Government’s Building for Climate Change Programme – nice vision, simplistic approach

The Sustainable Steel Council very much supports the intent of the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment’s proposed Building for Climate Change (BfCC) Programme – to transform the building and construction sector and improve New Zealand’s climate resilience.

Great stuff – that’s where we are aligned. We also agree that a systems-change is needed, and that means changes in the attitudes and beliefs of people making the day to day decisions as well as those of the consumers who drive the Sector’s responses.

That’s no easy task and won’t be done overnight. It is a challenge that requires bold vision, commitment, perseverance and crucially – collaboration with the wider Sector, including those producing and manufacturing the materials.

What we don’t support is the BfCC’s proposed approach  – targeting only embodied carbon in structures with a very limited perspective of operational emissions.

This ignores the critical embodied carbon in the remainder of products comprising the building; the actual construction (along with the construction waste generated; the actual operation and maintenance of the building and how the building is addressed at end of life, along with re-use/repurposing and recycling of components or landfill).

Such a fragmented approach will not enable New Zealand to reach its goal, is likely to alienate much of the Sector and delay New Zealand effectively addressing emissions from buildings.

The approach is also out of whack with the Government’s policy to transition to a circular economy – a transition that will be crucial for the Sector to achieve New Zealand’s target of zero emissions from buildings.

We have an opportunity here to work together on a better future – and the window small – so it’s critical we get the policy frameworks right and build a platform for collaboration to make it happen.

The SSC has already demonstrated through our accredited membership that the sector is committed and moving in the right direction.

In our submission, the SSC is encouraging the BfCC team to engage broadly with stakeholders across the sector to jointly develop and deliver an effective plan to reduce emissions from the built environment. We also join others in proposing a more holistic approach and in our submission we list the components that will be essential to a fair and effective  transition to a low emission, circular economy, providing international examples which are pertinent to New Zealand.

Ultimately, New Zealand’s journey to 2050 is not just about carbon.  New Zealand needs to measure its progress to 2050 across broader frameworks – including the Living Standards framework and the four capitals – natural, human, social and financial / infrastructure.

Our submission is evidenced-based and solutions focused – download Sustainable Steel Council NZ Submission on proposed Building for Climate Change Programme