BIGMODERN - Subproject 6: Incentives to enforce energy efficiency and sustainability in moderniza­tions of BIG-buildings

Development of approaches, which lead to general conditions for complete refurbishments in BIG-buildings, which support high standards regarding energy efficiency and sustainability. This will ensure high-quality modernizations for BIG's real estate.

Short Description

This project is a sub project of the flagship project "BIGMODERN - Sustainable modernisation standards for buildings owned by the Federal Republic of Austria of the period from the 1950s to the 1980s"




Starting point/motivation

In the course of various national and international agreements on energy saving and climate protection (Kyoto Protocol (United Nations, 1998)) as well as European guidelines such as the buildings directive (Richtlinie, 2010) or the energy services directive (Richtlinie, 2006), the Republic of Austria has committed itself to implement energy efficiency measures and CO2-saving measures.

In addition to international obligations there are additional national measures which have to be met by public buildings. Articles 12 and 13 of the agreement pursuant to Article 15a B-VG between the government and the federal states concerning measures in the building sector for the purpose of reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases defines requirements concerning the contracting parties for the construction and renovation of public buildings.

The BIG holding of Austria’s largest public real estate companies owning roughly 2,800 public buildings which comprise a total building area of approx. 7 million m2. At the same time the BIG holding is also one of Austria’s most important building developers, which in the acts in a market-based way by trying constantly to optimize cost and processes. The portfolio consists of the following segments: schools (about 40%); universities (about 12%) and special property (about 12%).

Since January 2013 the BIG holding has furthermore concentrated its portfolio in the administration and office segment as well as development property into an affiliated company called ARE Austrian Real Estate GmbH. Its portfolio consists of about 600 buildings with about 1.8 million m2. The affiliated company ARE aims at addressing also private tenants.

As a publicly owned company the BIG holding has to meet high demands in terms of energy savings and sustainability as regards renovation of its building stock. Therefore, BIG has submitted a pilot project to House of Future Plus. The core element of the flagship project is the implemen­tation of two demonstration projects, which should be modernized especially for the BIG according to above-average quality standards concerning energy efficiency and sustainability while complying with an industrial management point of view. This is supposed to raise the BIG’s awareness of breaking new grounds (especially as far as the planning phase is concerned) in order to maintain innovative and yet cost-effective renovations.

The aim is to set new standards in conventional renovation and to tap the BIG’s full potential concerning implementations.

Contents and Objectives

Comprehensive refurbishment projects of BIG-buildings, which are rented by ministries or other public institutions (e.g. universities) range in an organizational and legal framework predetermined by the "BIG law".

Especially as far as the possibilities of implementing general renovation or certain qualities of refurbishment without the explicit consent of the tenant, the BIG is constricted by the limits set by the MRG. Given the current circumstances the BIG has no legal hold against the tenant to enforce a general refurbishment project without the consent of the tenant or to obtain a general refurbishment in compliance with energy efficiency and sustainability criteria, if the tenant does not agree and this will be considered in the calculation of the future rent.

Thus, one question takes the center stage: How must the incentives be designed in order to convince the tenant to “buy” sustainability standards?

Based on the general goal of the key project on the one hand – i.e., to develop and comprehensively implement standards for sustainable and energy-efficient modernization of BIG-estate – and in light of the framework conditions for general refurbishment projects of the BIG, the subproject at hand pursues the following objectives:

  • Identification and development of incentive models in the coor­dination process between BIG and tenant ministries that lead to better integration of energy efficiency and sustainability goals in general refurbishment projects given the current framework conditions;

  • In addition: Development of specific proposals for the adaptation of the framework in order to set stronger incentives for the tenants and for the BIG to implement energy efficiency and sustainability in refurbishments.

In this way, the conceptual basis should be created which shall ensure that viable models will become applicable and high quality modernizations in existing buildings of the BIG-estate will become standard beyond the implementation of two demonstration projects within the scope of the flagship project BIGMODERN.

Results and Conclusions

Since the quality of refurbishments cannot be determined unilaterally by the BIG for the time being, but rather the consent of the tenant (ministry) is required, various approaches which may lead to the fact that the tenant "buys" energy efficiency and sustainability standards were analyzed step by step within the scope of the project.

