Ten steps councils can take for a resilient low carbon future

Our councils and local authorities have hugely important roles in the fight to tackle
climate change pollution. And, in a major new initiative, they’re starting to fill those

In a new policy document, the heads of New Zealand’s local governments have
promised to:

• Lead the conversation with the public and stakeholders on how to address the
local impacts of climate change
• Develop local strategies for adaptation action
• Incorporate climate change considerations into long term planning,
infrastructure and funding decision making processes
• Take steps to ensure its activities contribute to a reduction of green house gas

And they have also called on central Government to address the risks, challenges
and opportunities of climate change.

What does this mean for us? Well, homes and buildings produce around 15-17% of
New Zealand’s climate change pollution. If we get our built environment right we are
well on the way to adapting to our changing climate reducing the costs and impacts
of floods, overheating and water shortages.

Policy documents like this are useful. But here are also a number of key steps that
councils could and should take right now.

So here is my top ten list of the steps councils can take to incentivize better buildings
using their regulatory, financial and education options.

Regulatory options:

1) Reduced cost (fees) for consenting buildings.

2) Provide greater flexibility on height restrictions to buildings that have Green Star –
this is what Hamilton City Council offers.

3) Enable greater density for homes built to Homestar – this is what Queenstown
Council are looking to do in their plan.

4) Provide greater consenting support to applicants undertaking projects with a 6
Homestar rating or higher.

Financial policy:

5) Reduced development contributions for sustainable buildings or homes – this is
what Wellington City Council has in their Development Contributions Policy.

6) Where a Homestar rating has been achieved, include this information in the
property file.7) When a LIM report is requested, include information on the Homestar rating (or if
a building – Green Star).
8) Publish data on buildings that achieve Homestar (or if a building – Green Star)
accreditation to raise awareness.

Councils taking the lead:

9) Councils own buildings – Council could rate their own existing buildings using
Green Star Performance – this is what Auckland council is doing.

10) Water provider – The water provider, in some cases, council could reduce the
Infrastructure Growth Charge for homes or buildings that verify they are water
efficient using Green Star or Homestar – this is what we are discussing with some
water providers.

The policy options outlined here are within the remit of councils, and the benefits to
New Zealanders are significant. It’s time for councils to get cracking to ensure our
built environment delivers the future New Zealanders deserve.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m writing this from Wellington, where I’m meeting top
politicians and government officials, to discuss how to make our buildings better.

This type of advocacy is just one way the New Zealand Green Building Council
works. And, as a member, you have a chance to influence how we work right now.

Please do share your knowledge and insights with us in our members survey here.

Source: NZGBC January 2018