6

In light of the current Ukraine crisis and and the uncertainties of the supply with natural gas the German government recently published an ordinance aimed at saving energy, official text unfortunately only in German. I have a question on the meaning of the rules and especially the difference between public and private office buildings. First §6 reads:

(1) Im Arbeitsraum in einem öffentlichen Nichtwohngebäude darf die Lufttemperatur höchstens auf die folgenden Höchstwerte geheizt werden:

  1. für körperlich leichte und überwiegend sitzende Tätigkeit 19 Grad Celsius

My translation:

(1) In working spaces in a public non-residential building the air temperature may be heated to a maximum of:

  1. 19 degree Celsius for light and predominantly sitting work

§12 referring to private companies then reads

Für Arbeitsräume in Arbeitsstätten gelten die in § 6 Absatz 1 Satz 1 festgelegten Höchstwerte für die Lufttemperatur als Mindesttemperaturwerte.

My translation:

For work places the maximal values from § 6 sentence 1 for air temperature are minimal temperature values.

I would read that as meaning that a public office building can be heated to at most 19 degrees but can be heated to lower temperatures or even not at all. A private office building needs be heated to at least 19 degrees but can be heated to higher temperatures if they want to.

The latter part seems very strange because it would imply that private companies are not allowed to save as much energy as they want to or feel able to which seems in direct contradiction to the stated goals of the law. Is that what this regulation means?

1 Answer 1

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Employers – whether public or private – have a duty of care. They must provide a safe working environment that does not endanger the health of employees, which includes appropriate heating/cooling. Too low temperatures must be prevented to protect the health of employees. Therefore, existing regulations in form of ASR A 3.5 require minimum temperatures:

how strenuous → light medium heavy
seated +20°C +19°C -
standing, walking +19°C +17°C +12°C

EnSikuMaV reduces these minimum temperatures for light and medium work by 1°C:

how strenuous → light medium heavy
seated +19°C +18°C -
standing, walking +18°C +16°C +12°C

The EnSikuMaV wants to ensure that the public sector serves as a role model, and therefore requires that public buildings are heated to exactly the minimum allowed levels (these levels are maximums per § 6 but also minimums per § 12). Public sector employers can nevertheless keep higher temperatures in individual cases if they consider this necessary for their duty of care. See explanations on page 22 of the document.

The private sector is not forced to reduce heating, but now has legally safe grounds to reduce heating somewhat, if they so wish. This Verordnung does not introduce minimum heating levels, but lowers existing temperature requirements. Reducing heating reduces costs, and will therefore generally be in the interest of (profit-maximizing) private industry. Some minimum temperature is necessary to protect the health and rights of workers. See the explanation on page 27 of the document.

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  • The ruling in §12 applies to Unternehmen so I would think that does not include the public sector. But as the ASR stuff still applies, they still have the minimum of 19 degrees which by the new Verordnung is also the maximum (up to adjustments for strenuous etc).
    – quarague
    Aug 29, 2022 at 10:57
  • 1
    @quarague §12 applies to “Arbeitsstätten” (work places) so it applies to the public sector as well. Titles are not normative and merely informational.
    – amon
    Aug 29, 2022 at 11:30
  • Also: Schools are Exempt.
    – Trish
    Aug 29, 2022 at 12:59

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