  • Firstly, the tenant may be convinced by the credible representation of the economic profitability of high energy efficiency and sustain­ability standards. On the one hand this can be achieved through the implementation of planning accompanying life cycle cost analyzes which point out at the respective decision points in the planning process that the overall cost debit (capital and operating costs) is less or at the maximum the same as for "conventional" solutions.

    The project shows that even though there are adaptations necessary in several parts of the planning process, this approach can be relatively easily implemented overall.

    Essential parts are for example the formulation of quantifiable energy efficiency and sustainability goals already during the project preparation, review of goal attainment to the key decision nodes (architecture competition, preliminary design, draft), and the standard formulation and evaluation of optimization variants particularly in the context of preliminary design. All these elements are often referred to as essential components of an integrated planning approach.

  • Another approach may be to find contractors models that decrease the "investment risk" of the tenant. This can be achieved when contractors guarantee maximum total cost.

    Models in which larger packages (e.g. planning incl. implementation, planning incl. implementation and operation) are awarded at the same time reduce - compared to individual awards - the interfaces between contractors and allow in addition to add specific warranty on the entire package, which is not possible with individual awards. However, this is offset by a significantly higher effort in project preparation, as a later change of builders and users requirements is possible only with difficulty. The allocation of greater overall pacts also entails a longer bond to a partner.

    Basically, it has to be stated that contractor models, which lead to a transfer of substantial elements of risk of the investment decision to, for example, a system supplier or to a life-cycle contractor, are possible in principle given the current conditions for BIG restoration projects. However, the implementation of this approach only makes sense if the contractor can bear the risk actually better than the client BIG due to its specific expertise.

  • In addition to the adaptation of the planning and execution processes it became obvious during the preparation and implemen­tation of the two demonstration projects that a certain incentive for implementing high energy efficiency and sustainability goals also lies in the presentation of these high quality measures for both the building occupants as well as to the general public. As a conse­quence, building certificates, for example, can be presented as supporting instruments and thus represent a major incentive for the implementation of high energy efficiency and sustainability standards. In the investigation of this approach six rating systems have been described briefly, the respective focal points have been worked out and a comparison from the perspective of BIG has been drawn.

  • Finally, the approach can be followed to change the incentive structure for the tenants generally by changing basic framework conditions for the coordination process between the landlord BIG and the tenant (ministry). Thus, the tenancy and regulatory framework is agreed upon on the one hand and the establishment of a special federal funding for public buildings is addressed on the other hand.

    However, a "reality check" at the beginning of the project has shown that the establishment of a "special bowl" for the promotion of certain energy efficiency measures is currently not viable.

    Also, the adaptation of the frameworks of the tenancy law for contracts between BIG and its tenants seems to constitute a massive intervention into the current model of management of federal property and is therefore considered to be not realistic for the time being. Therefor the project work focused especially on the approach of minimum standards that shall be used in general renovation of federal buildings. Moreover, some considerations to clarify the concept of preservation are employed in the law of tenancy.


The energy efficiency and sustainability standards which have been tested in both demonstration projects (office building Bruck/Mur; University Innsbruck, building engineering faculty) shall be recommended to the user ministries (tenants) for implementation for all future modernization projects in existing buildings of BIG of construction period of the 1950s to 1980s. However, this quality standard has to be accepted by the ministries, any additional costs incurred in the imple­mentation / in compliance with energy efficiency and sustainability standards have to be budgeted. The advantages in terms of life cycle costs have to be presented. Hence, the consideration of the life cycle costs shall be implemented in a standardized way in the future planning.

From the perspective of BIG it is necessary that the ministries as clients of BIG are not relieved of their responsibility. Without active contribution of the tenants the implementation of high energy efficiency and sustain­ability standards in modernization of federal buildings is not viable.

Project Partners

Project management

Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft m. b. H.
Mag. Dirk Jäger

Project partners

Contact Address

Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft m.b.H.
Arch. Mag. Dirk Jäger
Hintere Zollamtsstraße 1
A-1030 Wien
Tel.: +43 (5) 0244 - 4829
Fax: +43 (5) 0244 - 4731
Mobil: +43 (664) 807 45 - 4829

e7 Energie Markt Analyse GmbH
Mag. Klemens Leutgöb
Theresianumgasse 7/1/8
A-1040 Wien
Tel.: +43 (1) 9078026
Fax: +43 (1) 9078026-10