Institutional Barriers to Near Zero-Energy Housing: A Context Specific Approach

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After more than ten years since the introduction of Near Zero-Energy Buildings (NZEBs), the transition towards a zero-energy new built environment can still be considered slow despite European Member States’ various efforts to facilitate, promote and accelerate their implementation and uptake. The barriers to sustainability measures in general and NZEBs in particular have been extensively explored by academic literature and despite different research scopes, perspectives, locations and times, previous studies have reached similar outcomes. Similar barriers were perceived by different housing professionals in different geographic contexts and these same barriers also persisted through time. This study argues that while this could be interpreted as a validation of outcomes, it also underlines a limitation resulting from a general level of analysis. Thus, this study contributes to the discussion by adopting a context-specific approach in its investigation of barriers to near zero-energy housing in small towns in Flanders, Ireland and the Netherlands. The data was collected from a series of focus groups with housing professionals in Leuven, Kilkenny and Almere. Through descriptive coding, this study’s outcomes echoed previous research findings. However, a closer look through inferential coding resulted in the identification of 21 new contextual barriers leading to the formulation of more specific policy suggestions with a different allocation of precedence that depends on every context
Original languageEnglish
Article number7135
Number of pages21
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Institutional barriers
  • NZEB
  • Near zero-energy housing
  • New build housing
  • Policy suggestions
  • Upscaling


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