News digest: big commitments to net zero carbon buildings, energy efficiency vital to climate action

12 June 2019

Leading cities and organisations around the world are committing to net zero carbon buildings, job growth in the US energy efficiency sector this year could more than double 2018's increase, Finland pledges to be carbon neutral by 2035 and researchers have developed a wood product they claim is stronger than steel. These stories and more in our regular round up of green building and climate change news.

Energy efficiency

Spending on energy efficiency must be boosted into the billions if we are to tackle climate change and meet the net zero target by 2050, reports the UK's Utility Week.

In 2018, the energy efficiency sector in the US continued to produce the most new jobs of any energy sector - over 76,000 - with 2,324,866 jobs in total, reports Energy Futures Initiative. That 3.4% growth is expected to more than double this year to 7.8%.

Vox looks at how California's equipment and building standards have helped make it a world leader in energy efficiency.

Stuff provides a guide to everything you need to know about insulating your home and looks at honeycomb blinds which Consumer NZ says are the best for keeping your home warm. Stuff also reports on the most cost efficient home heating solutions.

Zero carbon

The new Finnish government has pledged to make the country carbon neutral by 2035, one of the fastest targets set around the world, reports the Independent.

In one of Theresa May’s last moves as Prime Minister of the UK, she is seeking to enshrine in law a commitment to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050, making Britain the first major economy to do so, reports the Guardian.

Innovation

US-based researchers have developed a "cooling wood" that reflects sunlight and radiates heat from a building, lowering a home's electricity consumption. They claim the material is stronger than steel, reports Tech Times.

GBC news

We responded to the Government's Wellbeing Budget saying it had wasted an opportunity to fix hundreds of thousands of owner occupied homes that will remain cold and damp. Until all New Zealand children are living in healthy, warm homes, the country’s economy cannot be called a success.

Last September the World Green Building Council launched the Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment. Since then more than 50 signatories, including 23 cities, have pledged have pledged to take urgent action to ensure their own portfolios of buildings operate at net zero carbon by 2030. So far nearly 390 buildings around the world have been certified as net zero carbon.

The Canada Green Building Council says retrofitting older buildings as well as constructing new energy efficient buildings will help reduce the country's greenhouse gas emissions, reports CBC.

The US Green Building Council is working with a multinational clean energy company to foster the development of thin-film solar power products for powering buildings, reports renews.biz.

The Sydney Opera House has been awarded a 5 Green Star Performance rating from the Green Building Council of Australia, making it one of the first World Heritage-listed buildings globally to achieve the certification, reports Architecture and Design.

Green buildings

The National University of Singapore has been named the top contributing institution in the world for research on green building projects, reports Newswise.

A report from Northern Europe says that while sustainable buildings are becoming more mainstream, the construction industry still doesn’t appreciate their full value, reports Environment Journal.

The first 6-star NABERS-rated office building in Adelaide, Australia, has opened as tenants in the city’s A-grade office market become increasingly aware of the benefits of improved environmental efficiency, reports Commercial Real Estate.

CNN takes a look at some of the more interesting green roof projects around the world, from a rooftop farm in South Africa to Milan's "Vertical Forest".

The global glass recycling market, stimulated by the demand for green buildings, will grow by more than US$916 million over the next four years, reports AP.

Air quality

The air quality in New Zealand has improved over the past 10 years, but there is still more that communities and households can do to protect vulnerable populations from the health impacts of this ‘silent killer’, says Land, Water Aotearoa (LAWA). Burning wood and coal for home heating in winter is the leading cause of poor air quality in many places.

This is the last winter that households in the Rotorua region can use non-compliant wood and coal burners, reports the NZ Herald.

Climate change

A harrowing new climate change report warns we may be on the way to extinction, claiming there is a “high likelihood” human civilisation will come to an end by 2050 unless action is taken on greenhouse gas emissions, reports the New York Post.

Already, climate change is affecting the production of the world's top 10 crops, reports phys.org.

Many of the world’s biggest companies, from Silicon Valley tech firms to large European banks, are bracing for the prospect that climate change could substantially affect their bottom lines within the next five years, reports the New York Times.

The climate crisis is already causing widespread damage to human health. However, a new report says the economic benefits of action to address the current and prospective health effects of climate change are likely to be substantial, reports the Guardian.

Europe is readying a new fleet of satellites that will monitor CO2 emissions at every point on earth, creating the first worldwide system to independently track polluters, reports Climate Change News.

Auckland has become the latest New Zealand council to declare a climate emergency, reports RNZ.

Adapting to climate change is going to affect the way every New Zealander lives their lives, but it's often difficult to imagine exactly what these changes will look like. Newshub Nation explores what will be different about how we get our energy, how we get around, how we shop, how we travel and what we eat.

Investment

Do you know the difference between green bonds and green loans? The National Law Review in the US explains what they mean and provides definitions for a number of other green finance terms to help you out.

Green bonds with a focus on renewables present investors with a unique opportunity to contribute to, and benefit from, investment into vital energy infrastructure, reports Business Day.

While it’s clear that there is a growing appetite among investors for green bonds, a rigorous new study finds that people aren’t willing to pay a premium just for the satisfaction of doing so, reports Stanford Business.

One of India’s leading renewable energy developers has received a tremendous response to its green bond issue. The development is crucial as the Indian renewable energy market is facing financial strain, reports Clean Technica.

Insurance

Risk modellers are helping insurers understand the risks from climate change on their portfolios, reports Insurance Business.