Purpose: Joint building ventures are defined as an association of a group of individuals who are willing to build jointly. They can be seen as a reliable partner for municipalities in urban developments regarding sustainability aspects such as barrier-free and energy-efficient apartments as well as social housing and apartments with rent control. For various reasons, these requirements can often not be fulfilled by municipalities alone but are taken into consideration by most joint building ventures. Therefore, such projects open new possibilities to achieve individual needs and municipalities’ goals. This paper tries to show which social, ecological and economic effects arise for all stakeholders through the implementation and consideration of joint building ventures in urban developments.

Design: The study adopts a qualitative approach, using semi-structured interviews. The interviews were conducted with different stakeholder groups such as potential home owners and tenants, actual members of joint building ventures, agencies for joint building ventures and employees of the city of Freiburg, Germany, which is the social context of our study. These stakeholders were purposefully selected to learn about their individual perspectives.

Findings: The study revealed that joint building ventures achieve stimulating effects on selected sustainability areas. On an ecological level it can be shown, that joint building projects focus on sustainable and energy-efficient construction as well as on integration in innovative and sustainable mobility concepts. Additionally, these approaches reveal positive economic effects for both, local authorities and their citizens. Regarding social sustainability, the results show among other things, an increase in special living arrangements such as multi-generational living, an overall enhancement of the sharing economy as well as the establishment of stable neighborhoods.

Practical implications:  Understanding joint building ventures and their impact on sustainability objectives might help municipalities to achieve their social, ecological and economic goals in urban development. Therefore, municipalities should promote joint building ventures in various ways to enforce sustainable real estate and take advantage of the beneficial effects.