Under construction: hidden emissions and untapped potential of buildings for New Zealand’s 2050 zero carbon goal

Constructing and renovating New Zealand buildings between now and 2050 could pump out climate change pollution equivalent to one million cars on the road every year, a new report by New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC) has revealed. This figure – around three million tonnes of carbon – only includes embodied carbon, the pollution emitted during the manufacture and construction of a building and its materials, and is separate from operational carbon, emitted during the buildings’ operation for heating and lighting. Based on publicly available data and information provided by concrete, steel, timber and other sectors, the report suggests that the construction industry could slash emissions by around 1.2 million tonnes of carbon every year – the equivalent of taking almost 500,000 cars off the road. The New Zealand government is striving to make the country net zero carbon by 2050, in line with international agreements to tackle climate change. The report, called Under Construction: Hidden emissions and untapped potential of buildings for New Zealand’s 2050 zero carbon goal explores the impact that constructing new buildings will have on these efforts at the national level.

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