The Accord is working to accelerate the adoption of carbon and waste minimising materials, tools and practices.

The environmental and climate action priority in this focus area has remained largely unchanged. Over the past year, the Accord's efforts have been concentrated on tackling construction waste and supporting others with their climate change work programmes.


Priority: Environmental and Climate Action

The Accord has noticed growing industry engagement on environmental matters, which we have gauged through increasing requests for the Accord to participate in environmental discussions and events, as well as increased interest in information. However, the 2022 Accord Survey found that only around one-third of construction businesses had reported adopting a new environmental or sustainable practices over the past year, with the most frequently cited examples relating to waste management.

The North Island floods at the beginning of this year highlighted the important role the sector will play as New Zealand adapts to a changing climate. The Accord is scoping an initiative to collate and communicate practical solutions to reduce the impact of extreme weather events on residential and light commercial buildings. This climate adaptation work is part of Environmental Initiatives and Research, which includes both commercial and non-commercial research efforts. This includes the Accord's work with Master Builders to design a social media campaign on reducing construction waste. The campaign will target construction workers on site and provide information on how to minimise construction waste using practical and inexpensive actions.

To see an example of how businesses are reducing their environmental footprints, take a look at the Beacon case study on Naylor Love's diversion of construction waste from landfill.

This climate adaptation work connects closely to the Accord's emissions reduction work. Under the Carbon and Waste Measurement Tools initiative, the Accord is supporting the development of construction-focussed carbon and waste tools and information so businesses of all sizes can understand and address their environmental footprints. The Accord is working with stakeholders to develop information for reducing embodied carbon in buildings, including interior fitouts for commercial buildings.

To help progress the government's broader climate change programme and improve coordination on regulatory systems affecting construction, the Accord is collaborating with industry stakeholders and government agencies, including the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. The Accord is conveying industry views on upcoming policies and regulations and using its channels to communicate with the sector and receive feedback.

There is an increased recognition across the sector of the value of waste as a resource and the reputational risks of wasteful practices, alongside an emerging interest in concepts like the circular economy. As part of its Sustainable Construction Cross Sector Forums initiative, the Accord and the Sustainable Business Network jointly held a cross-industry workshop to identify root causes of construction waste using circular economy principles. Workshop participants identified five priority areas to address construction waste. Three of these priorities (integrated design, reverse logistics and product stewardship) have resulted in industry action groups. The other two priority areas (information and knowledge sharing) were identified as enabling projects that will be progressed by the Accord.

Initiative Key partners and Accord leadership groups Mid-term goals Dates
Sustainable Construction Cross Sector Forums Sustainable Business Network
  • Reduced waste and embodied and operational carbon
  • Increased capabilities of leaders to drive change
1/01/2023 - 30/06/2025
Carbon and Waste Measurement Tools Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) Building for Climate Change Team, MBIE Building System Performance Team
  • Reduced waste and embodied and operational carbon
  • Increased capabilities of leaders to drive change
14/08/2023 - 30/06/2025
Environmental Initiatives and Research Registered Master Builders Association
  • Reduced waste and embodied and operational carbon
1/06/2023 - 30/06/2025
Developing Environmental Performance Measures MBIE Economic Strategy Branch, MBIE Building for Climate Change Team
  • Reduced waste and embodied and operational carbon
1/06/2023 - 30/06/2025

Next Steps

To help develop a domestic construction circular economy and reduce the sector's environmental footprint, the Accord will continue to focus on reducing construction waste and emissions. It will also progress work to share information on practical climate adaptation interventions for residential and light commercial buildings.

At present, there is no single set of indicators to track the sector's environmental performance. Quality data about the medium and longer term outcomes for this focus area is a known gap. Through the Developing Environmental Performance Measures initiative, the Accord will investigate the development of a methodology to calculate the circularity of the construction sector. This would enable the sector to be among one of the first of New Zealand industries to create a circular economy baseline to assess and monitor change so that targeted actions can be taken.

The Accord will also scope out a new initiative which would involve independently assessing a selection of building materials and products against a number of environmental measures. This information on building products and materials will provide the construction industry and consumers with neutrally assessed data they can use to compare and select more sustainable products and materials.

Last updated: 26 October 2023