H1 delayed: New Zealand’s false start in race to zero-carbon building

15 July 2022

With New Zealand's building industry racing to zero carbon, our country has failed to even complete the warmup.

Following industry consultation the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has today confirmed it will extend the time to comply with new wall, floor, and roof insulation requirements for housing by a further six months. The full delay is slightly watered down, with window and door insulation requirements still coming into force from November, albeit on a staggered timeline. 



“This fiasco has highlighted the challenge we have ahead of us,” New Zealand Green Building Council chief executive Andrew Eagles says.

“If we’re struggling to get the industry to warm up to the basic insulation standards, there has to be a better awareness and education campaign as we ramp up the Building for Climate Change Programme in the next few years."

The first, basic step of increasing our poor insulation standards was met with enthusiasm when it was announced in November last year. And so it should - our current standards are well below other OECD countries with similar climates, and increasing insulation will help ensure warmer, more efficient homes.

It was highlighted as a key step in addressing our building emissions in the Government’s Emission Reduction Plan and signaled the start of the critical Building for Climate Change Programme which looks to transform our sector into a greener, more sustainable one.

"This delay ensures the record number of homes being consented will be built to dated standards, locking in hundreds of thousands of tonnes of pollution for decades to come.”

“Absolutely there are a raft of pressures on our industry but taking this step to progress our minimum standards is essential to the health of our people and our planet. We simply cannot afford to hold up the most important transformation our sector will ever go through."

Our sector accounts for around 20% of New Zealand’s emissions, with new homes emitting five times too much carbon to comply with our climate targets.

“The larger step for the construction sector will be whole house modelling and calculating embodied carbon emissions which is expected in 2024 or 2025. MBIE has to ensure these commitments will be kept and there will be no further delays."

Uptake of existing higher certified standards such as Homestar v5, Green Star or Passive House now will be key to prepare the sector over the next six months.

“This will enable builders and designers to upskill and start delivering better homes before it becomes a regulatory requirement.

“These unfortunate amendments to timeframes are very unsettling. It is disruptive for the supply chain and unnerving for our sector. We are in a climate emergency. Let’s act like it.”

NZGBC has created an H1 calculator to help residential projects submit for H1 using the calculation method.