CEO update: Seven steps we need to take by 2030

30 November 2022

Photo by Aaron Birch on Unsplash

While there’s only a few frantic weeks left before our office closes, our recent AGM has me in reflection mode already. It’s been a massive year for us as an organisation, for New Zealand generally, and importantly, for our efforts to address climate change.

Thank you to everyone who has engaged with us, advocated for better building, walked the talk, and helped transform the industry this year. Our community of members is now over 700 strong, and our efforts are having an impact.

Now that we’re almost finished the year, it means we have just seven years to act before 2030 – a line in the sand for many climate commitments and sustainability goals.

The clock is ticking, seven years is not a long time.

In no particular order, here are seven key steps I believe we as a community must make if we’re to be successful by 2030:

  1. Prioritise: Our sector faces numerous challenges. Rising costs, supply and labour constraints, health and safety considerations, and a bucket load of work. Among those challenges we must prioritise better, lower carbon buildings. How? Lets rewarding leadership. Incentives like lower development contributions or a clean home feebate or subsidy as some councils are already doing, drives developers and builders to build above the building code. This helps those designers, engineers and the supply chain build to a higher standard and prepare for the coming building for climate change programme. This means less resistance when the building code is improved. Lower carbon healthier homes and buildings are mainstreamed faster.
  2. Evolve: We cannot continue to operate as normal. Products and supplies will need to change, things like EPDs, LCA and measurement will become the norm, and building performance will become a key consideration in how we design and build. It will take time, but our sector is aware we cannot continue to do as we’ve always done. It will take innovation, flexibility from regulators, and ambition.
  3. Measure: We’re yet to see mandatory energy labels on buildings and homes. It’s a major first step - what isn’t measured, isn’t managed. Embedding measurement and transparent reporting of current energy use and carbon emissions will highlight what needs to be improved and what impact any sustainability efforts are having.
  4. Continuously improve: While the necessary changes are understood now, getting supply chains, professionals, and the wider sector into a position to deliver will take time. That’s why we support the staggered updates to the Building Code under the Building for Climate Change, and why our tools are constantly updated and cater to various levels of ambition and performance. We must outline a clear pathway towards zero carbon and stick to it so our entire sector knows the change coming, and how/when they must adapt.
  5. Collaborate: Creating zero carbon buildings is a challenge, as is addressing the numerous consequences of climate change. We must work together and share ideas, successes and failures, if we’re to be successful.
  6. Educate: We need to instil carbon reduction and climate impact into our tertiary study, our apprenticeships, and workplaces. Working in the building and construction is working in sustainability. Everyone needs to understand the impact our buildings have, and how we can reduce it
  7. Retrofit: Our aging, existing buildings don’t perform how we need them to. Over the next seven years we need to start an ambitious programme to retrofit and upgrade the 1.8 million existing homes, and thousands of buildings to be comfortable, dry, energy efficient places.

There are a lot more ideas that could be added, including more detailed asks in our Zero Carbon Road Map but hopefully that provides food for thought as we end the year and prepare to regroup over the summer break.

I wish you all safe and happy holiday if you have time off. For those working through, I hope you get time to join in any of the season’s festivities and to spend time with friends and whānau.

Ngā mihi nui,