REALWorld Law

Construction

Environmental assessment and sustainability

What type of legislation exists dealing with environmental issues affecting building works and with promoting sustainable developments?

Angola

Angola

In Angola, the Framework Environment Law – Law No. 5/98, of 19 June 2015 – provides the basic principles of preserving and protecting the environment, of promoting quality of life and the rational use of natural resources, in accordance with Constitutional Law.

The main legislation dealing with environmental issues affecting building works and with promoting sustainable developments is the following:

  • Environmental Impact Assessment Law – Decree No. 51/04, of 23 July 2004, as amended by Executive Decree 241/16, of 25 May 2016, which lays down the rules and procedures related to the environmental impact assessment of public and private projects
  • Environmental Licensing Law – Decree No. 59/07, of 13 July 2007 – which governs environmental licensing of activities which, by their nature, location or size are likely to cause significant environmental and social impact, and
  • Regulation on Liability for Environmental Damage – Presidential Decree No. 194/11 of 7 July 2011

There are also some relevant statutes on waste management, water pollution control, liability for environmental damage and environmental protection in the course of oil activities.

Argentina

Argentina

There are three levels of legislation that deal with environmental issues affecting building works. The first is the federal level, which mainly deals with the environmental targets and general policies of the national government regarding the environment. The second level is the state or provincial level. There are 23 autonomous states/provinces in Argentina and one autonomous district (City of Buenos Aires). Each of the states/provinces has enacted different statutes, which comply with the general provisions set forth at the federal level. The third level is the local level or municipality level, and depends on each state/province internal organisation. Generally speaking, each municipality has some degree of autonomy, so each municipality deals with their local environmental issues, these regulations may not contravene any disposition set forth at the provincial or federal level. 

Federal Legislation:

  • Statute on Hazardous Waste No. 24,051: This statute regulates hazardous wastes, their transportation, management, disposition, license requirements of its operators and liabilities standards for those generating hazardous waste or not complying with the law provision.
  • General Environmental Act. 25,675. This statue provides for the basis of the national environmental policies and the budget to be assigned to environmental protection and improvement at the national level. The main objective of the statute is to guarantee the right to a healthy, balanced and suitable environment for human development for present and future generations. It applies to the entire Argentine territory.

Province of Buenos Aires:

  • Act No. 14,343; Act No. 11, 723 on Protection, Conservation, Improvement and Restoration of Natural Resources and the Environment. The purpose of this law is to regulate the identification of environmental liabilities and the obligation to remediate contaminated sites or areas posing a risk to public health, with the aim of mitigating adverse impacts on the environment.
  • Act No. 5,965 on the Protection of Water and the Atmosphere; Resolution 95/14 sets forth guidelines for site remediation activities. This act and its regulation prohibit disposing of any material that may negatively affect the atmosphere or water reserve of the Province of Buenos Aires. It also provides that no municipality may grant a construction permit for any project that doesn’t comply with the provisions of the act. Municipalities are in charge of monitoring and enforcing this act. It also sets a fee to be paid by anyone that fails to comply with it (current fee amounts are subject to be determined and subject to constant updates).

City of Buenos Aires:

  • Resolution 326/13 sets forth sets forth guidelines for preparing environmental information studies and environmental remediation plans for potentially contaminated sites with hydrocarbons, though this has broader applications.
Australia

Australia

Water

Water quality is protected by water-related State Acts and Regulations which control issues such as pollution, surface water, groundwater and discharge to sewers.

Waste

A wide range of duty-of-care legislation controls the generation, transportation and disposal of waste. Every business is legally obliged to ensure its waste is handled and disposed of safely. State environmental protection legislation requires that commercial construction projects have a site waste management plan, to be kept updated throughout the project.

Environmental impact assessments

Under state local planning legislation, a construction project likely to have significant effect on the environment by virtue of factors such as its nature, size or location may require an environmental impact assessment before planning permission is granted. There is also Commonwealth legislation (such as the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act) which regulates approvals required for projects which may have an impact on matters of national environmental significance.

Sustainable development

Energy-efficient buildings are becoming an increasing focus for the government, developers, investors, builders and prospective tenants.

A number of green rating schemes currently operate in Australia across a range of development types. The two most prominent are:

  1. The Green Star rating scheme operated by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA).
  2. The National Australian Built Environment Rating System administered nationally by the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage, on behalf of the Commonwealth, state and territory governments. (NABERS).

Green Star is a national and voluntary environmental rating scheme. The main categories of Green Star rating evaluate the environmental design of buildings at a conceptual stage and at an as-built stage. The Green Star Communities rating tool assesses the impact of operations on their local community. These rating tools assess a building or a development’s potential to reduce its environmental impact, rather than its operation.

The Green Star Performance rating tool, introduced in October 2013, measures the potential environmental impact of a building in relation to nine building element categories, namely management, indoor environment quality, energy use, transport, water use, land use and ecology, materials, emissions, and innovation in process and design. The Green Star Communities rating tool uses five categories governance, liveability, economic prosperity, environment and innovation.

NABERS is a national performance-based, voluntary rating system for existing buildings, tenancies and homes. It rates an existing building on the basis of its measured operational impacts on the environment.

NABERS has been adopted as the tool for assessing the energy efficiency of buildings for the Commercial Building Disclosure scheme which requires mandatory assessments prior to the leasing, subleasing or sale of commercial buildings of more than 2,000m2.

Construction projects may also be required to meet any sustainable development objectives contained within the relevant regional/area development plan.

Belgium

Belgium

In the Flemish, Walloon and Brussels Capital Regions, the European directive regarding ‘Environmental Impact Assessment Directive’ (Directive 85/337/EC, consolidated as Directive 2011/92/EU) and ‘Strategic Environmental Assessment’ (Directive 2001/12/EC) are applicable to regional law. This means that for certain kinds of individual infrastructure projects, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is required and is integrated into the building and/or environmental permit procedure. For zoning plans (plans that define the public planning prescriptions that apply in a certain area), an EIA is also required, except in certain well-defined circumstances.

