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The Building for Climate Change programme is leading the building and construction sector's response to climate change.

Building for Climate Change Programme overview

MBIE's Building for Climate Change Programme is responsible for leading the building and construction sector's response to the climate crisis.

The programme was established in 2020 with the aim of guiding the building and construction sector to achieve its contribution to New Zealand’s emissions reduction targets, and make sure our buildings are prepared for changing climate conditions.

The programme is working on a range of initiatives to reduce emissions and increase the climate resilience of our built environment:

  • Reducing whole-of-life embodied carbon emissions
  • Transforming operational efficiency
  • Supporting adaptation and building climate resilience.

Emissions reduction goals

New Zealand has committed to achieving net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. Achieving this goal will require transformative change in many sectors of the economy – including building and construction. 9.4% of New Zealand's domestic GHG emissions in 2018 were building-related; this includes emissions from the energy used to operate a building, and the carbon emitted from manufacture, transport, use and disposal of building materials and products. Note this increases to 15% of emissions when only considering long-lived greenhouse gases.

We aim to reduce the building and construction sector's impact on climate change through actions that will, directly and indirectly, reduce emissions production.

New Zealand's Emissions Reduction Plan outlines the specific actions for the building and construction sector to reduce emissions and contribute to New Zealand's overall emissions reduction targets.

Learn more about New Zealand's emissions reduction targets – environment.govt.nz

Climate adaptation goals

Alongside reaching net-zero emissions, New Zealand is also working on a plan to better prepare for future climates. For the building and construction sector, this means increasing the ability of our built environment to withstand the impacts of climate change, such as more extreme and more frequent weather events.

Existing homes and buildings in New Zealand have a life span of between 50 and 100 years, but most were not built or located with the future climate in mind. As the climate changes, an increasing number are at risk of becoming less liveable, damaged, or completely destroyed.

The Building for Climate Change programme is contributing to New Zealand's National Adaptation Plan, which will outline the building and construction sector's approach to adaptation. This plan is due to be published August of 2022.

Read more about the proposed actions – environment.govt.nz

Give your feedback to help inform the draft National Adaption Plan – environment.govt.nz

Building for Climate Change programme vision

The vision for the Building for Climate Change programme is that by 2050:

  • New Zealand's building-related emissions are near zero, while providing healthy places to work and live for present and future generations, and
  • Homes and buildings are resilient to the impacts of climate change and meet people's social and cultural needs.

Achieving this vision will provide a range of positive outcomes, including:

  • New Zealand's buildings are more comfortable, drier, and better ventilated, leading to improved health and wellbeing for building users.
  • New approaches to building and design that support a more efficient, innovative and productive sector, and result in cost savings for building owners and occupants.
  • The building and construction sector forms a core part of a New Zealand's bio-circular economy that minimises waste, supports the re-use and re-purposing of materials and strengthens local supply chains.
  • Communities and individuals have the tools and information they need to manage and minimise climate risk of new and existing buildings.

How we'll get there

The Building for Climate Change programme challenges us to think about how we build in a completely different way, putting energy efficiency and carbon emissions at the core of our building designs and processes.

To play our part in reaching New Zealand's overall zero carbon goal, we need significant reductions in emissions from building and construction. These reductions need to start now and be sustained over the coming decades.

We expect that together, we can reduce building-related emissions by 0.9Mt – 1.65Mt CO2-e (million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent) in the 2022-2025 period. This will largely be through extending and encouraging current good practice within the industry. For reference, 1Mt CO2-e is the equivalent of roughly 4,000 full flights (approximately 1.3 million passengers) between Auckland and Los Angeles.

We'll also be improving data and tools to help people understand and measure their emissions, and setting up the legislative frameworks and the technical infrastructure that will form the foundations for future work.

Over time, the levels of emission reduction required will increase. We'll focus on a broader range of measures including new regulatory requirements, behaviour change programmes, incentives and support for new technologies and innovation.

At first, we'll be focussing on how we can design, construct, and operate new buildings better. In the future, it's likely that changes will also need to be made to ensure existing buildings operate as efficiently as possible.

Any changes we make will be thought through carefully, and we'll talk to the people who will be affected by the changes first.

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: