The new version of the Building Energy Act with rules for heating replacement from next year is a long time coming. At the weekend, negotiations continued in the coalition, on Sunday at parliamentary group level, according to circles in the governing coalition of SPD, Greens and FDP. The three partners aimed for an understanding by the beginning of the new week. According to this, the previous draft law must be rewritten by Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) and Building Minister Klara Geywitz (SPD).

From 2024 onwards, every newly installed heating system should be operated with at least 65 percent green energy. However, no functioning oil and gas heating systems have to be replaced, and defective heating systems can also be repaired. Depending on the heat planning in the municipality, it may take up to 2028 for the stricter rules to apply when replacing a heating system. The switch is to be socially cushioned by state funding. Transitional periods and hardship regulations are also planned.

On June 13, a top group of SPD, Greens and FDP agreed on changes to the draft adopted by the cabinet. However, these still have to be specified and then formulated as a legal text. In the week beginning July 3, experts could comment on the plans at a hearing. The goal is to get the law through the Bundestag by July 7, before the beginning of the parliamentary summer recess.

Stricter new construction standards under discussion

The coalition is also still struggling over the planned tightening of new building standards. The Greens are insisting on the agreed introduction of the strict “Efficiency House 40” (EH40) standard in 2025. There is resistance from the SPD and FDP. The housing policy spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group, Bernhard Daldrup, told the “Augsburger Allgemeine” that since the conclusion of the coalition agreement, the starting point for housing construction has changed due to skyrocketing prices. “Ever higher standards and thus ever higher costs inevitably lead to a decline” in construction activity. But the government cannot afford that.

“The tightening would be a deathblow for the German construction industry,” warned Daniel Föst, spokesman for construction policy for the FDP parliamentary group in the Bundestag. The Greens, on the other hand, called for sticking to the coalition agreement. The construction prices have exploded due to more expensive land and materials, a shortage of craftsmen and sharply increased interest rates, not due to higher climate standards.

The opposition left wants to protect tenants and homeowners from a cost shock when changing the heating system and has proposed a support concept with heavily graduated grants. Recipients of social benefits should therefore get the change completely financed by the state, people with very low incomes to 95 percent.

According to this proposal, those on a middle income could get a 50 percent subsidy. In contrast, high earners with annual salaries of more than 250,000 euros would have to pay for their new heating and accompanying measures on their own. The concept is available to the German Press Agency. The left would set up a special fund, fed from the climate and transformation fund, to finance annual “low to medium billions”.