A Review of “Green Building” Regulations, Laws, and Standards in Latin America

Carlos Zepeda Gil, Sukumar Natarajan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Latin America covers 20% of the world’s surface but only produces 12% of global carbon emissions. However, countries such as Brazil and Argentina have seen some of the most aggressive increases in individual country CO 2 emissions over the last two decades. Given that 80% of Latin America’s population lives in cities, where we can expect the greatest increases in demand for energy and predicted growth in built floor space, it is necessary to ensure that these do not result in an overall growth in carbon emissions. Hence, we present the first review of the various “green building” rules developed in this region to curtail energy or carbon. This covers nine countries representing 80% of the region’s population. We find that these countries in Latin America have developed 94 different green building rules, though to different extents. Many pertain to domestic buildings that are known to contribute 17% of the overall carbon emissions. Subsidies and tax incentives are most common, whereas innovative carbon market schemes have only been adopted in Mexico and Chile. In Argentina and Chile, regulations are similar to their European cold-climate counterparts but are poorly enforced. Overall, we find considerable progress in Latin America to create new standards and regulations, with enforcement being a major future challenge.

Original languageEnglish
Article number188
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments: Carlos Zepeda-Gil would like to thank COMECYT (Consejo Mexiquense de Ciencia y Tecnología) for the support received under the program ‘Beca de Apoyo Extraordinario, Folio: 16BAE0007’.

Funding Information:
Funding: This research was funded by the Mexican Council of Science and Technology (CONACyT) through its programme: ‘Becas de postgrado al extranjero’, and supported by the UK’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) grant “Zero Peak Energy Building Design for India” (ZED-i, EP/R008612/1).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Building and Construction


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