Funding for efficient buildings: Habeck Ministry stops KfW program

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From: Andreas Schmid

Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (r) was recently a guest in Bavaria. One of the topics was wind energy. Now another climate plan is coming into focus. © Tobias Hase/dpa

The federal government stops the KfW programs for the construction of energy-efficient buildings. The Union is raging – the Economics Ministry is complaining.

Berlin – Bad news for property owners and builders. The federal government stops funding for efficient buildings from the state development bank KfW. The financial support for so-called efficiency houses as well as the energetic refurbishment will be discontinued. The ministry led by Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck also justified the step with an “enormous flood of applications in recent weeks”. Demand far outstripped the funds provided. The CSU is outraged.

Climate-neutral construction: KfW program for efficient houses stopped

In concrete terms, it is about climate-neutral construction. So far, the federal government has supported such projects by subsidizing the new construction of the so-called Efficiency House 55 (EH55). It would have expired at the end of the month and is now not being extended. According to the ministry, the EH55 is standard on the market anyway. And: The end of the funding led to a real rush to the program. This bites with the available budget. The stop is effective immediately.

In November 2021 alone, KfW received applications for a funding volume of 20 billion euros. “In view of the provisional budget management, KfW had to stop the program today with immediate effect.”

It is unclear what this means for applications that have already been submitted but not yet approved. The financial resources are no longer sufficient for this either. However, loans would be checked to prevent financial bottlenecks for affected builders. Habeck’s Secretary of State for Energy, Patrick Graichen, said: “The application freeze is sad and disappointing news for the applicants concerned.” “Instead, an outdated subsidy was continued that creates the wrong incentives.”

Union attacks Habeck Ministry: “Setback in the fight against climate change”

The Union was angry about the stop of KfW funding. CSU party leader Markus Söder spoke of bad news for climate protection. “Today, the traffic light surprisingly stopped an important funding program for energy-efficient building refurbishment. This is a setback in the fight against climate change.” Instead of planning security, there is uncertainty. Secretary General Markus Blume stated: “Climate protection doesn’t stand a chance, Robert Habeck.” The German Environmental Aid also warned against going backwards in climate protection in the building sector. Without rapid regulatory intervention, the traffic light government’s housing offensive will primarily generate the renovation cases of tomorrow.

The CDU politician Jan-Marco Luczak, construction and housing policy spokesman for the parliamentary group, spoke of a “fatal signal for climate protection and the planning security of construction projects”. Reliable political framework conditions are needed instead of “decisions made overnight that pull the rug out from under the feet of owners and builders”.

Jan-Marco Luczak (CDU) speaks during the debate of the Bundestag session on cyber grooming.
Jan-Marco Luczak has been a member of the German Bundestag since 2009. Born in Berlin, he entered parliament via the state list after being defeated by Kevin Kühnert (SPD) and Renate Künast (Greens) in his constituency. © Soeren Stache/dpa

The construction and housing policy spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group, Daniel Föst, in turn sees the Union as responsible. Föst wrote in the direction of Söder on Twitter. “The CSU has stopped the energy-efficient building renovation program described here. This is a setback in the fight for more serious opposition work.” It was only in November 2021 that the grand coalition, including the now co-governing SPD, announced that federal funding for efficient buildings, BEG for short, would expire at the end of January.

The Ministry also argues that it was only because of this short-term information that the rush for the funds could no longer be handled. A press release even speaks of “climate policy mismanagement in recent years”. An overall quite clear attack on earlier decision makers. Habeck’s predecessor Peter Altmaier (CDU) had raised the funds for the “immediate program buildings” to 11.5 billion euros in September. “These are unprecedented record sums and money well invested for climate protection and jobs,” said the minister at the time.

Building Energy Act: Traffic light wants to revolutionize previous regulations

The Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection wants to reform the current regulations. In the future, subsidies should be used where the CO2 savings are greatest. State Secretary Graichen said: “We are currently funding the wrong thing, and this money is then missing for actually effective climate protection measures, for example for the very important building renovation. This can not go on like this.”

According to the Economics Ministry, funding for energy-efficient refurbishments should be resumed provided the appropriate budgetary funds are made available. Luczak says: “The vague announcement of a follow-up subsidy program sounds like mockery to the ears of property owners and builders.”

The traffic light coalition wants to fundamentally change the Building Energy Act (GEG) anyway. In the coming years, subsidies should result directly from the avoided greenhouse gas emissions per square meter. In the coalition agreement, the traffic light also promises “a new start in construction, housing and urban development policy.” The goal is the construction of 400,000 new apartments per year. (as)

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