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Net Zero Buildings is the carbon neutral standard for New Zealand building operations

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Net Zero Buildings is the carbon neutral standard for New Zealand building operations. Buildings must prove a high level of operational efficiency, before offsetting any residual emissions. 

For building owners and portfolio managers looking for an entry point to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and a low carbon future, the latest development in low carbon certification for New Zealand’s existing buildings is here.

Net Zero Buildings certification tracks all major sources of carbon emissions in building operations – energy, water, waste and refrigerants.

Once measured, you can better manage, reduce, then offset, providing stakeholders including owners, investors, tenants and finance providers insight into the building’s impact on the environment. Ultimately, you’re providing assurance of your commitment to low or no negative impact on the environment.

Net Zero Buildings requires:

  • a minimum level of performance for energy – you are required to reduce carbon before offsetting

  • adoption of a carbon reduction plan to work out your next steps toward net zero

  • obtaining carbon offsets as the final step to attaining carbon neutrality for your building

  • recertification annually to measure and monitor your progress

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Benefits of certification

Measurement and management for better performance

Reporting on building performance allows development of business cases for ongoing improvement, development of your emissions reduction planning, provides input to ESG and financial reporting including meeting management needs for climate- related risk.

Climate and market resilience

Understanding impact on energy, water, waste and refrigerants demonstrates your commitment to a low carbon future for your property portfolio

Competitive advantage

As tenants, investors, employees and financiers are seeking organisations that have a strong commitment to environmental and social governance (ESG), certification shows your commitment to leadership and can differentiate your business from others

Transparency

Independent certification is the best way to report your building or portfolio’s impact on climate  

How to get certified

Benchmark your energy performance

To start, you need to demonstrate that your building or buildings meet the minimum level of energy reductions (based on peer benchmarks). You can do this by obtaining a NABERSNZ rating for your office building or via the Green Star Performance pathways.

Get in touch with the NZGBC team or a Green Star Accredited Professional to discuss how these can be applied to your property portfolio.

Register for Net Zero Buildings

After achieving the minimum level of energy reductions (based on peer benchmarks), register the building with NZGBC and pay the certification fee.

If you have rated with NABERSNZ or Green Star Performance, there is a discount available for your building.

Full registration documents can be found here

Submit your carbon reductions

Now it’s time to put together your submission for Net Zero Buildings.

This will comprise your minimum energy reduction, a calculator capturing the four emissions sources, a carbon reduction plan, evidence of cancelled carbon offsets for emissions for that year and a public disclosure via the NZGBC website.

What types of buildings?

Existing office buildings

These can be rated through the NABERSNZ pathways for both base building and whole building. This is required to be certified to fulfil the NABERSNZ process.

All other buildings

Other building types can demonstrate minimum energy performance requirements with Green Star Performance – this can be certified or non-certified. There are three calculators to assist with this, depending on the building type and availability of data:

 

Pathway B – retail buildings, and retail only shopping centres have industry benchmarks established so your building can be compared to this benchmark. A logistics warehouse benchmark is currently being developed and will be available to use very soon. Please contact NZGBC for more information.

Pathway C – establish a peer benchmark with three comparable buildings to demonstrate better performance.

Pathway D – for unique buildings, establish a historical benchmark for that building and demonstrate energy emission reductions over time.

Register a project

Download and complete the form below and send it to the NZGBC team to begin your journey to Net Zero Buildings certification

Resources for professionals

Full details for meeting Net Zero Buildings certification can be found in Net Zero Buildings Standard 1.0

The following resources are also available to help with your submission and the certification process

Pioneer projects

Since developing the tool, we are grateful for the commitment of three NZGBC members who have tested the tool, methodology and process.  

My project-3-1
Argosy
 
82 Wyndham Street, Tāmaki Mākaurau Auckland. 
ECan-building
Kaunihera Taiao ki Waitaha | Environment Canterbury Regional Council
 
200 Tuam Street, Ōtautahi Christchurch 
My project-4-1
PAG Investments
 
155 Fanshawe Street, Tāmaki Mākaurau Auckland.  

Frequently asked questions

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NZGBC is collaborating with Toitū, who have been a part of our Net Zero Carbon Roadmap journey since 2019. Toitū are able to provide carbon offsets that are recognised by this tool and also have a carbon credit verification service for any carbon offsets that aren’t pre-approved.

