Green banking, building and our board ballot

06 November 2019

Photo by Singkham from Pexels

What a month! There seems to have been a flurry of activity in our space – we're dealing with a mountain of new Green Star and Homestar registrations, including some really big and exciting projects (not that every new project isn’t exciting). There has also been an influx of green finance announcements which point to a wave of future sustainable opportunities.

Globally green bonds and loans have surpassed NZ$300 billion so far this year. It's clear there’s growing appetite for people to put their money where their mouth is and back sustainable development. Last month I attended the Auckland launch of New Zealand Green Investment Finance which is an exciting development in the New Zealand market and should see more funding put into things like commercial building retrofit programmes and reducing our emissions.

It was also great to see our member, Argosy, release its second round of Green Bonds which I understand have been very popular. Again, great news for the environment and it will no doubt contribute to healthier, better buildings.

While finance has increased its green hue there is still work to do to get the sector fully involved. Banks in particular have missed a trick with most yet to seize some low hanging fruit in green mortgages and loans for better building. Apart from ANZ’s Healthy Home Loans there has been slow progress from New Zealand’s banks. A lot have made broad commitments to do their bit but they need to start showing some action. Investors and the New Zealand public want a sustainable future, green certification tools are available for any home or building whether new or existing, now banks need to play their part by directing finance to lower carbon assets.

Interestingly on the politics front, while attention has been primarily on the Zero Carbon Bill (which we’ve joined more than a hundred others in backing) the Government has signalled companies are likely to be required to assess and report their climate-related financial risks. Also a Chapman Tripp legal opinion highlighted the need for company directors to consider and respond to climate change risk, as they would any other financial risk. For many their biggest footprint is their buildings and office spaces and I think there will have to be some serious consideration of how that can be improved. Tools like NABERSNZ and Green Star provide a clear snapshot for companies and help validate people’s efforts.

In more great news from the public sector, Taranaki District Health Board is aiming for 5 Green Star with their new building at Taranaki Base Hospital. Importantly it’s the first step in transforming the public health sector and bringing lower running costs, a smaller footprint, and better buildings for New Zealanders to heal in. Ministry of Health 2019 have set out that “all new builds, fit outs and renovations should use a certified sustainability rating system such as Green Star, which designs in efficiencies and healthy buildings”. The NZGBC calls on other Government departments to build all projects above $10 million to Green Star to help ensure a healthier, lower carbon, sustainable future.

Looking ahead there are two actions for you. The contact person for the NZGBC at your organization will receive this week a list of the people putting themselves forward for the NZGBC Board Director position. Please consider who you would like as a Director and email your voting form to the NZGBC by 22nd November.

We’ve got our Annual General Meeting coming up at the end of the month (28th November). It is a great chance to take stock and help guide the direction of NZGBC. If you’re in Auckland, I’ll see you there.

To all those rating their own buildings, asking landlords for ratings, improving the health of homes, keep up the great work. We are getting there.

Noho ora mai,

Andrew Eagles