Massive zero carbon building news, and a jobs machine

03 July 2020

Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

Together, we’ve made some great progress on zero carbon homes and buildings in the last couple of years. And this progress has culminated in Friday’s significant Government announcement on buildings and climate change.

Two years ago, we put the issue on the national agenda with the launch of this report written for us by our mates at thinkstep, revealing for the first time that the built environment belches out approximately 20 per cent of New Zealand’s climate change pollution.

More recently, our efforts to tackle climate pollution from the building and construction sector included the launch of our zero carbon road map for Aotearoa’s buildings. We unveiled this comprehensive raft of solutions in Parliament during World Green Building Week last year, and the Government immediately took notice and warmly welcomed the report.

Friday’s Government announcement admits that reducing the emissions from our sector ‘is key to delivering the climate change results that New Zealand needs’, and to ‘meet New Zealand’s climate chnage goals we will be setting bold targets’. These targets will ‘focus on delivering ambitious improvements to operational efficiency as well as significantly reducing material and construction emissions.’

The Government will be developing a road map for the Building Code, showing how the Code will improve. (Great idea, eh! Wonder where they got that from?)

Our sector has a massive role to play in tackling climate change. This is exactly the vision and promise we need to see from the Government. It’s a great first step. Besides tackling climate pollution, it will deliver a host of other benefits too. Lower bills for familes and businesses. Warmer, drier homes. Healthier workplaces, and healthier New Zealanders.

The ambition outlined is great, but Government has to move faster. And it’s going to be really important that we build zero carbon homes and buildings, but we also retrofit our existing homes and buildings too. Without doing that, New Zealanders will miss out on all the health, economic and other benefits.

The Government is consulting on this, and has promised to encourage feedback and listen. We will absolutely be engaging with Government throughout, and ensuring that their ambition remains. As we said at the launch of our zero carbon road map, a zero carbon building and construction sector will be the greatest achievement ever for our industry.

But to get there, we all, together, have to tell the Government to be as ambitious as possible. I strongly encourage all of you to contact the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

The best time for Government to have announced this plan was 10 years ago. But the second best time is now. So let’s get on with it.

If the Government, or anyone else, needed more evidence of the huge benefits of green buildings, then global heavyweights the International Energy Agency alongside the International Monetary Fund provided it recently.

Their new report examining the best way for Governments to invest for an economic recovery, clearly and conclusively showed that making all our homes and buildings warm and energy efficient has the greatest potential for job creation. Building new buildings and homes to be energy efficient, and retrofitting existing homes and buildings would create more jobs for every million dollars invested than in any other sector.

Dr Fatih Birol, the head of the IEA said: “Energy efficiency is a jobs machine.”

And the benefits don’t stop there. Energy efficient buildings and homes mean lower bills for businesses and for families. This would free up more money to be spent on goods and services, providing a further boost to the New Zealand economy. And warmer homes mean healthier Kiwis.

As always, do please get in touch with any feedback or suggestions. And don’t forget to help us make Homestar even better. Our Homestar consultation is open until 17 July.

Noho ora mai rā

Andrew