News digest: New Zealand aims for net zero carbon by 2050, green buildings attract top talent, and save more than money

14 May 2019

Welcome to our second round up of national and global news relating to the green building industry. And thanks for all your feedback to our first digest published two weeks ago. We’d like to fine tune the format and content so it works for you, so do please tell us what you think.

Green buildings

A sweeping plan to make Los Angeles more sustainable has been unveiled. It includes calls for all new buildings constructed in the city to be “net-zero carbon” by 2030, with the city’s entire building stock converted to zero-emission technologies by 2050, reports the LA Times.

City Lab looks at how emissions from New York’s large buildings can be cut by 40% by 2030.

The Singapore Government is encouraging developers and architects to include greenery in their designs. The city now has about 100 hectares of vertical and rooftop gardens, reports Greenroofs (includes video).

America's first fully solar powered hotel may mark the beginning of a trend in hospitality in an era that has hotel developers asking about the impact climate change will have on their businesses and fielding concerns from a more planet-conscious traveling population, reports Multi Briefs.

Smart, green buildings attract, engage and retain top talent, reports HR Drive.

Incorporating elements of nature into the workplace can reduce stress, blood pressure levels and heart rates, while increasing productivity and creativity, reports Open Access Government.

And, a study of US realtors shows that sustainability and energy efficiency are becoming important issues for people looking to buy a home, reports Real Estate Weekly.

The health of our environment should be the baseline for any urban design or architecture work within a city, reports Our Auckland.

Stuff profiles a German-style Passivhaus in Christchurch that is much more air-tight than most New Zealand homes.


The majority of the world’s central banks have signalled their intent to ensure climate risk is properly accounted for in the financial sector, reports FN Arena.

Global green bond issuance reached $47.2 billion in the first quarter of this year, a new first-quarter record and 40 percent higher than the same period last year, reports Reuters.

And, the total issuance of green bonds in the Asia-Pacific region rose from an estimated $43 billion in 2017 to around $50 billion in 2018, reports China Daily.

GBC news

The World Green Building Council has launched a campaign about air quality in the built environment. The global project aims to reduce the impacts of air pollution on human health and our natural environment.

The UK Green Building Council has launched a framework for the UK construction and property industry to transition to net zero carbon by 2050, reports Business Green.

Singapore is trialling rooftop gardens on buses. The aim of the project is to confirm that the green roofs will lead to a drop in temperature within the interior of the buses, and a reduction in the fuel consumption used for air-conditioning, reports the Singapore Green Building Council.

Stuff looks at what the ‘eco’ label means for building homes, and notes that we’ve seen thousands of people use HomeFit in recent months.

Energy efficiency

Energy efficiency is critical to slowing global warming, reports Yate Climate Connections.

Canada’s energy efficiency sector is poised to create 36,000 jobs in 2019, reports AP.

A group representing landlords says home insulation materials are running out in some parts of New Zealand as landlords rush to insulate their rentals to meet a deadline set in law, reports RNZ.

Zero carbon

New Zealand’s Zero Carbon Amendment Bill was announced last week. It lays out the route to net zero emissions by 2050. The Spinoff provides an outline of what it means.

Citizens of all ages must push politicians to make the bill robust, fit for purpose and enforceable, writes commentator Rod Oram in The Spinoff.

Britain's electricity system could be run with zero carbon as soon as 2025 and has just gone a week without using coal to generate electricity for the first time since 1882, reports the Guardian.


A new $27 million clean energy centre will be built in Taranaki by the Government, and another $20 million will fund research into cutting edge technology so New Zealand can look into organic photovoltaics, super conductors, nanotechnologies and inductive power, reports Stuff.

Foreground looks into a large scale residential project in Melbourne that is pioneering a new model of sustainable urban development.

Researchers have proposed an innovative method that enables air conditioning and ventilation systems to produce synthetic fuels from carbon dioxide and water from the ambient air, reports Nature Communications.

Interesting Engineering explores eight innovations to make cities more sustainable (includes video).

Air quality

Poor air quality during winter, caused by inefficient heating systems, is contributing to health issues in Otago, reports the Otago Daily Times.

The Wairarapa Times-Age reports that the air quality in Masterton fails to meet New Zealand standards and World Health Organisation guidelines as 68 per cent of the town's homes burn wood for heating.

Home burners have also been identified as the key cause of air quality issues in Southland during winter, reports Voxy.

And, Environment Canterbury is warning continued breaches of air quality in Timaru could halt consents for further development, reports Stuff.


Stuff profiles sustainable waste removal company Junk Run which is working to reduce the waste coming from demolitions, commercial construction and shop re-fits.

Building Code

An overhaul of Australia's construction codes must prepare the built environment for climate change, reports The Conversation.

The number of tiny house builders flouting building codes is rising in Marlborough, reports Stuff.

Climate change

The UK has become the first country to declare a “climate emergency” and the government’s official climate change advisers are to recommend setting a target of getting to “net-zero” greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, reports Quartz.

Long time climate change commentator and activist Bill McKibben, writing for The New Yorker, says we’re now in a remarkable moment, when, after years of languishing, climate concern is suddenly and explosively rising to the top of the political agenda.

Meanwhile the UN chief, in Aotearoa at the start of short tour of the Pacific, warnsthe world is “not on track” to limit global temperature rises to an acceptable level, reports TVNZ. At the same time António Guterres praised New Zealand's "crucial" leadership on climate change.

Insurance experts rank climate change as the top risk for 2019, reports Grist.

A new study has found that thawing permafrost in the northern hemisphere could double the planet's carbon emissions, reports The Week.

And, a Nasa study reveals greenhouse gases and atmospheric particles were affecting global drought risk as far back as the early 20th century, reports Science Daily.

A UN report declares that one million species are at risk of extinction within decades due to human activity, reports the Guardian. This is separate from the impact of climate change, though climate change does worsen the situation by causing further damage to the ecosystem.

New data shows hundreds of coastal properties in the Bay of Plenty may be at risk of erosion from sea-level rise in the next century, reports the NZ Herald.