This research addresses local governance for building energy efficiency. In order to turn an increasingly proactive environmental policy agenda at subnational levels into practice, local governments experiment with new forms of governance. One important policy area in this regard is building energy use, often addressed through urban development projects. Such initiatives provide important insight into the role that local governments may play in terms of pushing developers from mainstream building practices towards the uptake of more radical energy efficient solutions by enabling socio-technical translation. The analysis is based on two case studies from Sweden and Denmark, where the local governments have actively sought to challenge mainstream building practices through a combination of different modes of governing. It is shown how this combination of different modes of governing at the local level provides several translation entries for local governments seeking to foster sustainability transitions. The article concludes that more attention should be directed towards translation as part of the practical environmental governing at the local level.