Climate change has big implications for the building industry. It has been estimated that buildings are directly and indirectly responsible for up to 20% of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions.
As part of the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, New Zealand has made a number of commitments. These are the key ones:
- The Paris Agreement - a United Nations initiative that commits us to achieving a 30% reduction of our 2005 greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The agreement also aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions between 2050 and 2100.
- The Climate Change Response Act 2002 - a New Zealand law amended in 2019 with a commitment to reduce net emissions of greenhouse gases (except methane from plants and animals) to zero by 2050.
Buildings primarily contribute to climate change impacts through:
- the energy they use when the building is occupied
- the greenhouse gas emissions from the extraction, processing, transport and installation of building materials and their maintenance
- urban and landscape design and planning.
Aim and vision of the programme
The aim of the BRANZ Transition to a zero-carbon built environment programme is that, by 2050, the building and construction industry is delivering net-zero carbon buildings in an affordable way.
The programme vision is to provide research support for an industry-led transition to a zero-carbon built environment through:
- decarbonising across the whole building life cycle
- encouraging industry leadership and decision making to manage climate change mitigation.
Collaborative evidenced-based approach
Engagement with stakeholders has identified a number of key needs:
- Solid evidence - we need science to help drive policy and solutions.
- Evidence-backed pathways - to change behaviour and bring low-carbon solutions and materials into the mainstream.
- Leadership and vision - we need to influence key decision makers.
- A holistic approach - involving the building and construction industry as well as banking, finance and other sectors.
Why a collaborative programme approach is necessary:
- The timing is urgent.
- It will build wider support for leadership and action.
- It will build wider capability for industry to respond in an inclusive manner.
- There are many knowledge gaps to be addressed.
The programme moves from evidence to pathways to solutions:
- Evidence - use research to fill the gaps in our knowledge.
- Pathways - use the evidence to create net-zero carbon pathways for the industry.
- Solutions - design, develop and implement solutions that give net-zero carbon outputs for all building products, processes and practices.