung) will be amended with effect from 1st of January 2024.

The following are the most important changes for project developers and property owners:

1. Climate Protection Act

  • The aim: Hamburg is to be net CO2-neutral by 2045 (five years earlier than previously planned) and to reduce its CO2 emissions by 70 % by 2030 compared to the base year of 1990.
  • Photovoltaic systems on new buildings, which are mandatory since 1st of January 2023, must cover at least 30% of the gross roof area from 2024.
  • Photovoltaic systems will also be mandatory for existing buildings from 2024 if their roofs are ‘significantly modified’. At least 30% of the net roof area must be covered.
    • ‘Significant roof alterations’ refers to changes to the roof surface in which the water-bearing layer is significantly renewed through a loft conversion, roof extension or fundamental roof renovation. It does not include roof maintenance.
  • From 2027, green roofs combined with photovoltaics (solar green roofs) will be mandatory for both new and existing buildings.
    • Regarding the photovoltaic obligation, the Climate Protection Act provides for alternative fulfilment options, such as the use of facades and building shells instead of the roof. Further alternative compliance options are to be defined by regulations of the Senate.
  • From 2024, photovoltaic systems with a module area of at least 40 % of the suitable parking space area must be installed above parking facilities. The obligation is triggered when more than 35 parking spaces are created in a new building or by extension.
    • Again, alternative compliance options are provided by using the roof surface or other surfaces of the building shell. In cases of unreasonable hardship, an exemption may be granted on application. A deemed approval will be introduced if the application is not approved within the specified time.
  • The exemplary effect of the public sector will be expanded and specified: In principle, photovoltaic systems are to be installed on the entire net roof area of existing public buildings. In addition, the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg will only purchase CO2-free vehicles.
  • From 1st of January 2025, new taxis will only be registered if they are locally emission-free.
  • The development of renewable energies, electricity distribution grids, hydrogen, and heat grid infrastructure as well as public charging infrastructure for electric vehicles will be strengthened and accelerated due to their particular importance for achieving the ambitious climate protection targets: 
    • To achieve this objective, it is stipulated that the aforementioned measures are in the overriding public interest and serve public safety. In the case of a balancing of protected interests in accordance with the relevant special legislation, this should result in the particularly high weight of these measures for achieving the climate protection goals being considered. An exhaustive list of priority measures is given in the Climate Protection Act.

2. Hamburg Building Code

  • The construction of heat pumps is privileged in terms of distance legislation (i.e., the distances to be maintained, in particular to roof structures and walls, are reduced).
  • In order to facilitate the installation of solar systems (photovoltaic and solar thermal) on roofs, it is stipulated, among other regulation, that solar systems may be installed without a gap up to fire walls or walls permitted in place of fire walls, provided that they do not protrude above them.

3. Act Implementing the Administrative Court Code

The objection procedure will be abolished for administrative acts relating to the construction, operation, and modification of onshore wind turbines with a total height of more than 50 metres. This gives the opportunity to take legal action directly and shortens the procedure in terms of time.


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