Regulating sustainable construction in Europe

Jeroen van der Heijden (Australian National University, Canberra, Australia and University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
Ellen van Bueren (Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands)

International Journal of Law in the Built Environment

ISSN: 1756-1450

Publication date: 12 April 2013



The purpose of this paper is first, to gain insight into how the European member states have addressed the concept of sustainability in their building regulatory frameworks; and second, to gain insight in the effects of harmonization attempts of these frameworks by the European Commission (EC).


Data on the member states' building regulatory regimes were gathered using a survey questionnaire. The survey questionnaire addressed over 60 different aspects of sustainable construction that may, in various ways, be regulated by the member states.


The data obtained show mixed results. Some aspects of sustainable construction show far‐reaching homogeneity, whilst others do not. It appears that current EC directives have a positive effect on homogeneity of sustainable construction regulation throughout Europe. However, this does not provide a firm base to advise more directives, as these often appear a too resource‐intensive tool to achieve sustainable construction in a timely fashion. Additional and complementary approaches to such directives are proposed.


The paper presents an overview of how European member states have addressed various aspects of sustainable construction in their construction regulatory frameworks. This provides valuable insights for further studies on regulatory change, regulatory convergence and divergence, and policy outcomes related to sustainable construction in the European Union. Also, the study presents a number of approaches to achieve homogeneity that may complement earlier approaches taken by the EC.



Jeroen van der Heijden and Ellen van Bueren (2013) "Regulating sustainable construction in Europe", International Journal of Law in the Built Environment, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 5-20

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