Decarbonisation of the German residential building stock - Qualitative and quantitative system modelling of the societal motivation processes to increase the energetic renovation dynamics and the effectiveness of policy instruments

Problem statement

While an energetic renovation (ER) rate of at least 2 % per year of the existing building stock is necessary to achieve the German climate protection targets, the current rate is around 1 % and stagnates despite existing political support instruments (1). Although the question of how to increase the ER has been addressed in numerous studies, there is a lack of deeper understanding of the motivation process for energetic renovation. In the previous project SYSDYM, a System Dynamics (SD) simulation model was created that depicts the societal motivational process on the energetic renovation rate of German residential buildings in a highly aggregated way (1). The non-linear dynamics and integration of policy instruments resulted in tipping points, which significantly increased the motivation by enhanced social acceptance and thus willingness for energetic renovation. This SD model is to be expanded and quantified by involving stakeholders and conducting detailed surveys of actors (esp. homeowners).

Project Content

The overall goal of the project is to develop a robust and valid SD simulation model to describe the motivation process for energetic renovation. For this purpose, the involvement of stakeholders from politics, science and practice is just as central as the quantification of the SD model through surveys of various relevant groups of actors. The simulation model should enable a deeper, more holistic system understanding of the complex, dynamic motivation processes for energetic renovation. In this context, the model should above all take into account the different groups of actors and examine whether the impact chains and thus the SD models differ for the different actors. It is of great importance that the models are not too complicated, but detailed enough to achieve a realistic, robust representation of reality. Based on these models, the project will test the effectiveness of existing and alternative policy instruments on energetic renovation dynamics. The SD models thus reflect the complexity of the renovation process in a reduced form and show leverage points with which the ER can be increased to over 2% per year in a sustainable manner. Stakeholders from politics, science and practice are involved in the entire modelling process, which increases both the quality of the models and their acceptance for possible implementation of the findings. At the end of the project, the central results should lead to the derivation and formulation of policy advising recommendations together with the stakeholders in order to bring the research findings on the way to implementation. In addition, it will be examined whether the envisaged two-stage involvement of stakeholders (model quality) and actors (model quantification) is suitable for the creation of robust SD models and can be transferred to other research areas. The modelling process is illustrated in the following figure:

Research Questions

What effect do the existing policy instruments have on the motivation process of energetic renovation and why do they not lead to a significantly higher renovation rate?

What obstacles and opportunities do different groups of actors see for the implementation of energetic renovation?

Is it possible to derive more effective policy instruments, possibly tailored to different actors, from the system models through a deeper understanding of the motivation process?

What are the unintended side-effects of existing and alternative policy instruments?

To what extent does the method of two-stage involvement of stakeholders (model quality) and actors (model quantity) increase the validity and acceptance of system models and can it be transferred to other research areas?


(1) Schünemann, C.; Sidorova, A.; Gkini, C.; Kopainsky, B.: Using system dynamics modelling to analyse the interplay of policies and societal motivation for promoting energetic renovation. In: Proceedings of the 2021 System Dynamics Conference, Virtually Chicago, USA, July 26-30 2021. System Dynamic Society, 1-30, 2021.

The Leibniz Institute of Ecological Urban and Regional Development is jointly funded by the federal government and the federal states.

FS Sachsen

This measure is co-financed by tax funds on the basis of the budget approved by the Saxon State Parliament.