In the Flanders Region, the EIA legislation is contained in the Decree of 5 April 1995 containing the general principles of environmental policy (Title IV), together with its executive decrees.

In the Walloon Region, the EIA for projects and plans is integrated by the Environmental Codex of 27 May 2004 and its Executive Decrees.

In the Brussels Capital Region, the EIA for projects is included in the Environmental Permit Decree of 5 June 1997, and the EIA for plans and programmes is included in the Decree of 18 March 2004 regarding EIA for certain plans and programmes.

It is important to note that this legislation has been modified, since the European Court of Justice ruled in a judgement of 24 March 2011 (C-435/09, European Commission/ Belgium), that the EIA legislation in the Regions was not in compliance with EU law. By the Decree of 23 March 2012 the Flemish Region adapted its EIA regulation to comply with the judgement. From then on, smaller-scale projects that previously were excluded from the EIA requirement, will be screened for the need for a full EIA. This means that currently, there are EIA-mandatory projects, EIA-exempt projects and projects requiring screening in the Flemish Region.

Bosnia-Herzegovina

Bosnia-Herzegovina

The Law on Urban Development Land and the Law on Environmental Protection contain provisions which deal with environmental issues affecting building works.

Brazil

Brazil

There are many specific technical rules dealing with environmental issues that apply. The main federal law that regulates obtaining environmental licenses for carrying out works is Law No. 6,938/1981. The law provides for the necessary procedures for buildings potentially harmful to the environment to obtain their licenses, which will provide for the undertaking's obligations and restrictions in relation to construction.

It’s important to highlight that according to article 60 of Law No. 9.605/1998, the construction, renovation or expansion of potentially polluting establishments without obtaining environmental licenses is considered a crime.

Canada

Canada

General

Most provinces and territories have their own Environmental Assessment Act. In addition, there is a federal act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act applies to designated projects and provides for input from certain authorities on the environmental protection that needs to be considered and carried out during a designated project. The act also promotes communication and cooperation with Aboriginal peoples and promotes sustainable development.

Water

The main statute dealing with water quality in Canada is the Canada Water Act, which contains provisions for formal consultation and agreements with the provinces. There are a number of other federal and provincial/territorial statutes and regulations that deal with environmental impact on water and protection of bodies of water.

Waste

A wide range of federal and provincial/territorial legislation controls the generation, transportation, and disposal of waste, including hazardous waste and construction and demolition debris. There may be additional requirements in dealing with the disposal of hazardous materials.

Sustainable Development

Energy-efficient buildings are becoming an increasing focus for the government, developers, investors, builders and prospective tenants.

A number of green rating schemes currently operate in Canada across a range of development types, such as the LEED Canada Rating System and BREEAM.

Construction projects may also be required to meet any sustainable development objectives contained within the relevant regional/area development plan.

China

China

Environmental laws relating to promoting sustainable developments exist at a local level only.

Colombia

Colombia

To reduce the environmental impact of the construction sector in the development of infrastructure projects, the Colombian legal framework has issued the following regulations:

  • Guide for water and energy efficiency in buildings (Guía para el ahorro de agua y energía en edificaciones) – Resolution 0549 of 2015. On 10 July 2015, the Ministry of Housing, Cities and Territory (Ministerio de Vivienda, Ciudad y Territorio – Minvivienda) issued Resolution 0549 to adopt the Guide for Water and Energy Building Conservation as a tool for constructors to implement sustainable construction strategies trough energy efficiency and water conservation.
    The guide sets out measures to be incorporated into the initial architectural design and interior structure of buildings. These measures are also classified according to their water/energy efficiency potential, the cost of implementation, availability on the market, environmental impact and effectiveness.
    On the other hand, the guide specifies mandatory saving percentages for different types of buildings such as offices, hotels, schools, hospitals, among others. However, despite its implementation, the Ministry has not structured a mechanism that ensures its effective application throughout the country.
  • Colombian Technical Standard – NTC No. 6112 of 2016
    This standard has adopted the Colombian Environmental Seal (Sello Ambiental Colombiano or SAC) which certifies compliance with environmental criteria for the design and construction of sustainable building infrastructure in Colombia. Any product that is certified with the SAC complies with aspects such as:
    • sustainable use of natural resources
    • use of materials with low environmental impact
    • sustainable production processes
    • implementation of recycling, reuse, or biodegradability measures, among others.

    Its implementation allows the construction sector to improve its environmental performance, reduce its impacts and enhance the quality of life of users, as well as increasing its competitiveness on the market.

  • CONPES 3919 of 2018 – National Sustainable building Policy (Política Nacional de Edificaciones Sostenibles)
    With this policy the Colombian government aims to promote the inclusion of sustainability criteria during the lifespan of buildings, through instruments that allow the implementation of sustainable construction initiatives on national territory. It also aims to fulfil the government’s international commitments to sustainable development, particularly regarding the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It articulates existing initiatives, through short- and medium-term actions aimed at laying the foundations for fostering development of a sustainable infrastructure market in Colombia.
    To achieve this, the policy proposes different measures with the support of different state entities, such as The Ministry of Housing, Cities and Territory, which will be in charge of the development of environmental criteria and the implementation of the regulatory adjustments required for its implementation. On the other hand, the Ministry of Mines and Energy (Ministerio de Minas y Energía – MME), will help local authorities regarding the application of mining authorizations and regulations to improve the extraction of stone materials for constructions process. Some of the criteria established in this Policy involve:
    • complying with land use plans (Planes de ordenamiento territorial);
    • including facilities for the use of low and zero-emission vehicle technologies;
    • implementing preventive measures against pollution in construction processes;
    • implementing sustainable drainage systems and
    • implementing measures to reduce the use of natural resources such as water and energy.

