Building for climate change

We’re working on reducing emissions from buildings during their construction and operation, while also preparing buildings to withstand changes in the climate.

The problem we’re facing

The building and construction sector is a large contributor to greenhouse gas emissions from producing materials, constructing buildings and the energy used in buildings.

If New Zealand is to reach its climate change goals, including net zero carbon by 2050, the building and construction sector must play a major part in this.

Climate change goals(external link) - Ministry for the Environment website

The Building for Climate Change programme

The Building for Climate Change programme has been set-up to get us building in a completely different way.  Tackling the climate change challenge will require vision, commitment and perseverance as well as significant change.  It won’t be done overnight and it won’t be easy.

We’ll be setting targets around energy use and carbon emissions that focus on getting New Zealand where it needs to be.  At the start, we should be able to reach the goals through good current practice, but over time, the goals will be increased to make greater carbon savings and emissions reductions.  To meet the goals, we’ll need to make some changes to current building laws – both the Building Act and the Building Code. 

We’ll also focus on starting to change people’s behaviour, and the way they think about building.  We’ll do this through information incentives, and innovation.

At first, we’ll be focussing on how we can build new buildings better.  In the future, we’ll also likely need to look at what changes need to be made to existing buildings. 

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 means that we’ll be working closely with the building and construction sector, other government agencies, iwi, key stakeholders, local government and communities across New Zealand to make sure we get this right. 

The Statement of Intent provides more detail about the programme:

There’s more information about how you can get involved at the bottom of this page.

What this means for New Zealand

The changes we’re planning will make homes warmer, drier and better ventilated, and provide a healthier place for us all to work and live. Buildings will be built to use as little water and energy as practical, meaning more money in New Zealanders’ pockets as well as less emissions

Once the programme is in place, energy efficiency and carbon emissions will become core considerations when building - just as important as cost and design.  Reusing buildings and recycling materials will be an important part of the building process, as well, and we’ll work with local suppliers so they’ll be able to gear up and support these product streams.  

Building owners will understand their options, and what to ask for to get an efficient building with a low climate impact.

Our building and construction workers will have the right skills to design and build for energy efficiency, low embodied carbon and climate resilience.

Next steps

Over the next year, we will engage with the building and construction sector to test ideas, and to make sure we get this right. From next year, a group of initiatives will be launched that will kick start changes in the building sector. 

This webpage will be updated regularly with information about these initiatives, as they’re rolled out.

What you can do now

People working in the industry can

  • increase your carbon literacy
  • develop your technical skills in these areas
  • look to international best practice for energy efficient buildings and low embodied carbon buildings
  • start exploring and understanding the energy efficiency and carbon footprint of the buildings you design and construct

  • give consideration to what will happen to the building at the end of the design life
  • give consideration to designing out construction waste
  • start separating and reducing construction waste, look for opportunities for construction waste to get reused or recycled.

  • alert clients to the MBIE Building for Climate Change Programme, so they can consider getting ahead of the curve
  • start exploring and making use of energy and carbon modelling tools and techniques


  • have an independent assessment of the energy efficiency and/or embodied carbon in a building’s design
  • consider voluntary reporting/disclosure of the energy efficiency and carbon footprint of your projects

People building a new house, or businesses that are procuring a building, can:

  • consider if a new building is needed or if an existing building could be repurposed or upgraded to suit your need
  • consider if an existing building could be upgraded to be more energy efficient, well ventilated and comfortable

  • start asking your design and construction team about the energy efficiency and carbon footprint of your project at the very beginning so it can be set as a priority
  • ask for more than the minimum building code energy efficiency levels
  • start asking how waste will be reduced on your project

  • look for a design team that has experience in designing high performance buildings
  • consider having your building independently rated for energy efficiency and embodied carbon

International co-operation

The Government has also signed up to a joint statement with Australia, Canada and the United States, which will see the countries working together to develop building code responses that reflect the changing climate.

Being part of this ground-breaking collaboration allows us to gather information and insights from other countries, which will help us ensure our homes and offices are being built to withstand the ongoing effects of climate change.

Find out more about the agreement at link).

Get involved

We’ve launched a public consultation on the first two frameworks that will shape the programme – the Whole-of-Life Embodied Carbon Emissions Framework, and the Transforming Operational Efficiency Framework.

  • The Whole-of-Life Embodied Carbon Emissions Framework looks at reducing carbon emissions across a building’s whole life cycle – from the production of building materials, all the way through to what happens to the building when it’s at the end of its life.
  • The Transforming Operational Efficiency Framework focusses on reducing carbon emissions related to the operation of buildings, such as the use of heating, cooling, lighting and ventilation.

Please visit our Building for Climate Change consultation page to read both framework documents, and fill out our survey to submit your feedback:

For any further questions about the programme, and how you can get involved, please email

Stay updated

If you would like to receive updates on what's happening in the Building for Climate Change programme, please subscribe to our email database:

Subscribe to our email list(external link)

For any further questions about the programme, and how you can get involved, please email

Last updated: 03 September 2020