A partner of the very beginning is Dilek Ruf, Managing Director of the architecture firm BBU.PROJEKT and chairwomen of the Association of Architects BDA. With her expertise, network and knowledge, she is a central driving force behind the trade fair. "Being part of the REA community, which is dynamic and proactive, refusing to give up but instead collectively seeking better, more sustainable solutions, makes me happy!" says Ruf.

A central question posed by Real Estate Arena is: How can we bring about change in an industry whose output is solely dependent on finite resources, with immense ecological, social, and economic interdependencies? Ruf states, "We are not negotiating over mere stones; we are negotiating for our future."

"The REA provides us with a cross-sector platform where together we build a highly open and engaged community. We firmly believe that 'business as usual' is not an option in our industry and that holistic solutions are necessary. We face mega-topics such as land consumption and ecological conflicts, affordable housing and social inequality, demographic change and skills shortages, digitization, and artificial intelligence—all in the context of climate change. REA brings together relevant minds from the real estate industry who already cooperate successfully today and recognize that collective action is a prerequisite," Ruf summarizes.

Throughout our conversation, we repeatedly hear that Ruf has long been deeply concerned about the issue of climate change in her daily business. What can the real estate industry do to reduce its own carbon footprint and contribute to a more sustainable future?

Ruf takes a clear stance: "Sustainability is a term that is often overused today and is often equated with simplistic solutions such as increased insulation, photovoltaic systems, and timber construction."

It is much more than that: "If we do not design our built environment with due care, if we do not construct our buildings to last far beyond a few decades, if we do not preserve our land and promote the continued development of our cities and towns inward instead of continuous urban sprawl, then the goal of sustainability—and thus carbon neutrality—remains a mere phrase."

There is much work to be done and ambitious plans ahead. We will learn more about the next steps from Ruf and her colleagues at the upcoming Real Estate Arena, taking place from June 5th to 6th, 2024.