    However, the lack of implementation of the existing regulations such as Resolution 0549 of 2015, and weak inter-institutional coordination for the effective implementation of sustainable construction initiatives, make it necessary to develop new regulatory and institutional transition strategies to implement this policy.

Croatia

Croatia

The Regulation on the Evaluation of the Impact of an Intervention on the Environment regulates the manner in which a study of the impact on the environment has to be made as well as the art of evaluation and final assessment of the envisaged intervention. As of 1 April 2010, all new buildings are required to have an energy certificate. Existing (old) buildings which are sold or leased have to be certified from 1 July 2013.

Czech Republic

Czech Republic

Environmental protection generally

The environment is protected in particular by:

  • Act No. 114/1992 (the Protection of Nature and Landscape Act)
  • Act No. 17/1992 (the Environmental Act)
  • Act No. 167/2008 (the Enviromental Harm Prevention and Remedy Act)
  • Act No. 334/1992 (theAgricultural Land Fund Protection Act)

Water

Water quality is protected by water related Acts and Regulations which control issues such as pollution, surface water, groundwater and discharge to sewers.

Air

Air quality is protected in particular by the Air Protection Act, which came into effect on 1 September 2012.

Waste

These issues are governed by the Waste Act, as amended.

Environmental impact assessments

The Czech Republic has been bound by the 1991 Convention on the assessment of environmental impact since 2001. In the Czech Republic, this field is regulated mainly by the relevant statute, namely, the Environmental Impact Assessment Act.

Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control – IPPC

For a certain group of projects, specifieed by law, such as industrial plants, there is a special process of authorization required. This authorization process, based generally on the principle of best available techniques, is set by European regulation and governed by the Integrated Pollution Prevention Act.

Denmark

Denmark

The Environmental Protection Act, dated 25 November 2019, regulates environmental matters and sustainability on construction. The Act provides conditions on how companies should be aware of the environment when producing and building etc.

France

France

Under French law, in principle, environmental issues are governed by the French Environmental Code (Code de l’environnement). However, some environmental issues are dealt in specific regulations, such as those dealing with the management of hazardous waste and waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE).

Other issues of interest may include the French Forest Code and the Constitutional Environmental Charter.

Sustainable development

In recognition of the need for sustainable development, the Grenelle de l’Environnement law, which was passed on 3 August 2009 (Grenelle 1), is aimed, in particular to enable standards for lower energy emission to be applied generally in new housing and public buildings, as well as setting up incentives for the renovation of various facilities.

The Grenelle 2 law, passed on 12 July 2010, also known as the national commitment to the environment, gives effect to the principles and directions laid down by the Grenelle Environmental Forum (Grenelle de l’environnement).

The Grenelle 2 law consists of six ‘pillars’, one of them being ‘improving the energy performance of buildings’. The aim is to reduce the energy consumption of existing buildings by 38% by 2020.

The Elan Law passed on 23 November 2018 modified the schedule for the implementation of the energy efficiency works in the tertiary sector by setting the first deadline at 2030 while maintaining the overall ambition of a 40% reduction in energy expenses (50% in 2040 and 60% in 2050) compared to 2010. It also planned to modulate the performance objective according to the size of the building.

This ambition was reaffirmed by the Energy-Climate Law passed on 8 November 2019, which aims for carbon neutrality in 2050, and then by the Climate-Resilience Law passed on 22 August 2021, which plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by year 2030.

Germany

Germany

In particular, the following legal frameworks deal with environmental assessment and sustainability with regard to various aspects of construction projects, mainly as a consequence of stipulations made by the European Community:

Building and construction materials

In compliance with the EU Construction Products Directive aimed at encouraging the sustainable use of natural resources, the Construction Product Law (Bauproduktengesetz 2015) regulates the use of construction products and the application of the CE conformity mark in relation to the free movement of construction products within the European Community. In addition, other legal frameworks setting out requirements for the actual use of construction products, such as the building codes of the Federal States (Bauordnung), remain applicable.

Energy performance of buildings

The Energy Saving Ordinance (Energieeinsparungsverordnung – ENEV), which is based on the Energy Saving Law (Energieeinsparungsgesetz) sets out a framework to calculate the energy performance of buildings and the setting of minimum energy performance requirements. Separate requirements are set for new and existing buildings. In addition a new scheme of energy certificates has been introduced.

In May 2010, the European Parliament passed a Directive concerning the improvement of the energy efficiency of all buildings from 2021. Thereafter, the European Member States must introduce legislation securing the high standard for all buildings from 2021. Under others new buildings must be supplied with a higher share of renewable energy. This applies for public buildings already from 2018.

The German government worked on a new energy concept with a 10-point immediate action programme (28 September 2010). However, energy saving in buildings is a longer-term project and is therefore not covered in the immediate action programme. It is anticipated to reduce the demand for energy for building by 20% until 2020 and by 80% until 2050. New buildings must comply with the new high standards. Existing buildings have a grace period. The state will introduce incentives, but there will be no penalties. In case the redevelopment of a building to the high standards is uneconomic it is discussed to provide incentives for replacement building.

