The German Sustainable Building Council (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen or DGNB) has one of the most comprehensive sustainability certification systems for urban districts (UD). Their explicit aim is that the system should impact the very earliest design decisions. The Technical University of Denmark has tested the DGNB-UD system in two experimental design projects for similar locations to find out how it can be used in the early-phase design process. This paper describes these two independent design processes, compares them and discusses their general features.
We found that DGNB-UD addresses a broad sustainable focus and can be used as a tool for setting sustainability goals from the very first design steps. The system tends to promote multifunctional compromise solutions that meet several criteria at the same time. Using the DGNB-UD certification system in the early design phases therefore does have some effect on the urban design in terms of a bias towards certain design traits.