Knowing what works: How to improve the evaluation of existing climate protection measures

In order to assess the success or failure of strategies to reduce emissions in the building sector, reliable data, evaluation of all policy programs, good timing of evaluations and their inclusion in political reform processes are necessary – foundations that are currently not yet available to the required extent, according to the findings of a new Ariadne paper. At 11 percent, heating in residential buildings accounts for a significant proportion of greenhouse gas emissions in Germany. A bundle of effective measures is therefore needed to achieve the climate targets. 

Based on expert interviews, content analysis and the scientific literature, Ariadne researchers from the Hertie School provide a detailed insight into the governance framework and methods of ex-post evaluation of policy measures in the building sector and assess the impact on the development of climate policy instruments. Their work shows how coordination challenges between organizations and methodological limitations in the evaluation of existing policies can affect the accuracy of projections of future effects of planned policy packages. For example, the timing of evaluation processes and the reform of climate policy measures are not well coordinated. Similarly, legal restrictions make it difficult to exchange data. At the same time, some key assessment criteria are neglected in the evaluations, such as distributional effects or administrative challenges in implementation.

Based on their findings, the Ariadne researchers propose various options that could improve the evaluation of energy-saving and emission-reduction measures and thus make climate policy more efficient. These include easier access to reliable data, for example in the form of a building database that records current efficiency standards for the building envelope and the heat source. The evaluation of climate protection measures should also be expanded to include variables such as socio-economic effects, dynamic cost efficiency and requirements for governance and administration in the implementation and follow-up of measures, the authors argue. In addition, overarching evaluation standards, reporting obligations and data transparency should be strengthened.