Emissions reduction

bfcc mitigation

The Building for Climate Change programme is leading the building and construction sector's approach to emissions reduction.

Overview

The Building for Climate Change programme is leading the building and construction sector's approach to emissions reduction and will be introducing measures to limit emissions due to the construction and operation of buildings.

We have consulted on two frameworks for reducing the embodied and operational carbon emissions of buildings and have published a technical methodology for assessing the whole-of-life embodied carbon of new buildings in New Zealand.

We are also developing processes, tools, and guidance to support the sector’s transition to a low-emissions future state.

2020 consultation submissions summary - mbie.govt.nz

Emissions Reduction – Whole-of-Life Embodied Carbon

Whole-of-life embodied carbon refers to emissions associated with the use of materials in a building, as well as the construction processes throughout the whole lifecycle of the building (e.g. initial construction, maintenance, renovation and demolition). It includes the embodied carbon of construction materials (e.g. timber and steel), and emissions from activities such as transportation, construction and waste disposal.

The Building for Climate Change programme will be introducing new requirements to measure, and over time, put a cap on the whole-of-life embodied carbon emissions of new buildings.

There are three main ways we are looking at reducing the embodied carbon of buildings:

  1. improving new building efficiency (e.g. ensuring new buildings are resilient, built-to-last, and as big as they need to be but no bigger, also that we are making the best use of existing buildings),
  2. improving material efficiency (e.g. designing smarter buildings that use less material for the same functionality and performance, and reducing waste at construction and demolition stages through greater reuse and recycling of materials),
  3. reducing the carbon intensity of construction materials and products (e.g. through using lower carbon materials such as timber, or reducing the emissions from the manufacture of materials such as concrete and steel).

The proposed measures have been outlined, and consulted on, in the Whole-of-life Embodied Carbon Framework.

Whole-of-Life Embodied Carbon Framework – mbie.govt.nz

In response to the feedback received on this Framework, we consulted with technical experts from New Zealand and around the world to develop and publish a technical methodology for assessing the whole-of-life embodied carbon of buildings in New Zealand. This is intended to improve the consistency of assessments that are already being carried out ahead of them becoming regulatory requirements, as well as introduce embodied carbon assessments to others who may be less familiar with the concepts.

Whole-of-Life Embodied Carbon Assessment: Technical Methodology

The next step is to develop more detailed regulatory proposals to bring whole-of-life embodied carbon requirements into the Building Code. We'll be consulting publicly on these requirements in late 2022. We will also be working with technical experts and the sector to ensure that embodied carbon data and tools are available to support the regulatory requirements.

Transforming Operational Efficiency

Operational emissions are generated when using a building. This includes energy used for heating, cooling, cooking, ventilation, lighting and appliances, and water used when operating a building.

The Building for Climate Change programme will be introducing measures to limit operational carbon emissions in new buildings. The proposed measures have been outlined, and consulted on, in the Transforming Operational Efficiency Framework.

There are four main ways to transform operational efficiency in buildings:

  1. Improve the thermal performance of buildings and indoor environmental qualities (e.g. through the design and orientation of the building, and appropriate insulation and ventilation)
  2. Improving the energy efficiency of building services (e.g. efficient heating and cooling systems)
  3. Improving water efficiency (e.g. through water efficient designs and fittings)
  4. Reducing fossil fuel use (e.g. through using renewable energy sources for heating or cooking)

Transforming Operational Efficiency Framework – mbie.govt.nz

These measures will shift energy use away from fossil fuels. About 4% of New Zealand's domestic emissions in 2018 were from fossil fuels used in buildings for space and water heating, cooling and cooking. The Building for Climate Change Programme will support work to manage the phase-out of fossil fuels, including fossil gas, and will work with industry and communities to support an equitable transition.

The Building for Climate Change Programme will also work to improve the operational efficiency of existing buildings. Actions currently in place such as the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority's Warmer Kiwi Homes Programme, the continued rollout of the Healthy Home Standards, and Kāinga Ora's work to improve the operational efficiency of its building stock are all helping to improve energy efficiency. The Building for Climate Change Programme will build on these foundations.

The next step is to finalise and publish the technical methodology for operational efficiency. Following this, we will develop more detailed regulatory proposals to bring operational efficiency requirements into the Building Code. We'll be consulting publicly on these requirements in late 2022.

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: