Building for climate change

Last updated: 13 August 2021

We're working to reduce emissions from buildings during their construction and operation, and also ensure New Zealand's buildings are resilient enough to withstand changing climate conditions.

The challenges we're facing

The building and construction sector is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions which are emitted when building materials are produced, building are constructed and energy is used in buildings during their operation.

If New Zealand is to reach its climate change goals, including net zero carbon by 2050, the building and construction sector must play its part.

Climate change goals - environment.govt.nz

The Building for Climate Change Programme

In order to help lower greenhouse gas emissions across the building and construction sector, the Building for Climate Change has developed two emissions mitigation frameworks:

Whole-of-life embodied carbon reduction

This framework proposes to set mandatory reporting and measurement requirements for whole-of-life carbon emissions, including from the materials used in construction, the construction process, construction waste, and the disposal of a building at the end of its life.

Whole-of-life embodied carbon framework - mbie.govt.nz

Transforming operational efficiency

This framework proposes to set required levels of efficiency for energy use and water use and define minimum indoor environmental quality measures for buildings.

Transforming operational efficiency framework - mbie.govt.nz

We have consulted with both the public and industry experts on these two frameworks, and the summary of submissions report from this has been released, and is available to read in full.

Building for climate change: Summary report - mbie.govt.nz

We're also currently working on an Adaptation Framework for the building and construction sector.

Adaptation

As a result of climate change, many areas in New Zealand are expected to be subject to more extreme weather events which have the potential to impact on buildings and their occupants. This framework will set out key actions to help ensure New Zealand’s building and construction sector is able to respond to the impacts of climate change. It will focus on two key principles: not building in areas where climate change hazards are likely (e.g. subject to flooding) and ensuring design standards take into account our future climate (e.g. wind pressures and rainfall intensity).

The Building for Climate Change team are contributing to the development of New Zealand’s National Adaptation Plan, which is due to be published in August 2022.

Adapting to climate change in New Zealand - environment.govt.nz

What this means for New Zealand

The changes we're planning will help make homes warmer, drier and better ventilated, and provide a healthier place for us all to work and live. Buildings will be designed and constructed to use as little energy and water as practical, meaning less greenhouse gas emissions.

Once the programme is in place, energy efficiency and carbon emissions will become core considerations when building - just as important as cost and design. Reusing buildings and recycling materials will also be an important part of the building process, and we'll be working with local suppliers so they'll be able to gear up and support these product streams.

Building owners will understand their options, and what to ask for to get an efficient building with a low climate impact.

Our building and construction workers will have the right skills to design and build for energy efficiency, low embodied carbon and climate resilience.

Stay updated

If you would like to receive updates on what's happening in the Building for Climate Change programme, please subscribe to our email database:

Subscribe to our email list

For any further questions about the programme, and how you can get involved, please email BfCC@mbie.govt.nz.

This information is published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Chief Executive. It is a general guide only and, if used, does not relieve any person of the obligation to consider any matter to which the information relates according to the circumstances of the particular case. Expert advice may be required in specific circumstances. Where this information relates to assisting people: