Zero carbon buildings

Buildings keep us and our loved ones warm and dry. They provide shelter and sanctuary. They are places where we create lifelong memories and where we create world-leading businesses. We teach our tamariki in buildings and we care for our whanau in buildings.

But our buildings are responsible for significant climate-changing pollution. Emissions from the construction sector have leaped 66% in a decade. The built environment is responsible for approximately 20% of our country's carbon footprint. Constructing and renovating New Zealand buildings pumps out climate-changing pollution equivalent to the emissions from one million cars on the road every year.

Climate change is our greatest challenge. But New Zealand will not achieve the healthier zero carbon future we deserve unless, together, we curtail emissions from the building and construction sector.

That's why we launched the Net Zero Carbon Roadmap for Aotearoa. This roadmap sets out the steps that New Zealand needs to take to get all our buildings zero carbon by 2050 and all new buildings zero carbon by 2030. It's ambitious, and it's essential.

The roadmap also launches a set of tools to allow New Zealanders to benchmark their buildings and certify to a net zero carbon standard.

The Zero Carbon Road Map for Aotearoa's Buildings was proudly supported by ArgosyBayleysPrecinctWarren and Mahoney, Resene and Beca 

carbon zero for building operations



We want to ensure that everyone can demonstrate their commitment to a zero carbon future, regardless of how far along the journey they are or how sustainable their building is now.

An easy first step is simply to transparently report the results of your building's energy bills over a 12-month period. We intend to provide a web portal for emissions reporting in 2020. This site will provide benchmark energy and carbon data for different building types, allowing you to see how your building compares with its peers. While we're in the process of developing our web platform, please contact us for more details.

carbon zero building certification

For those building owners already far along the journey we have developed a pilot net zero carbon certification for existing buildings. This carbon zero Building Operations certification, developed in partnership with Toitū Envirocare, will enable you to measure your current carbon emissions more formally, manage your carbon footprint, offset any unavoidable emissions and market your success once you receive your carbon zero building certificate. The submission guidelines can be found here.


To receive full carbon zero building certification, buildings will have to meet minimum carbon performance standards through either NABERSNZ or the greenhouse gas emission credits in Green Star Performance.

Before formally registering for a rating, you may want to use some of the tools available for benchmarking your building against the verification certification. See NABERSNZ for office buildings or Green Star Performance for all other building types. Next, you’ll need to develop a carbon-reduction action plan to reduce emissions and meet the minimum required for certification:

Minimum Building Performance Requirements

NZGBC expects buildings to meet a minimum level of carbon performance before the application of carbon offsets. This minimum performance standard, expected to get tougher over time, is currently as follows:

  • 4 Star NABERSNZ rating or higher for all office buildings OR
  • 8 out of 20 points (base building) or 9 out of 23 points (whole building) in the ‘Greenhouse Gas Emissions’ Credit of Green Star Performance. Note, that it is not necessary to submit for a full Green Star Performance rating; we will allow registration for just the credits involved in a carbon zero submission, and NZGBC is offering a competitive price for doing this.
  • AND

Demonstrate that you have a carbon reduction plan for the building. This must include a plan to phase out fossil fuel consumption on site by 2025.


Once you’re confident that you’ve met the minimum requirements, you’ll need to register for carbon zero certification and submit data about your emissions and any supplementary material required by the programme. At this stage we’ll need to see reporting of the purchase of refrigerants and some Scope 3 emissions; these are emissions associated with products and services bought in connection with the operation of the building, such as waste disposal.

The final step before certification is to mitigate any unavoidable emissions through one of Toitū Envirocare's offset programmes or any programme that meets the minimum offset requirements of the carbon zero buildings programme. Once you’ve offset remaining emissions, you’ll receive your carbon zero building certification!

The hard part is over. Phew!

Now that you’ve received your carbon zero building certification, it’s time to think about how you tell your story of success to the world. To maintain your certification, you’ll need to resubmit your greenhouse gas data each year. You’ll also need to ensure that you continue to meet the minimum benchmarks as they increase over time.

The Zero Carbon Road Map for Aotearoa's Buildings and the building certifications are proudly supported by Argosy, Bayleys, Precinct, Warren and Mahoney, Resene and Beca.


carbon zero building certification was developed in partnership with Toitū Envirocare,