Both the Energy Saving Law and the Energy Saving Ordinance have been amended in order to achieve higher standards in the energy performance of buildings (the most recent version in force being dated 28 October 2015). The provisions of the Energy Saving Law,the Energy Saving Ordinance and the Renewable Energy Heating Law (Erneuerbare-Energien-Wärmegesetz) have been merged in the Building Energy Act (Gebäude Energie Gesetz), which came into effect on 1 November 2020. The Building Energy Act creates a uniform, coordinated set of rules for the energy requirements for new buildings, for existing buildings and for the use of renewable energies to supply heating and cooling to buildings. It fully implements the European requirements for the energy performance of buildings and defines the requirements for a low energy building. The Building Energy Act applies to construction projects for which a building application has been submitted with effect as of 1 November 2020. For all construction projects for which a building application has been submitted by 31 October 2020, the provisions from the Energy Saving Ordinance, the Energy Saving Law and the Renewable Energy Heating Law still apply.

In addition, the Renewable Energy Heating Law (Erneuerbare-Energien-Wärmegesetz), which applies to buildings erected after 1 January 2009 as well as to buildings held by public authorities and fundamentally refurbished after 1 May 2011, ensures that by 2020 at the latest 14% of the heating and hot water energy in Germany will be provided by renewable energy sources. In order to achieve this, the law contains obligations to use renewable energy sources and provisions relating to financial promotion and the expansion of heat networks by local authorities. It entitles the Federal States to implement laws which provide also that existing buildings must use renewable energy sources. From 1 November 2020 this law was replaced by the Building Energy Act as well.

Since the beginning of 2022, solar energy for buildings has been mandatory in some federal states. In Baden-Württemberg, for example, since 1 January 2022 there has been an obligation to install photovoltaic systems on all newly built non-residential buildings. From 1 May 2022, this regulation also applies to residential buildings that are newly built. Other federal states, including Berlin and Hamburg, have already passed corresponding laws. However, they will not apply until 2023.

The Energy Heating Law in its most current version from 2023 provides for an even more consistent switch to renewable energies and including an increase in the share of electricity from renewable energies to 80%, by 2030. Also, there are further regulations regarding the reduction of the permissible annual primary energy requirement for new buildings, adjustment of the simplified verification procedure for residential buildings, introduction of a primary energy factor for electricity for the operation of large heat pumps connected to the heating grid etc.

ISO standard for energy efficient buildings (06/06/2011)

The German Institute for Standardisation (Deutsches Institut für Normierung e.V.) as a member of the ISO releases standards which become binding administrative regulations for construction works and products by virtue of references in legal frameworks.

Other standards

The German Society for Sustainable Construction (Deutsche Gesellschaft für nachhaltiges Bauen e.V.) has, together with the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs, developed a certification system for buildings with regard to energy efficiency, hazardous substances and environmental requirements etc (Deutsches Gütesiegel Nachhaltiges Bauen). This certification system is not (as) yet binding, but may, however, give a competitive advantage. Besides the DGNB certificate, other certificate can be found on the German market such as BREEAM or LEED.

There are several more statutory regulations dealing with dangerous substances and chemicals (ie contaminated sites and ground water) which are, however, not directly linked to sustainable buildings.

Hong Kong, SAR

Hong Kong, SAR

There is Government control via:

  • Licensing mechanisms eg noise control permits, discharge sciences;
  • Town planning and building laws; and
  • Criminal offences prosecuted by government authorities (eg Police, Environmental Protection Department, Labour Department).

The main Ordinances are:

  • The Ozone Zone Layer Protection Ordinance (Cap. 403 of the Laws of Hong Kong) which controls the production, import and export of products containing ozone depleting substances
  • The Dumping At Sea Ordinance (Cap. 466 of the Laws of Hong Kong) which regulates the marine dumping and related loading operations
  • The Hazardous Chemicals Control Ordinance (Cap. 595 of the Laws of Hong Kong) which regulates the import, export, manufacture and use of non-pesticide hazardous chemicals that have harmful effects on the environment
  • The Air Pollution Control Ordinance (Cap. 311 of the Laws of Hong Kong) which regulates the emission of air pollutants from a polluting process
  • The Noise Control Ordinance (Cap. 400 of the Laws of Hong Kong)
  • The Waste Disposal Ordinance (Cap. 354 of the Laws of Hong Kong) which regulates chemical waste, illegal dumping and livestock waste
  • The Water Pollution Control Ordinance (Cap. 358 of the Laws of Hong Kong) which regulates pollution in the waters of Hong Kong
  • The Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance (Cap. 499 of the Laws of Hong Kong) which provides for the assessment of the environmental impact of 'designated projects' as prescribed under the ordinance.
  • The Product Eco-Responsibility Ordinance (Cap. 603) which provide measures to minimize the environmental impact of certain types of products, including vehicle tyres, electrical and electronic equipment and packaging materials.
Hungary

Hungary

The main legislation in this regard is the Environmental Protection Act (Act LIII of 1995). There are several other statutory regulations in relation to air and water protection and the disposal of waste, including construction waste.

In Hungary, the ‘polluter pays’ principle applies. The owners and, if different from the owners, possessors (users) of land have joint and several liability for environmental damage or the endangering of the environment on that land. The owner may only be relieved of environmental liability if it is able to prove that it did not itself cause the damage and names the person actually liable for the pollution.

In certain cases, where the construction project is likely to have a significant impact on the environment, an environmental impact assessment must precede the construction works.

Ireland

Ireland

Air and water

Air emissions are regulated by the Air Pollution Act 1987 (as amended). Water pollution is regulated by the Local Government (Water Pollution) Act 1977 and the Local Government (Water Pollution) (Amendment) Act 1990 (as amended). The legislation covers the issue of licences, discharge of effluent to sewers etc.

Emissions are controlled by way of the issue of licences by the Environmental Protection Agency. Part IV of the Environmental Protection Agency Act 1992 (the 1992 Act) originally set out the basis on which the Agency may police and prosecute licence holders for failure to comply with licence conditions. Section 15 of the Protection of the Environment Act 2003 (as amended) (the 2003 Act) has since replaced Part IV of the 1992 Act. Section 86(1)(a)(iv) of the 1992 Act (as inserted by the 2003 Act) requires that it may be a condition in each licence that each Licence Holder monitor and report emissions to the Agency. It further requires a Licence Holder to confirm to the Agency whether he has complied with the licence conditions and if he has not, to indicate in what respect he has not complied. Failure to comply with the conditions attached to a licence is an offence under the 2003 Act.

