Realising “Near Zero Carbon” Building Regulation – Comparing Sustainable Housing Developments In Denmark And Sweden
Paper in proceeding, 2017

Over the last ten years standards for sustainable building have become increasingly tight. Central in this development is the EU, and subsequently national, regulation. From 2002 these have defined both prescriptive energy criteria and more performative regulation of “near zero carbon” sustainability to enable local and national innovation to flourish. The shifts in regulation regime are analysed, asking: Have the policy mixes and regime shifts given the intended impact on a transition toward zero carbon? Theoretically, institutional and political science concepts of public regulation are used, providing a review of regulation forms and their relation to innovation. Other paradigms of sustainable housing are viewed as competing institutions, using “anticipative institutionalisation” for the process where rules are installed before they are law. A comparative study between Sweden and Denmark of the responses to the call for near zero carbon regulation is done. The investigation shows that the zero carbon regulation exhibits differences between the countries both in their substantive elements and in the soft law initiatives. The anticipative institutionalisation before 2020 is compared to that of 2010 and 2015. Even if the results are not impressive, performative regulation can be said to better respond to the continual process of improving sustainability.


Christian Koch

Architecture and Civil Engineering

Stefan Gottlieb

Ruddock, L, Van-Dijk, H and Houghton, CAM, (eds.) 2017, International Research Conference 2017: Shaping Tomorrow's Built Environment - conference proceedings, University of Salford, Salford, UK

9781912337040 (ISBN)

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Areas of Advance

Building Futures (2010-2018)

Subject Categories

Civil Engineering



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