Climate standards for new Govt buildings

  • From 1 April 2022, new non-residential governments buildings with a capital value over $25 million will have to meet a minimum Green Star rating of five
  • The same standard will apply to government buildings with a capital value over $9 million from 1 April 2023

The Government is rolling out its plan for a carbon neutral public sector by 2025 by requiring that all new non-residential government buildings are climate friendly, Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash and Climate Change Minister James Shaw announced today.

From April 2022, agencies covered by the Carbon Neutral Government Programme will have to make sure new buildings over a certain value meet a minimum Green Star rating of five. The announcement comes as countries gather to discuss how to reduce emissions from buildings at a dedicated Built Environment Day COP26 in Glasgow.

“Our Government has committed to achieving carbon neutrality in the public sector within five years. Today’s announcement takes us a step closer towards delivering on that promise.

“These minimum standards will ensure Government buildings achieve a level of excellence in climate-friendly design and construction that is rarely seen in New Zealand. Leading by example in this way will create job opportunities in the low carbon building sector and expand the market for more commercial buildings to also achieve higher environmental standards.

“Buildings are big emitters, but the solution to this – such as improved design, better waste management, improved water and energy efficiency, and the use of low carbon materials – is achievable. Cleaner, climate-friendly public buildings are not just good for the planet, they will also improve the health and wellbeing of the people who visit, work and learn inside them.

“Introducing these standards builds on the work we have done to support schools, tertiary institutions, hospitals, and other government agencies to replace fossil fuel boilers with cleaner alternatives and improve the efficiency of their buildings,” said James Shaw.

The Green Star standard operates on a system of 100 points, with 4 star, 5 star or 6 star ratings available.

“The minimum 5 star rating will apply to new non-residential buildings for around 140 government agencies who follow the Government Procurement Rules,” said Stuart Nash.

“From 1 April 2022, government agencies must achieve a minimum 5 star rating for new non-residential buildings with a capital value of $25 million or more.

“From 1 April 2023 when constructing a new non-residential building with a capital value of $9 million and over, agencies will be required to achieve a minimum 5 star rating for projects.

“This particular Green Star system is administered by the NZ Green Building Council and is adapted to suit a New Zealand context, such as earthquake resilience.

“More sustainable building systems will help government agencies plan to reduce carbon emissions. The decision also sends an important signal to the construction, design and building supplies sector to expand capacity and capability to meet demand,” said Stuart Nash.

Media contacts

Minister Shaw, Tom Crick 021 832 423

Minister Nash, Kathryn Street 021 803 707

Note to editors

*Government agencies that follow the Government Procurement Rules https://www.procurement.govt.nz/about-us/mandate-and-eligibility/eligible-agencies-procurement/

Other work underway to reduce emissions through more sustainable building and construction standards for public sector buildings includes:

The new procurement guide for building and construction issued in June 2021

The Procurement Guide reflects the government’s goal to transition to a carbon neutral public service. The procurement practices of public service agencies have the power to influence decisions by private and community sectors when it comes to carbon-neutral and low-emission technologies.

Government agencies must now clearly record decisions about the way they choose design options. If they choose a design that is not the lowest possible carbon option to meet their project brief they must identify the reason for this, and have the decision signed off by their Chief Executive.

It is also in line with the recommendations of the Climate Change Commission’s final report. 

The NABERSNZ initiative for energy efficient buildings:

Since January 2021 all mandated property agencies have been required to implement an energy efficiency building rating standard over 5 years from January 2021 where they occupy single tenanted, co-tenanted or co-located government office accommodation over 2000 square meters.

There will be a requirement to achieve a minimum of a NABERSNZ 4 star rating when establishing new leases and a minimum of a NABERSNZ 5 star rating for newly built office accommodation.

NABERSNZ is specifically designed to rate the operational energy (and energy-related emissions) performance of office buildings once they have been built and are in use. The introduction of sustainable building rating tools will be complementary to the requirement to use NABERSNZ. 

 The Building for climate change initiative

The Minister for Building and Construction has a programme of work to drive long term change in the sector to meet the challenges posed by climate change, and to meet our target to be a net zero emissions nation by 2050. 

The programme, referred to as Building for Climate Change (BfCC) is focused on:

  • Improving the operational efficiency of buildings; improved efficiency will lead to lower operational emissions, also known as operational carbon, from buildings;
  • Reducing the whole of life embodied carbon of buildings which includes emissions generated from production of construction materials, construction processes, construction waste disposal and disposal at the end of a building’s life.

The programme may lead to specific reporting requirements and carbon caps which new building projects must meet as part of securing a building consent or code of compliance certificate. The BfCC programme is also likely to consider the longerterm role of sustainable building rating systems and tools in the building system.