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There is a gathering momentum worldwide for countries and organisations to commit to being net zero carbon by 2050 in the wake of the Paris Agreement of 2015. New Zealand, along with 196 other countries, agreed to make ambitious cuts in greenhouse gas emissions consistent with holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

Buildings have a significant role to play in bringing about a low carbon economy.  A report by Thinkstep showed that the construction and operation of buildings and infrastructure is responsible for around 20% of New Zealand’s domestic emissions (net of emissions from traded goods).


The NZGBC has launched (in conjunction with Toitū Envirocare ) its Net Zero Carbon Roadmap for Aotearoa, and an accompanying rating tool to allow New Zealanders to benchmark their buildings and certify to a net zero carbon standard.


Toitū Envirocare Chief Executive Dr Ann Smith says that “the construction and operation of buildings makes up 20 percent of our national carbon footprint”, and “around half of these emissions are from direct emissions in the operation of buildings. Setting reduction targets and identifying how to make buildings more efficient will make a meaningful difference to our wider emissions profile”.


In addition, reducing carbon emissions from  building operations has the potential to save building owners and operators a lot of money in reduced energy bills, either by driving forward energy efficiency measures, or by investing in on-site renewable energy technologies.


NZGBC Chief Executive Andrew Eagles says the carboNZero buildings operations certification framework will fit within the NZGBC’s Zero Carbon Roadmap for New Zealand’s buildings, which sets out steps for building owners to reach net zero.


For more information on how to certify your building operations as carboNZero,

Introduction to the NZGBC’s carboNZero in building operations programme

The built environment is responsible for approximately 20% of our country's carbon footprint. The NZGBC has set out the Zero Carbon Buildings roadmap which identifies the steps that New Zealand needs to take to get all our buildings zero carbon by 2050 and all new buildings zero carbon by 2030.

The roadmap also launches a set of tools to allow New Zealand building owners to benchmark their buildings and certify against a net zero carbon standard.


Step 1

An easy first step is simply to transparently report the results of the building's energy bills over a 12-month period (a web-portal will be made available for this purpose)


Step 2

To receive full carboNZero Building certification, buildings will have to meet minimum carbon performance standards through either NABERSNZ or the greenhouse gas emission credits in Green Star Performance, as follows:

  • 4 Star NABERSNZ rating or higher for all office buildings OR

  • 8 out of 20 points (base building) or 9 out of 23 points (whole building) in the ‘Greenhouse Gas Emissions’ Credit of Green Star Performance.


  • Demonstrate that there is a carbon reduction plan for the building. This must include a plan to phase out fossil fuel consumption on site by 2025.


Step 3

Once the above minimum requirements have been met, the building can register for official carboNZero certification and submit data about emissions and any supplementary material required by the programme, such as reporting of the purchase of refrigerants and some Scope 3 emissions (i.e. emissions associated with products and services bought in connection with the operation of the building, such as waste disposal)


Step  4

The final step before certification is to mitigate any unavoidable emissions by purchasing carbon credits through one of Toitū Envirocare's offset programmes or any programme that meets the minimum offset requirements of the carboNZero Buildings programme. Once remaining emissions have been offset, the building will receive carboNZero certification.

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