For office buildings, a NABERSNZ Accredited Assessor can help. For other building types, we suggest working with a ‘Green Star Accredited Professional – Performance’ who will be familiar with the Green Star Performance tool for existing buildings. Other similar professionals such as energy auditors may be able to assist too.

No, Net Zero Buildings is only applicable to base buildings and whole buildings.

The base certifications for Net Zero Buildings is as follows (excl GST):

  • NZGBC Member - $2,900

  • Non-NZGBC Member - $3,900

  • Discount for buildings that are certified with NABERSNZ or Green Star Performance - $900

Additional costs to consider include:


You will also have to procure carbon offsets for the year’s building operations emissions which comes at a cost.

For office buildings that use the NABERSNZ pathway, a NABERSNZ Accredited Assessor is required to produce this rating. Fees vary amongst assessors. The base certification fee for NABERSNZ is $990 + GST with discounts available for smaller buildings, multiple buildings being rated simultaneously and buildings that are being re-rated (getting the rating renewed).

Refer to the NZGBC website for fees for certifying with Green Star Performance. Although certification is not necessary, it is encouraged and attracts the discount to the Net Zero Buildings fee.

Start by looking at your asset and understanding what opportunities are available for decarbonisation. Populate the carbon reduction plan template on our Net Zero Buildings resources page and consider achievable timeframes.

  • Energy typically includes electricity, any gas use, diesel (including backup generators, testing and fire systems), and any other fuel sources. Water encompasses all potable water use and waste water. Wastewater is calculated automatically in the Net Zero Buildings calculator.

  • Waste refers to operational waste and the way this is processed from the building. This may include landfill waste, different types of composting (find out the exact composting process your service uses), or recycling. Of course, reuse is most encouraged so that waste is not generated at all. A waste audit is one way of capturing these waste streams.

  • Refrigerants refer to the refrigerants in your building services such as HVAC equipment. Ensure you have complete and clear information about all building services equipment and what sort of refrigerant it uses as well as how much was topped up during the rated period.

  • All of the figures entered into the calculators need to be justified by evidence and the auditor will check this as a part of the carbon audit so make sure utility bills, metered data and other documents are complete for the full 12 months, easy to access, and well organised. This makes entering it into the Net Zero Buildings calculator so much easier and makes the audit process much smoother.

This is to be confirmed by Toitū Envirocare. Please contact them about any carbon offsets you are considering.

The inspiration behind Net Zero Buildings is to recognise the interconnected relationship our built environment plays in supporting communities and the surrounding environment.

Our stylised rainbow - āniwaniwa, has interconnected strands representing that the air, water and land are all connected and continuous in movement. Air is a taonga derived from Ranginui. CO2 has the potential to disrupt the mauri and essentially the life force of all taonga associated with air – the natural environment including plants, wildlife, waterways, and whenua (land).

The āniwaniwa (rainbow) is one of nature’s most beautiful optical phenomenon. Across cultures it represents optimism, enlightenment, balance and positivity; and is seen universally as a symbol of joy, hope and aspiration.

In developing a tool for measuring, managing and certifying carbon neutrality for buildings, it reminds us of our whakapapa, of Te Ao Mārama and tiaki – to care for people and place.

 

Since launching the Zero Carbon Roadmap in September 2019, we’ve seen great advances in the progress of New Zealand’s building and construction sector to a low carbon future. But we can always do more.

Globally, there are wide ranging initiatives underway, such as the World Green Building Council’s Net Zero Buildings Commitment. In following these changes, you may have also noticed a change in language – from zero carbon, carbon neutral, to net zero (and carbon positive which is another discussion!).

It’s refreshing to see our members from across financial services, building and construction, and government becoming increasingly aware of the need to reduce before offsetting, which is how we have developed Net Zero Buildings.

The NZGBC recognises the use of offsets as a last resort. i.e. once all steps have been taken to reduce, the final step to achieving net zero or carbon neutrality is offsets.

This is why a carbon reduction plan is an important part of achieving the Net Zero Buildings certification.

Get the best from your building

Green Star Performance

Benchmark your existing building operations with Green Star Performance - a holistic certification for all non-residential building types

Benchmark office energy use

NABERSNZ provides an independent assessment of energy use in office buildings, incentivising measurement and ongoing efficiency improvement