Green Star NZ - Embodied Carbon

The built environment, including infrastructure, contributes 20% of New Zealand’s emissions.  

Reducing embodied carbon is one of the greatest challenges faced by our industry. At around 9% of New Zealand's carbon emissions, it's also the second largest source of emissions in the built environment. 

Embodied carbon covers emissions generated during a building’s entire lifecycle – from raw materials extraction right through to demolition and disposal. The term refers to the emissions ‘embodied’ in both the building materials and the processes required to create and demolish buildings  

To achieve New Zealand’s net zero emissions target by 2050, we must tackle the challenge of measuring and managing embodied emissions in buildings. 

Sign up for our next Embodied Carbon Masterclass

The response  

In New Zealand (like many countries), there is no consistent method of measuring embodied emissions. Through a detailed consultation, we've identified a need to develop an industry-wide approach to support the definition, scope and calculation of embodied carbon. The benefit should be the closest possible comparison of designs across buildings and projects no matter what calculator is used. 

Benefits to New Zealand’s building and construction sector 

Our goal is to develop an approach to measurement that allows for consistent, comparable and reliable benchmarking 

So no matter who is managing the calculation of embodied carbon, the result is consistent and comparable across buildings. 

The approach 

Following months of consultation resulting in detailed feedback from our members and the wider sector, we have worked with our friends at thinkstep-anz to take the approach and develop a calculator to help you measure, verify and compare embodied emissions in new buildings and major refurbishments. 

New tools to help you tackle embodied carbon and measure and reduce emissions:  

✅ A consistent measurement method for embodied carbon calculations 

✅ A free embodied carbon calculator which follows the consistent methodology and the requirements of Green Star v1.1 

✅ A guide to the calculator 

In November 2022 we also 

✅Created benchmarks on reductions in embodied carbon for NZ buildings to meet and incorporated those into Green Star 

The Calculator, Guide, and Methodology are intended to align with MBIE's Building for Climate Change (BfCC) programme (MBIE, 2022), even though BfCC is not yet final at the time of publication. 

Application to Green Star Design & As Built NZ v1.1 

Green Star Design & As Built NZ v1.1 awards points based on a reduction in upfront carbon. A minimum reduction in upfront carbon of 10% is required to achieve a Green Star rating.  

Technical resources now available

A summary of all the changes made following the first consultation can be viewed here: Embodied Carbon Consultation Updates