News digest: European cities target net-zero carbon buildings by 2050, billions raised in green bonds

28 May 2019

Struggling to keep up with all the news related to green buildings and climate change? Don’t panic. Our regular round up of all the top stories from here and around the world is designed to keep you in the loop.

GBC news around the world

A coalition of eight European cities has pledged to completely decarbonise their existing building stocks by 2050, reports Euractiv. The commitment is called Build Upon2 and is being convened by the World Green Building Council.

A new survey by the US Green Building Council shows employees working in green certified buildings are happier, healthier and more productive, reports Connect.

And, the US Green Building Council has awarded Unilever North America with its highest level of certification for sustainable buildings in the US.

The Irish Green Building Council says Ireland must move to fossil free energy systems in new homes immediately, reports RTE.

Singapore's national certification scheme for building and construction professionals has been refreshed and handed over to the Singapore Green Building Council. These changes reflect the growing importance of green buildings for the city's climate strategy and economic development, reports Eco Business.

New Altas looks at plans to build the world's tallest hybrid timber tower in Canada. As a part of the Canada Green Building Council's Zero Carbon Buildings Pilot programme the Earth Tower project will be a zero emissions building.

Green buildings

Wellington's 5-Green Star rated PwC Centre has scooped the coveted top prize at the annual New Zealand Commercial Project Awards, reports Stuff.

Fast Company looks at two very different projects integrating nature and buildings. In Amsterdam, architects of an apartment block are embracing the wild when it comes to designing the building's green roof. Instead of a perfectly manicured garden the rooftop will look more like a beach with sand dunes and grasses.

And, in the middle of New York the facade of a proposed eight-story building will double as a vertical meadow for butterflies.

There are many opportunities to green both old and new buildings, especially with IoT technology becoming more mainstream, reports IoT for All.

Several stringent energy consumption regulations passed by governments worldwide have boosted the adoption of net-zero energy buildings. That market is anticipated to reach over US$96,008 million by 2026, says Industry Reports.


Reuters reports that the world’s first green bond issue by a AAA-rated nation raised orders valued at €21.2 billion euros in the Netherlands last week.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong raised $1 billion from the sale of its first green bond.

And the World Bank raised €1.5 billion for a new sustainable development bond, reports Business Chief.

Until recently cities have been at the fringe of climate finance, but shifting them to the center might mean huge benefits for climate action globally, reports Sustainability Times.

Green bonds have an obvious part to play in funding NZ's transition towards a low-carbon economy, reports the NZ Herald.

Delaying the implementation of climate policies could cost the world’s top companies US$1.2 trillion over the next 15 years, according to a report on how global warming could impact investor portfolios globally, reports Eco Business.

Energy efficiency

Global energy investment stabilised in 2018 while investment stalled for energy efficiency and renewables, according to the International Energy Agency’s latest annual review.

The New Zealand Government's new standards to make rental homes warmer and drier will be effective from 1 July. Private landlords will have just over two years to ensure rental properties meet the Healthy Homes standards, reports Stuff.

Air quality

The Ministry for the Environment is moving to tighten air quality regulations despite most councils across the country struggling to meet air pollution standards, reports Stuff.

Zero carbon

The National Party supported the the government's Zero Carbon bill through its first reading in the House last week. However, no commitments have been made to continue that support as the bill makes its way through Parliament, reports the NZ Herald.


In a challenge to traditional house-building methods, Australian-based retailer Bunnings has begun selling flat pack homes into New Zealand, reports the NZ Herald.

Mass timber construction is on the rise, with advocates saying it could revolutionise the building industry and be part of a climate change solution. But some are questioning whether the logging and manufacturing required to produce the new material outweigh any benefits, reports Yale Environment 360.

The NZ Transport Agency unveiled its preferred design for a walking and biking pathway across the Auckland Harbour Bridge. Bike Auckland reviews the latest concept.


Auckland Council estimates the city will produce 568,935 tonnes of construction and demolition waste for the year. That’s the equivalent of 196 Auckland Town Halls filled to the brim with waste and stacked on top of each other. It says it is working to adopt a deconstruction and soft strip approach as standard on its own projects.

Climate change

There is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today than any point since the evolution of humans, reports CNN.

Scientists believe that global sea levels could double to two metres by 2100, due to accelerating melting in Greenland and Antarctica, reports the BBC.

The world must double spending on renewable power and slash investment in oil and coal by 2030 to keep the Paris climate treaty temperature targets in play according to the International Energy Agency, reports

More than 40 global cities have been awarded the top grade for climate leadership and action, reports Smart Cities World.

Case studies for some of the top cities are here.

Regional councils for Canterbury and Nelson have declared a climate emergency. They join 529 councils in 10 countries, as well as the United Kingdom and Irish parliaments, in recognising that action on climate change needs to be prioritised at all levels of society and government, reports the NZ Herald.

The New Zealand Government could also vote to declare a state of climate emergency, reports Stuff.

Plastic is a major contributor to climate change warns a new report by the Center for International Environmental Law. By 2050 plastic will be responsible for up to 13% of the total carbon budget – equivalent to 615 coal-fired power plants, reports the Guardian.

Thousands of Kiwi school students went on strike last Friday calling for urgent action on climate change for the second time this year, reports Stuff.