The Green Party says it will overhaul the building code and work towards net zero energy new buildings by 2030 in order to accelerate the transition to a low carbon future if it is elected.
Another part of its sustainable building plans includes the introduction of mandatory energy efficiency ratings for all commercial and residential buildings, both new and existing.
Party co-leader James Shaw says a zero carbon Aotearoa is only possible if we go "further and faster than we have been able to this term, and take urgent action to cut emissions from all buildings. This means rethinking the way we design, build and use our homes and workplaces".
He says homes and buildings are responsible for approximately 20 percent of the country's carbon footprint and that emissions from the construction sector have increased by two thirds over the last decade.
The Greens' plan for sustainable buildings also includes:
- Creating a rental warrant of fitness to complement the existing Healthy Home Standards
- Kick-starting Aotearoa New Zealand's sustainable building materials industry, with a particular focus on scaling up sustainable timber processing and prefabricated buildings. The Green Party's Farming for the Future plan also set a target for government building contracts to use sustainable local timber
- Supporting green roofs and other "soft" infrastructure
- Ensure new government buildings are built to high environmental standards
Shaw says: "Zero carbon Aotearoa is only possible if we go further and faster than we have been able to this term, and take urgent action to cut emissions from all buildings. This means rethinking the way we design, build and use our homes and workplaces so that they have a positive impact on our climate and natural environment...
"Mandatory energy efficiency ratings for all buildings would be a great step forward and the difference it would make is huge, because when we understand the impact a building is having on the climate, we can work to reduce it.
"Improving the way we design and use buildings would make a significant contribution towards meeting the climate change targets the Greens in government have put in place. Next term, we want to make sure that climate change is at the centre of how we build and use buildings in Aotearoa."
Announcing the policy at an environmentally friendly building on Wellington's waterfront, Shaw used the Green Star rating system - which gives a building points based on nine categories contributing to its overall environmental impact - as an example of what new efficiency ratings could look like when introduced.
"The Green Star system is ... the best system we have got and it would make sense as the baseline for us to operate from."
Asked about costs involved, Shaw says if standards were introduced across the board, then that cost would be reduced.
"One of the reasons at the moment that the more environmentally-friendly buildings cost more than your bog-standard is because they are rare."
He says that in the United Kingdom, there was resistance to changes in building codes because it would believed they would drive up costs.
"In reality, because it was a mandatory code change, because everyone was sourcing the same materials, the supply chain adjusted and costs did not go up or did not go up terribly significantly."