News digest: Big projects aim for Green Star, prefab homes the smarter way to build, solar power to boost global clean energy supplies.

29 October 2019

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

Two big construction projects in New Zealand aim for our Green Star certification, the Zero Carbon Bill moves a step closer to becoming law, global renewable electricity supplies are tipped to grow 50% by 2025, the largest 3D printed building in the world has opened in Dubai, and momentum increases for building prefabricated homes in NZ. These stories and more in our regular round up of green building and climate change news from here and around the world.

Green building

A new hospital building planned for Taranaki is aiming for a 5 Green Star Certification, NZ Doctor reports. The head of the Taranaki DHB says hospital buildings are the single greatest government building energy consumer in New Zealand so the project represents an opportunity to reduce the DHB’s carbon, water and energy footprint. The 5-star rating will also help improve the wellbeing of the building's users, reduce how long patient stay and improve staff productivity. 

The University of Otago says it is also looking to achieve a 5 Green Star rating with its new $90 million seven-storey residential college, reports the Otago Daily Times.

A neighbourhood of 25 net zero houses is being built in the UK, reports Electrek. Each home is being built to Passivhaus energy standards and will be powered entirely by solar and energy storage batteries. A 500-home settlement under development on the outskirts of Dubai also aims to be net zero and is producing all the energy it needs from renewable sources on site. Dubbed the 'Sustainable City', it is a living laboratory for testing future technologies and solutions that could help cities go green, reports Reuters.

The UK Green Building Council has welcomed proposals by its government for improving the energy performance of commercial buildings in the UK.

Climate change

Parliament's Environment Committee has released a report on the Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill and has recommended it be passed with amendments, reports the NZ Law Society. The Spinoff compares those submissions to the Environment Committee's report to see how they match up.

A government report confirms New Zealand's sea levels are rising faster than before and the sea temperature has risen, RNZ reports. The government report also found pollution and fishing are devastating our marine ecosystems.

The cost of replacing buildings that are under threat from rising seas along NZ’s coastlines could exceed $19 billion, reports Stuff.

A $1 billion upgrade of Wellington Airport has been criticised by climate experts who say the city needs to look seriously at reducing flying rather than increasing flights or arrivals to Wellington, Stuff reports.

More than 500 global cities say they are experiencing the effects of climate change, but few have prepared adequate action plans to mitigate the problem, reports Forbes. Meanwhile, Greenbiz looks at the four top-ranked cities for clean energy in the US to see what they are doing in the fight against climate change.

Aid agency Concern Worldwide says climate change is driving serious hunger levels in 43 out of 117 countries it surveyed, reports Reuters.

According to a new US Army report, Americans could face a horrifically grim future from climate change involving blackouts, disease, thirst, starvation and war. The study found that the US military itself might also collapse. This could all happen over the next two decades, reports Vice.


Global green bond and loan issuance has surpassed $200 billion so far this year, putting the market on track to reach $230 billion to $250 billion by the end of the year, reports Reuters.

The NZ Government's $100 million green investment fund is yet to invest a cent, 17 months after its budget was allocated, reports Stuff. Climate Change Minister James Shaw says the programme is completely on track, citing serious legal hoops that must be jumped through to invest public money.


Global supplies of renewable electricity are growing faster than expected and could expand by 50% in the next five years because of a resurgence in solar energy, reports the Guardian.

Google has committed to investing $150 million to help its key manufacturers source renewable power, and to help the regions in which they operate decarbonise their electricity grids, Edie reports. The tech giant predicts that its initial investment will catalyse around $1.5 billion of investment in renewables globally.

Morocco plans to create 150,000 jobs in the next decade out of energy efficiency projects, reports the North Africa Post. The strategy provides for including energy efficiency measures in construction, industry, transport, public lighting, agriculture and fisheries.

In New Zealand the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) is looking at whether it would be feasible to replace all household lighting with LEDs. Its minister wants more communities to develop their own renewable energy projects, reports NZ Energy and Environment Business Week.


The largest 3D-printed building in the world has opened in Dubai. The two-storey building has been constructed with 50% less manpower and 60% less construction waste, Gulf News reports.

An Engineering New Zealand investigation prompted by poor building designs has found system-wide problems and that basic mistakes are slipping through, reports RNZ.

The biggest hotel construction period in NZ history is in full swing with about $2 billion worth of construction being completed and getting started in the last year, reports Stuff.


Fletcher Building has opened a giant new high-tech prefabricated house-building factory in South Auckland, reports the NZ Herald. It will produce the core structural components which can be trucked to a building site and assembled in six to ten weeks. The prefabrication process produces less than a rubbish bag per home made on site, reports Stuff.

Architecture Now looks at the latest developments in building prefabricated homes in NZ. While it is still early days for assembled architecture in this country, some early adopters are showing it can be done in order to build smarter.

Across NZ more than 44,000 private dwellings are always damp and over 64,000 homes have mould, reports Stuff. It has produced an interactive map of the stats.