Waste

The Waste Management Act 1996 and the Waste Management (Amendment) Act 2001 provides the statutory basis for waste management in Ireland.

Environmental Impact Assessments

The 1992 Act sets out the basis for Environmental Impact Assessments/Statements (EIA and EIS, respectively). On larger, strategic national infrastructure projects, an EIS is required as part of the planning process pursuant to the Planning and Development (Strategic Infrastructure) Act 2006.

Sustainability

The environmental requirements for building works in Ireland are governed primarily by primary legislation. Secondary legislation exists governing the energy performance of buildings in accordance with the EC Energy Performance of Buildings Regulation 2006. The European Communities (Energy Performance of Buildings) Regulations 2008 require that a 'Building Energy Rating Certificate' is provided in the sale or letting of all buildings, new and old. The certificate is effectively an energy label which is issued on foot of a report which sets out recommendations for cost-effective methods of improving the energy rating of the building. However, the recommendations are not binding.

The government has introduced a number of strategies to promote sustainable development. The first such strategy was published in 1997 and was updated in 2002, 2008 and again in 2012.

Italy

Italy

Legislative Decree 152/2006 provides for a list of building works that may have a potential impact on the environment (eg oil refineries or other specific infrastructures).

Depending on the type of town planning provision issued in order to authorize the construction of the building works, the following activities could be required to be carried out:

  • Should the building works be carried out on the basis of a Town Planning Plan or Program, the approval of such plan or program is subject to a strategic environmental evaluation (VAS), whose main purpose is to provide the public authorities with an overall assessment of the sustainability of the plan or program from an environmental point of view also in consideration of town planning considerations.
  • Furthermore, should the building works be carried out pursuant to a specific project, such project is subject to an environmental impact evaluation (VIA), whose main purpose is to provide the authorities with an overall assessment of the environmental impact of the single project and of its modalities of execution.
  • Lastly, if the plan, project or intervention is likely to have a significant impact on a Natura 2000 site, it is subject to an impact assessment (VIC). It analyses possible negative interferences on the Natura 2000 site, considering possible joint effects of other plans or projects, to assess cumulative impacts that often occur over time.
Japan

Japan

The general legislations dealing with environmental issues and promoting sustainable development for building construction are as follows:

  • Soil Contamination Countermeasures Act – Under this act, a person who intends to develop a land which is 3,000 square meters or more must submit a notification to the relevant local government at least 30 days prior to commencement of the land development. The land developer must conduct soil contamination investigation in the case where the relevant local government determines there is a danger that the land is contaminated.
  • Air Pollution Act – This act requires construction companies to take measures necessary to prevent scattering asbestos or dust at construction sites;
  • Noise Regulation Act – This act prohibits construction companies from carrying out certain noise-producing building works in certain areas specified in the act.  Construction companies must also submit a notification to the relevant local government prior to any construction work using a large machinery, piling machine, etc.; and
  • Vibration Regulation Act – This act prohibits construction companies from carrying out certain vibration-producing building works in certain areas specified in the act.  Construction companies must also submit a notification to the relevant local government prior to any construction using a piling machine, etc.
Netherlands

Netherlands

The Buildings Decree 2012 (Bouwbesluit 2012) prescribes the minimum construction requirements that all structures in the Netherlands must meet. These requirements concern safety, health, usefulness, energy efficiency and the environment. In addition, all municipalities apply additional rules in local building regulations. These rules differ between municipalities. For office buildings, an obligation applies to have at least label C, and per 2030 label A.

Under the Decree on the Energy Performance of Buildings (Besluit energieprestatie gebouwen) for every house or building that is to be sold or let, an energy performance certificate (describing the energy efficiency of the building) must be present.

The Environmental Protection Act (Wet Milieubeheer) and the Law on Water (Waterwet) are also relevant in this area. Rules also apply in respect of the storage and disposal of waste and/or pollution.

The Nature Conservation Act (Wet natuurbescherming) can also play a relevant role in building activities. This Act provides for protection of animal and plant species by regulating or preventing activities that (may) have significant negative effects on the flora and fauna nearby a development. The past few years, this legislation has become increasingly important in relation to the impact of nitrogen emissions due to the construction and/or operation of a property or other works and the (negative) effects thereof on (preserved) Natura 2000-areas.

New Zealand

New Zealand

The Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) regulates and promotes the interaction between infrastructure development and the use of natural and physical resources. The RMA is based on the idea of sustainably managing the use, development and protection of these natural resources and enables local authorities to regulate activities that will affect the environment according to their local context. A resource consent application must be accompanied by an Assessment of Environmental Effects (AEE). A resource consent issued by a local authority certifies that the proposed activity does not detrimentally affect the environment or surrounding communities, or that if it does, it can be remedied or mitigated.

Separate from the resource consent and AEE process, the National Environmental Standards (NES) are regulations made under the RMA, that establish planning requirements and technical standards on specified activities that have an effect on the environment.

Sustainability imperatives are also important to residential developments. For example, the Unit Titles Act 2010 governs certain types of high-density residential developments. One of its purposes is to promote and facilitate socially and economically sustainable developments.

Nigeria

Nigeria

There are several environmental legislations enacted for the purpose of regulating and enforcing public policy on environmental protection and sustainability. The various States have specific environmental laws replicating the Federal Act with slight modifications. The environmental legislations in Nigeria include the Environmental Impact Assessment Act, the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency Act (NESREA Act) and the Harmful Waste (Special Criminal Provisions,) Act 1998.

