How to reduce carbon emissions in the construction sector

The construction sector is a significant contributor to carbon emissions, from producing materials, to constructing buildings and the energy used in buildings. The sector needs to play a major part if New Zealand is to reach its climate change goals, including being net zero carbon by 2050.

This webinar was recorded on 28 July 2021. It includes speakers from the Construction Sector Accord, the Government’s Building for Climate Change Programme, Jasmax, Warren and Mahoney Architects, Holmes Consulting and Naylor Love.

Understanding carbon in construction

As part of the Construction Sector Accord's Towards High Performance webinar series, experts from government and industry shared best practice, lessons learnt and some of the key challenges in reducing carbon emissions in the construction sector.

Speakers covered a variety of key issues including:

  • the New Zealand Government Procurement's recently published Procurement guide to reducing carbon emissions in building and construction
  • carbon emissions and the building life cycle
  • embodied carbon versus operational carbon
  • reduction targets and sustainable design
  • adaptive re-use.

Key speakers

Richard Stone – Senior Construction Procurement Leader, Construction Sector Accord

Richard discussed New Zealand Government Procurement’s recently published Procurement guide to reducing carbon emissions in building and construction. The guide was produced in consultation with the Construction Sector Accord, and is a first step towards supporting government agencies to lead the way in reducing carbon emissions generated by the construction of new government buildings.

Katie Symons – Principal Engineering Advisor, Building for Climate Change Programme, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

The Building for Climate Change Programme aims to drive transformational change in the sector to meet the challenges posed by climate change, and to meet the target of being a net zero emissions nation by 2050. Katie discussed the programme and its work to increase carbon literacy and develop a methodology for embodied carbon in New Zealand.

Chris Scott – Principal Architect, Jasmax

Chris is one of New Zealand's leading education design specialists and believes the key to reducing carbon emissions in the construction industry is to repurpose existing buildings, rather than build new structures. He shared advice on adaptive re-use and measuring carbon in the design phase to achieve net zero carbon targets.

Graeme Finlay – Director and Chairman, Warren and Mahoney Architects

Warren and Mahoney recently launched a three-year PhD study to produce a framework for reducing carbon emissions in the design of buildings. Graeme is passionate about creating sustainable design solutions and was involved in the establishment of the New Zealand Green Building Council. He talked about the research study and how to develop carbon reduction targets.

Lisa Oliver – Project Director, Holmes Consulting

Lisa is an experienced structural engineer with a passion for sustainable design and an expertise in structural timber. She believes that as the impact of embodied carbon is better understood and increases in importance, so does the role of structural engineers in sustainable design. She covered how we can reduce embodied carbon in buildings by using low-carbon materials.

Scott Watson – Business Development Director, Naylor Love

Naylor Love were looking for a way to demonstrate the significant carbon savings that can be made by incorporating timber into buildings to clients and architects, so they commissioned a carbon calculator that compares the emissions of different alternatives for a structure. Scott introduced the calculator and explained why Naylor Love have made it freely available to other industry players on their website.

Last updated: 02 August 2021