Can the Greens and Labour keep a key green building promise?

31 March 2021

Photo by Sulthan Auliya on Unsplash

Our elected politicians make promises during election campaigns to try and persuade you and me to vote for them. It’s hugely important that they then deliver on these promises.

But the team here at the Green Building Council, alongside over 50 other leading organisations in Aotearoa, are growing increasingly concerned that we are seeing little progress on a key pledge made during the last election trail by both Labour and the Green Party.

Standing in a 5 Green Star rated building during the 2020 election campaign, Greens’ co-leader James Shaw promised that a “zero carbon Aotearoa is only possible if we go further and faster than we have been able to this term, and take urgent action to cut emissions from all buildings.” The Greens’ plan for sustainable buildings included a commitment to “ensure new government buildings are built to high environmental standards”. “The Green Star system is the best system we have got,” he said.

Buildings are responsible for 20% of our climate change pollution, and the climate emergency-declaring government is the largest builder in New Zealand. Delivering on the promised commitment that government will only build to “high environmental standards”, such as Green Star, will send a clear signal to all in the building and construction sector that our industry is going to play an important part in achieving a zero carbon Aotearoa.

It’s high time for James Shaw to do all he can to deliver on this important promise he made to all New Zealanders. Doing so would be an important step towards a cleaner, greener Aotearoa. It will deliver better places for New Zealanders working in and using schools, hospitals, mental health facilities, offices, and other buildings.

And it should be a pretty easy job for him to push this through, seeing as Labour made a similar election pledge, with a commitment requiring “Government-funded construction projects to meet Green Star 5 or 6 or equivalent”.

New Zealanders voted for Labour and the Greens on the back of promises like this. And now the politicians have to deliver.

That’s why we recently joined together a group of almost 60 organisations who wrote to James Shaw, saying “we hope to see in the very near future a public commitment that all new government buildings are built to be healthy, green, low carbon places”, given “the agreement between the Greens and Labour on this issue, the election promises by both parties, and the urgency of the issue.”

We know that our sector is playing a key role in boosting the economy, but we also want our sector to play a similar role in a greener, healthier, zero carbon Aotearoa. A clear government commitment to only build green would be a significant boost to this ambition.

You can help the push to get government to build green in a really simple way. Just share our social posts, tagging in James Shaw, and asking him to deliver on his election promise.

As always, if you have any suggestions or questions about our work do please contact the team here. Or you can catch up with us in person at the upcoming Green Property Summit. Hundreds of tickets have already been sold for this event, so be quick! And do have a read of how we’re striving to make the Green Property Summit the greenest event of its kind.

Ngā mihi nui

Andrew