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  Transition to a net-zero carbon built environment

This BRANZ programme explores what changes must occur for the construction industry to make a transition to a net-zero carbon world. It also focuses on how change occurs and ways to support those changes within the timeframe to meet the government's 2050 target. Among the different projects within the programme are these:

Carbon budget

This BRANZ-funded project is investigating how other countries are implementing measurement and mitigation of greenhouse gases in buildings. Working in collaboration with Massey University and Tonkin & Taylor, science-based design thresholds for New Zealand commercial and residential buildings are being developed.

The target aligns the vertical infrastructure (buildings) of the built environment to the Paris Agreement's purpose of limiting global average temperature to below 2°C above pre-industrial levels. The target reflects the allocation of emissions to the built environment – something the Ministry for the Environment's Greenhouse Gas Inventory does not currently report. This allocation factors in the existing building stock and projections for future population, construction and deconstruction activity.

How can New Zealand construction deliver low-impact buildings? 

This BRANZ-funded project builds on recently completed research to develop the New Zealand whole-building whole-of-life framework. This is a life cycle assessment approach to greenhouse gas impacts (and other environmental impact indicators such as resource depletion) associated with New Zealand buildings.

The project seeks to answer these questions:

  • What are the carbon footprints of typical new New Zealand office and residential buildings, and how do these compare to their carbon budgets?
  • How can design and materials choices be used to reduce the carbon footprints, and how much of a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions does this achieve?
  • What else might we need to consider – for example, new technologies – in order to further reduce the carbon footprint of our buildings below their carbon budgets?
Other pages in this web resource

Climate change

Climate change and the built environment

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the construction industry

BRANZ recommendations for climate action

BRANZ tools and resources for climate action