The National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) established under the NESREA Act has developed several Environmental Regulations targeted at particular areas of concern and published in the Federal Government Gazettes. More specific to the Construction sector, there is the National Environmental (Construction Sector) Regulations, which purpose is to regulate and minimize environmental hazards such as pollution from construction, decommissioning and demolition activities. Also, the National Building Code makes provisions for environmental issues relating to building construction.

At the Federal and the States levels, there are established specific government Ministries, Departments and Agencies tasked with oversight and implementation of environmental regulations.

In Lagos State, for example, there is the Environmental Management and Protection Law, 2017 with the Ministry of Environment and the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) responsible for enforcement of all policies on the environment.

Norway

Norway

Norway has some of the strictest technical construction requirements in Europe.

The Planning and Building Act of 2008 and the Pollution Act of 1981, together with various regulations, contain provisions which aim to protect the environment. Protection of the environment is also constitutional (see the Norwegian Constitution of 1814).

These provisions contain requirements for buildings/construction projects and for products used in buildings/construction projects. The aim is to reduce pollution during the building phase and during the building's lifetime. For instance, requirements are set regarding the energy consumption and the environmental impact of the building materials used, the completed building's indoor environment, energy used during its lifetime and the impact on the external environment.

A breach of environmental regulations may give rise to criminal liability.

Poland

Poland

In Poland the following major acts deal with environmental issues affecting building works:

  • Environment Protection Law 
  • Water Law 
  • Waste Law
  • Revitalisation Law
Portugal

Portugal

In Portugal the environmental law framework that governs construction developments reflects European Law principles. The main statutes are:

  • Decree-Law No. 142/2008, of 24 July 2008, as amended, that establishes the legal framework for the conservation of nature and biodiversity.
  • Decree-Law No. 194/2009, of 20 August 2009, as amended, that establishes the legal regime for municipal public water supply, wastewater sanitation and urban waste management services.
  • Decree-Law No. 151-B/2013, of 31 October 2013, as amended, that establishes the legal framework for the environmental impact assessment (EIA) of public and private projects that are likely to have significant effects on the environment.
  • Law No. 19/2014, of 14 April 2014, that establishes the bases of the environment policy.

There are also other relevant statutes on

  • waste management;
  • noise pollution;
  • air quality;
  • the use of water areas;
  • water quality;
  • specially protected areas (such as national parks and national reserves);
  • ecological and agricultural reserves; and
  • energy certification of buildings.

Decree-Law No. 68-A/2015, of 30 April 2015, as amended, implemented the mandatory energy audit requirements contained in the Directive 2012/27/EC on Energy Efficiency. Under this Decree-Law, companies that are not SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) are subject to an energy audit of, among other assets, buildings and vehicles, before 5 December 2015 and at least every four years from the date of the previous energy audit.

Romania

Romania

Making preliminary contact with the competent environmental authority is a mandatory prerequisite for the issue of a building permit. At that stage, the authority will make an initial assessment of the investment in order to establish if an environmental impact study is necessary.

If an environmental study is necessary, it will need to be prepared by the client/employer in accordance with environmental regulations.

An environmental approval document is an essential part of the documentation that must be filed to obtain a building permit and the requirements imposed by the environmental approval must be fulfilled. The competent authority issuing the building permit will refuse any building permit application which does not have a full set of supporting documents, including the environmental authority's authorization.

Slovak Republic

Slovak Republic

Environment generally

Act No. 17/1992 Coll. on Environment as amended contains basic principles of protection of the environment in order to ensure and promote a sustainable development.

Act. No. 543/2002 Coll. on the Protection of Nature and Landscape as amended provides for the powers of the relevant statutory bodies and the basic obligations of individuals and legal persons to protect nature and the landscape.

Air

Air legislation, such as the Act on Air Protection and the Act on Payments for Air Pollution regulate emissions of environmentally harmful gases, dark smoke and other airborne pollutants.

Water

Water quality is protected by Act No. 364/2004 Coll. on Water as amended, which controls issues such as pollution, surface water, groundwater and discharge to sewers.

Waste

On 1 January 2016, a new Act on Waste, which amends and supplements previous legislation, became effective. This provides for the general regulation of waste management in Slovakia. Every business is legally obliged to ensure its waste is handled and disposed of safely in accordance with this legislation.

Act No. 329/2018 Coll. on Waste Deposit Fees as amended governs the payments of charges for the deposit of waste at landfills and tailings ponds.

Environmental impact assessments

Under Act No. 24/2006 Coll. on Environmental Impact Assessment, a construction project that is likely to have a significant effect or impact on the environment by virtue of factors such as its nature, size or location may require an environmental impact assessment before a zoning permit is granted.

Spain

Spain

Land

The Land Pollution Act controls pollution of land due to uncontrolled waste.

Air

Legislation on air quality, such as the Air Quality Act controls emissions of environmentally harmful gases, smoke and other airborne pollutants.

Water

Water quality is protected by water related Acts and Regulations which control issues such as pollution, surface water, groundwater and discharge to sewers.

Waste

A wide range of duty of care legislation controls the generation, transportation and disposal of waste ensuring that the waste is handled and disposed of safely.

Environmental impact assessments

The Environmental Impact Act regulates the procedure for the analysis and correction of the effects of a construction project which is likely to have a significant effect on the environment by virtue of factors such as its nature, size or location. Such projects may require an environmental impact assessment before planning permission is granted.

Sustainable development

In recognition of the need for sustainable development, minimum energy requirements for new and refurbished buildings are contained in the Spanish Technical Construction Code and the Energy Efficiency Act.

Many regulations have been developed and supplemented at a regional level.

