If sustainable development goals are to be achieved, it is necessary to consider refurbishment of architectural heritage buildings as well! As just 1% of buildings in the European Union have been built since 2006, it is essential to turn towards refurbishment of existing buildings if goals of sustainable development are to be achieved. Therefore, this article explores the ways in which sustainable development in construction is encouraged and achieved, especially concentrating on architectural heritage buildings. The idea of sustainable development revolves solely around carbon emissions, and therefore, historic buildings in Europe face the key issue of sustainability. Recently, there has been an increasing interest in reusing existing buildings through refurbishment and adaptive reuse where possible, as building reuse should offer environmental savings over demolition and new construction. In addition, despite popular belief, older buildings are capable of adapting to the new energy efficiency norms. This study explores the possibilities of encouraging complete refurbishment (including both sustainable renovation and strengthening) of historical buildings by exploring incentives used in Europe, the USA, Canada and New Zealand. Based on the literature review and best practices, the article concludes with recommendations on how to increase the positive investment flow of private capital into architectural heritage buildings, thus ensuring both preservation of heritage and achievement of sustainable development goals. The findings help both the user of the initiative on gaining insight into the intervention process that can be expected, as well as the local and regional governments interested in boosting adaptive reuse and refurbishment of existing buildings in order to achieve sustainable development goals.