Public building law

Building law helps conserve resources in the planning, construction or modification of residential settlementsClick to enlarge
Building law helps conserve resources in the planning, constr. or modification of residential settl.
Source: Marco2811 / Fotolia.com

The public law of local planning serves the purpose of spatial allocation and development of construction sites, roads, infrastructure and areas that are to be kept free of development.

Public building law

Building law forms the basis on which the permissible use of land is determined by type and intensity. For the municipality as a whole this takes place with the help of the land use plan. At the level of building land or individual construction projects, construction management is carried out on the basis of land-use plans or project and development plans. Urban development planning is regulated for the whole of Germany in the Federal Building Code (BauGB) and the Federal Land Utilization Ordinance (BauNVO).

By way of contrast, the building regulations of the individual Länder mainly serve the purpose of hazard prevention, e.g. fire protection. They regulate the implementation of buildings and structural works. Municipal design statutes can impose additional specifications concerning how buildings are to be designed so that they blend in with the townscape.

Construction planning law seizes on numerous facts which might ensure better protection of the environment on the way to a sustainable land use and construction industry. For example, the Federal Government's goal of reducing new land take for settlements and transport to 30 hectares per day by 2020 can be supported by strengthening internal development in urban development planning. Optimising the application of definition options in urban development plans would also help here. In this regard, the amount of newly designated land and the allowable mix of uses and density of construction (“type and extent of the use for construction”) are of particular relevance. Space-saving, compact and mixed-use districts also serve the purposes of traffic avoidance and climate protection. The increasing compression of urban core and mixed-use areas must not however be permitted at the expense of nature and biodiversity in urban areas, meaning that urban green spaces close to residential districts in particular should be preserved and expanded. This does not only improve the quality of life and time spent in densely built-up urban areas, but also promotes ventilation and cooling during summer heat waves and binds particulate matter from the ambient air.

Building law can contribute to the economical use of natural resources, for example by ensuring that buildings designed and arranged to make the access roads and paths as short as possible. It should be further developed and resource protection enshrined in the urban development mission statement. In this way, the local authorities will be able to ensure that project carriers use a particular proportion of secondary and recycled building material by determining the extent of land used for building in draft or revision procedures for development plans. In the case of urban planning contracts relating to project and development plans, this should also in be agreed as a matter of course so as to ensure that as much recycled construction material as possible is used.
Urban land-use plans and urban development contracts that take into account the aforementioned aspects would have a significant impact on the whole raw material cycle (from raw material extraction to waste recycling) and would thereby offer considerable potential for the conservation of non-renewable resources in the light of the fact that the construction sector consumes huge amounts of resources.

According to the first amendment to the Federal Building Code (BauGB) of 2011, enhanced demands on energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy in new buildings can be formulated in urban development plans alongside demands for adaptation to climate change. Here, detailed regulations can be set out in urban development agreements relating to project and development plans regarding the means by which these demands are to be satisfied.
The 2013 amendment to BauGB strengthens internal development. In addition, the legislature has improved the framework conditions for the energy-related modernisation of buildings, the promotion of renewable energy sources for electricity, heating and cooling and for adaptation to climate change. Measures for this purpose are not eligible just for financial support within the context of urban redevelopment. Excessive energy consumption or inadequate adaptation to climate change can now also be exploited as an opportunity to carry out urban renovation work.

UBA is committed to exploiting more of the as-yet untapped potential of the Federal building law to reduce land use and to contribute to achieving the objectives of climate and resource protection. To this end it is drafting strategy papers (reduction of land use for housing development and transport UBA 2003) and awarding research projects (environmental protection in planning law, Leibnitz Institute of Ecological and Regional Development (IÖR) by order of UBA 2008; climate protection in spatial planning, BKR by order of UBA 2012; UBA land trade simulation game, launched in 2012; Evaluation of the BauGB internal development amendment - case studies planned for 2016).