Royal Decree 235/2013, of 5 April (now replaced by Royal Decree 390/2021, of 1 June), which introduced Energy Performance Certificates established that as from 1 June 2013 buyers and/or tenants of housing, retail and office buildings must be provided with an Energy Performance Certificate, allowing them to compare and evaluate the energy efficiency and CO2 emissions of buildings, or their individual units.

This Certificate is not required for all buildings: Paragraph 2 of Section 3 of Royal Decree 390/2021 excludes (i) protected buildings, provided that the Energy Performance Certificate would unacceptably alter their character or appearance; (ii) temporary buildings with an expected period of use of two (2) years or less; (iii) non-residential industrial, military and agricultural buildings, or parts thereof, with low energy demand; (iv) free-standing buildings, i.e. not in contact with other buildings and with a total useful floor area of less than 50 sqm. and (v) buildings that are purchased for demolition or for the purpose of renovation.

Finally, Law 8/2013 of 26 June, on rehabilitation, regeneration and urban reform sets out the basic regulations for environmentally friendly development in urban projects and promotes rehabilitation, reform and regeneration of the urban fabric in order to provide citizens with adequate living standards. This law forms part of the amended text approved by Royal Legislative Decree 7/2015, the 30th October, which amends the Rehabilitation Law and the Spanish Building Act.

Sweden

Sweden

The Environmental Code (Miljöbalken) deals with all environmental issues affecting building works. The purpose of the Environmental Code is to promote a sustainable development that leads to a healthy environment for coming generations. The Environmental Code is to be applied so that human health and the environment are protected against pollution and other environmental hazards. For this purpose, the Environmental Code includes, for instance, regulations regarding environmental liabil-ity, environmental impact assessments and environmental licensing.

Thailand

Thailand

Certain projects or developments require that an environmental impact assessment report (EIA report) is approved before construction of a building can be commenced. This is in accordance with the applicable Notification issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment regarding ‘Types and Sizes of Projects or Operations which are required to prepare Environmental Impact Assessment Report which is enacted under the National Environmental Quality Act B.E. 2535(1992).

United Arab Emirates - Abu Dhabi

United Arab Emirates - Abu Dhabi

Environmental protection is governed by the Ministry of Environment and Water (MEW) federally. The MEW is empowered to delegate its powers to a 'Competent Authority' for each emirate, and the Environmental Agency of Abu Dhabi is tasked as being the Competent Authority for all environmental protection laws and regulations within the emirate of Abu Dhabi (AD).

The federal laws which regulate environmental protection affecting the building and construction industry include:

  • Federal Law (24) of 1999 concerning the protection and development of the environment;
  • Federal Cabinet Resolution (37) of 2001;
  • Federal Law (23) of 1999 concerning the exploitation and protection and development of living aquatic resources; and
  • Federal Law (1) of 2002 regulating radiation.

Abu Dhabi has a significant legislative framework in relation to environmental protection. The main laws which relate to the building and construction sector are as follows:

  • Law (21) of 2005 for managing waste in Abu Dhabi
  • Law (23) of 2007 establishing the Abu Dhabi Council for Urban Planning
  • Resolution 42 of 2009 concerning the Environmental Health and Safety Management System
  • Other local regulations, decisions and orders which pertain to specific areas of environmental protection relating to building and construction.

Developers and contractors alike are required to undertake environmental impact assessments and stringent environmental protection preventative measures must be taken. ESTIDAMA, the  environmental accreditation system, is  mandatory throughout the emirate. The Urban Planning Council will normally specify as part of the approval application process which Estidama rating the project is required to meet.

Abu Dhabi has  passed legislation which initiates the Environmental Health and Safety Management System (EHSMS) for the emirate. This system requires nominated entities to create an Environmental Health and Safety Management System to comply with the AD EHSMS. As part of the AD EHSMS, a number of regulatory instruments (including Codes of Practice) have been issued and are mandatory. The current version of the AD EHSMS (including the Codes of Practice) is available on the official website of the AD EHSMS Centre.

United Arab Emirates - Dubai

United Arab Emirates - Dubai

Environmental protection is governed by the Ministry of Environment and Water (MEW) federally. The MEW is empowered to delegate its powers to a 'Competent Authority' for each emirate. The main environmental framework in Dubai is at a local level and Dubai Municipality, JAFZA and TECOM have their own relevant guidelines for their areas. The main federal laws which regulate environmental protection affecting the building and construction industry include:

  • Federal Law (24) of 1999 concerning the protection and development of the Environment (as amended by Federal Law (11) of 2006);
  • Federal Law (23) of 1999 concerning the exploitation and protection and development of Living aquatic resources (as amended by Federal Law (7) of 2016 and implemented by Ministerial Decision (21) of 2018);
  • Federal Law (1) of 2002 Regulating Radiation (as amended by Federal Law (20) of 2006);
  • the Competent Authority for Dubai is Dubai Municipality; and
  • other local regulations, decisions and orders which pertain to specific areas of environmental protection relating to building and construction.

Developers and contractors alike are required to undertake environmental impact assessments and stringent environmental protection preventative measures must be taken during the permitting and approvals process

UK - England and Wales UK - England and Wales

UK - England and Wales

Air

Air legislation, such as the Clean Air Act 1993 and Climate Change Act 2008, controls emissions of environmentally harmful gases, dark smoke and other airborne pollutants. Part 4 of the Environment Act 2021 relates to air quality and includes amendments to the Clean Air Act 1993, including powers for local authorities to impose civil penalty notices for the emission of smoke control in smoke control areas in England.

The Environment Act 2021 established the Office for Environmental Protection as an environmental watchdog responsible for taking action in relation to breaches of environmental law. It is a domestic replacement for the scrutiny function of the European Commission and European Environment Agency.

Water

Water quality is protected by water related Acts and Regulations which control issues such as pollution, surface waters, groundwater and discharge to sewers (for example, the Water Resources Act 1991).

