Our views on MBIE’s Building for Climate Change

Metals New Zealand supports New Zealand’s commitment to Zero Carbon 2050.  We acknowledge that climate change represents the most significant challenge for mankind if we are to keep global temperatures below 1.5 degrees (above pre-industrial levels).

Metals New Zealand also supports the intent of MBIE’s proposed Building for Climate Change (BfCC) to help address the challenge through transforming New Zealand’s construction sector and building resilience to climate change.

However, we don’t support the BfCC’s approach – as we outline in our submission on the Building for Climate Change discussion documents 

The BfCC proposal only targets embodied carbon in structures and has a very limited perspective of operational emissions, ignoring key emission sources and key mitigation opportunities:

  • embodied carbon in the remainder of products comprising the building
  • emissions resulting from the actual construction
  • emissions from the actual operation and maintenance of the building
  • how the building is treated at end of life – landfill or harnessing the circular economy through re-use/re-purposing and recycling of components?

Such a piecemeal approach won’t achieve zero emissions from our built environment, which is an extremely complex system – as we outline in our submission. 

To transition to zero emissions, New Zealand needs a whole-of-system approach based on cradle to cradle methodology which includes existing and new buildings. 

This will involve significant changes in attitudes and behaviours: from how we design, build/retrofit, operate and maintain our buildings, and how we deconstruct, re-purpose, reuse or recycle at end of life – we cannot continue to bury our waste materials, particularly when much of construction waste is new material.

To achieve this transition New Zealand will need a basket of incentives and regulations, a roadmap to guide us on the journey and measurement along the way.

It is also important to understand that New Zealand’s journey to 2050 is not just about carbon.  New Zealand needs to measure its progress to 2050 across broader frameworks – for example, the Living Standards framework and the four capitals – natural, human, social and financial / infrastructure.  New Zealand needs to continue to invest in our workforce; in our businesses; particularly our manufacturing (on which our construction sector depends); we need strong connected communities and widespread stewardship of the natural environment.

We want the BfCC team to adopt an approach that considers the current and future context of New Zealand’s built environment, engages all the stakeholders across the built environment and the owners/occupants of our buildings on the journey.

Read our submission on the Building for Climate Change