A pioneer in ecological building and an internationally renowned climate researcher will be honored with the German Environmental Prize this year. The prize, awarded by the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU), goes to the climate scientist Friederike Otto, who works in London and comes from Kiel, and to the timber construction entrepreneur Dagmar Fritz-Kramer from the Allgäu, as the foundation announced today in Osnabrück.

Fritz-Kramer receives the award for her pioneering work in the construction industry. Your company relies on wood as a building material for new construction and renovation of buildings. Otto is being recognized for her research examining the role of global climate change in regional extreme weather events.

“Both award winners demonstrate with outstanding drive in their profession that we must not lose any time in the fight against the climate crisis,” said the Secretary General of the Federal Foundation, Alexander Bonde. The two winners share the award worth a total of 500,000 euros. It is to be handed over on October 29th in Lübeck by Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Climate scientist Friederike Otto

According to Bonde, the physicist and doctor of philosophy Otto has made outstanding contributions to so-called attribution research as an “excellent climate scientist”. This discipline investigates the influence of climate change on extreme weather events – such as heat waves or heavy rain.

For her research, the 41-year-old founded the World Weather Attribution (WWA) initiative in 2015 together with her late Dutch colleague Geert Jan van Oldenborgh. Otto is also lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s sixth assessment report.

The climate expert from Imperial College in London and her WWA team recently presented a new study. Accordingly, heat waves like those in July this year in southern Europe or the southwest of the USA would be almost impossible without man-made climate change.

DBU General Secretary Bonde emphasized the rapid publication of such study results immediately following extreme weather events. “Presenting sound research in real time not only pioneers a balanced discourse about climate change, impacts and responses, but also removes false news. All of this makes global warming real and understandable.”

Timber construction entrepreneur Dagmar Fritz-Kramer

Dagmar Fritz-Kramer, as managing director of the Allgäu-based company Bau-Fritz GmbH, is an “idea generator for new paths in the construction sector,” the foundation explained the award. The 52-year-old engineer and her fourth-generation family business demonstrate how energy-efficient and ecological construction with wood can promote climate protection in the building sector.

Fritz-Kramer’s medium-sized company with around 500 employees says it primarily uses local spruce wood for house walls, roofs and ceilings. Construction projects would save around 12,000 tonnes of climate-damaging carbon dioxide (CO2) every year.

Since wood stores large amounts of carbon, the building material is an “excellent climate protector,” said Secretary General Bonde. “It’s almost like building a second forest of houses.”

The Federal Foundation referred to figures from the Federal Environment Agency, according to which the building sector in Germany caused around 40 percent of climate-damaging greenhouse gases such as CO2 in 2022. The reason lies in the high number of old buildings in need of renovation.

Both award winners are “inspiration and motivation” to learn from the previous consequences of global warming and to implement more environmental and resource protection, said DBU General Secretary Bonde.