The building sector offers the largest potential for a significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Based on own preliminary investigations for the State of Bavaria, a complete renovation of the building envelope of the current residential building stock would result in a reduced demand for final thermal energy for space heating and domestic hot water by about 70 %. The present study analyzes different existing reference buildings and reference methods. Based on a general literature review, specific criteria will be developed for reference models to represent the thermal energy consumption of the residential building stock for the regional domain under investigation. The objective is to represent the building stock with a limited amount of reference buildings. The method for the development of a reference building will be shown exemplarily for one category.