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Merely Fulfilling The Minimum Requirements Is Not Enough In Sustainable Construction – Construction & Planning

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Sustainability and combating climate change are the constant
subject of attention in both regulation and practice. However, the
regulation reform and amendments are raising emotional responses
and arousing discussion in the construction industry. A milestone
of sorts will be reached during this autumn as the Finnish
Government submitted to Parliament bills for a new act on
construction as well as an amendment to the Land Use and Building
Act which would repeal the current sections on construction and add
new provisions on the digitalisation of land use data. The acts are
scheduled to enter into force on 1 January 2024.

New regulation to set requirements for sustainable

The reformation of the Land Use and Building Act planned earlier
received a lot of feedback when it was circulated for comments.
According to the release by the Ministry of the Environment,
the comments were mostly positive about the proposals for
promoting low-carbon construction, circular economy and
“, and these proposals are still included
in the reform. However, for example the mandatory liability periods
which we criticised earlier in our blog have been removed.

Regulation on the EU-level will also be reformed due to the Fit
for 55 legislative package and the REPowerEU plan, among other
things. Amendments are planned to the Energy Performance of
Buildings Directive and the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II),
for example. These amendments would result in changes to the
requirements for the heating and cooling of buildings and the share
of renewable energy used in buildings.

Clearly, the new regulation is meant to promote sustainable
construction. However, from the perspective of 2024, the regulation
may not present a particularly ambitious level of sustainable
construction. In this respect, it will be hopelessly lagging, even
though it aims to promote important sustainability goals.

The interesting question is how sustainable construction should
be approached in the different stages and roles of a construction
project now and in the future.

Is it enough to fulfil the requirements of the current or the
new regulation?

Various environmental categories and calculations are a basic
requirement in construction and its financing. Construction that is
currently underway or beginning does not need to fulfil the
requirements of the new regulation, since the regulation will only
enter into force in 2024 as things currently stand. However, a
responsible actor takes the requirements into account in the
present day.

Projects with ambitious requirements will stand out favourably
in the construction industry. In sustainable projects, there is a
will to pay more than the minimum in order to reach new goals that
are more stringent than before. If sufficiently high goals are not
set for a construction project, there will be no new development in
sustainable construction.

Fulfilling the minimum requirements is not enough in legal
advice either

Merely fulfilling the minimum requirements of legislation is not
sufficient in the future with respect to the green transition and
circular economy and thus to sustainability,
even though legislation is furthering matters along the right
lines. In the future, construction must be able to implement new
solutions that are more sustainable and more effective in combating
climate change. The same applies to lawyers along with other
advisors – we must increase our technical understanding of
the construction projects that are the objects of agreements and be
able to offer contractual provisions that take environmental and
sustainability perspectives into account.

Responsible and sustainable development should be promoted in
all areas from advice to implementation and operation while not
forgetting to account for the reuse of construction products.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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