The Environment Act 2021 established the Office for Environmental Protection as an environmental watchdog responsible for taking action in relation to breaches of environmental law. It is a domestic replacement for the scrutiny function of the European Commission and European Environment Agency. It also introduced some amendments to the Water Resources Act 1991.

Waste

A wide range of duty of care legislation controls the generation, transportation and disposal of waste. Every business is legally obliged to ensure its waste is handled and disposed of safely. Given the importance of ensuring materials are disposed of responsibly and waste minimized, contractors may be required to prepare a site waste management plan on a voluntary or contractual basis. The Environment Act 2021 was introduced to deliver on the government’s Resources and Waste Strategy. The government has identifed construction and demolition materials as a priority area for establishing an extended producer responsibility regime (meaning producers of construction products will be responsible for products to their post-use stage, with the intention of incentivising producers to make it easier for their products to be reused, dismantled or recycled).

Environmental impact assessments

Under the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (England and Wales) Regulations 2017, a construction project likely to have significant effect on the environment by virtue of factors such as its nature, size or location may require an environmental impact assessment before planning permission is granted.

Legislation protecting biodiversity, wildlife and habitats may also place constraints on how a site may be developed. Depending on the environmental protection status of a particular site, a developer may have to carry out additional surveys or assessments, or provide some form of biodiversity offsetting.

Sustainable development

In recognition of the need for sustainable development, minimum energy requirements for new and refurbished buildings are contained in the Building Regulations. Construction projects must also meet the sustainable development objectives contained within the relevant regional/area development plan. The government has announced intiatives for decarbonising heat and buildings, including phasing out gas boilers from 2035 and replacing them with heat pumps. Part L of the Building Regulations has been revised to include higher performance targets, with CO2 emissions reduced by 31% for dwellings and 27% for other buildings. This is an interim step before new standards are introduced in 2025.

UK - Scotland

UK - Scotland

Air

Air legislation, such as the Clean Air Act 1993 and Climate Change Act 2008, controls emissions of environmentally harmful gases, dark smoke and other airborne pollutants.

Water

Water quality is protected by water related Acts and Regulations which control issues such as pollution, surface waters, groundwater and discharge to sewers (for example, the Water (Scotland) Act 1980 and the Water Environment and Water Services (Scotland) Act 2003).

Waste

A wide range of duty of care legislation controls the generation, transportation and disposal of waste.

Environmental impact assessments

Under the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (Scotland) Regulations 2018/102 (Scottish SI), a construction project likely to have significant effects on the environment by virtue of factors such as its nature, size or location may require an environmental impact assessment before planning permission is granted.

Sustainable development

In recognition of the need for sustainable development, minimum energy efficiency requirements for new and refurbished buildings are contained in Section 6 of Schedule 5 of the Building (Scotland) Regulations 2004.

United States

United States

Air

Air quality is protected at the federal level by a wide range of legislation, the most prominent of which is the Clean Air Act enforced by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Clean Air Act regulates, among other things, air emissions, acid rain, ozone depletion, toxic air pollution, and auto gasoline. With respect to construction, compliance with relevant standards of the Clean Air Act is meant to reduce construction-related health risks.

Air quality regulations also are promulgated at the state and local levels, such as laws common to many states prohibiting smoking in public areas or local ordinances prohibiting the burning of certain materials, including construction debris.

Water

Water quality is protected at the federal level by a number of agencies and the military, including the

  • Department of Defense
  • US Army Corps of Engineers (Corps)
  • US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Department of the Interior
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
  • Department of Commerce
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

Depending on the site or type of construction, the regulations of any of these entities might be applicable.

Federal legislation addresses several issues that might be relevant to a construction project, including the integrity of the water supply, protection against flood and hurricane damage, pollution, surface and ground water, sewer discharge, levees, environmental restoration, protection of wetlands, dredging and filling etc. Specific legislation includes the Water Resources Development Act, the National Levee Safety Act, and the Flood Control Act. In addition, many individual states have similar legislation further protecting their own lakes, rivers and harbours.

Waste

A wide range of federal, state, and local legislation controls the generation, transportation, and disposal of waste, including hazardous waste and construction and demolition debris. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates hazardous waste, and the US Department of Transportation regulates the transportation of hazardous waste.

States are becoming active in legislating the generation, handling, and removal of demolition and construction debris, with a focus to reduce, reuse, or recycle it rather than place it in landfills. For example, CALGreen, a building code focusing on sustainability that was enacted in California requires the recycling of 65% of construction waste and in some instances the submission of a construction waste management plan or the utilization of a waste management company.

Sustainable development

Both mandatory and voluntary sustainability building requirements are being legislated at state and local levels, including CALGreen in California (described immediately above). While 65% recycling of construction waste is mandatory under CALGreen, a higher percentage is preferred but voluntary. In addition, certifications evidencing sustainable green construction are available from third parties, including several universities. Perhaps the most well-known is LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) offered by the US Green Building Council, which uses a rating system to certify a newly constructed or rehabilitated building as a sustainable green building.

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe

Environmental protection issues are provided for in the Environmental Management Act [Chapter 20.27]. The Environmental Management Agency (EMA) does however take the lead role in ensuring that individuals and companies comply with this legislation.

Waste

The Environmental Management (Effluents and Solid Waste Disposal) Regulations, 2007 regulates the disposal of effluent and solid waste and provides for the procedure in the event of accidental spillages.

Environmental Impact Assessments

In terms of the Environmental Management Act [Chapter 20:27] and the Environmental Management (Environmental Impact Assessment & Ecosystems Protection) Regulations, SI 7 of 2007, housing developments, and commercial industrial plants, tourist resorts and recreational developments among other developments require an Environmental Impact Assessment to be conducted by EMA.