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Pollution Busting Home Renos Should Be At Heart Of Next Week’s Government Climate Announcements

The government cannot afford to ignore New Zealand’s homes and buildings in next week’s major climate change announcements, warns the Green Building Council, ahead of the unveiling of the emissions reduction plan, the climate emergency response fund, and the Budget.

The built environment makes up 20 per cent of New Zealand’s carbon footprint, and a typical new Kiwi home emits five times too much carbon to stay within two degrees of warming.

The Green Building Council is calling for a multi-billion dollar government investment over eight years to slash the carbon pollution of around 300,000 homes.

This investment would provide New Zealanders with grants to cover half the costs of a low carbon home renovation. This would not only reduce emissions – it would also make all those homes warm, dry and healthy places, improving New Zealanders health, and slashing household energy bills.

Included in next week’s announcements, say the Green Building Council, should also be an investment to educate and upskill around 40,000 workers in the construction sector, and those looking to transition from fossil fuel related jobs, so they can carry out the pollution busting renos, and also build all new homes to be low carbon.

To further tackle the climate change pollution from the built environment, the Green Building Council say that Monday’s emissions reduction plan should include a mandatory energy transparency programme for public and commercial buildings, whereby they have to reveal their energy use. Such a move in Australia has saved seven million tonnes of carbon and created savings of over AU$1billion since being introduced nine years ago.

Andrew Eagles, chief executive of the Green Building Council, said:

“Carbon pollution from homes and buildings is responsible for a very significant 20 per cent of New Zealand’s climate change emissions. It’s absolutely vital that next week’s government plans and budgets support the drive to get this pollution out of our homes and buildings.

“That’s why an ambitious, and ambitiously resourced, plan for carbon busting renos must be the centrepiece of next week’s announcements.

“The cleanest, cheapest form of energy is the energy you don’t use. Low carbon renos for our homes will cut the amount of energy needed to keep them warm, dry places for families to thrive in.

“And, if ambitious enough, renovating thousands of homes each year would reduce the amount of energy needed on cold winter evenings to such an extent that we wouldn’t need the coal-fired Huntly power station to kick in when our demand overloads the grid, as it does now.

“Unlike other sectors, we know the way to tackle built environment emissions. Our homes and buildings can do the heavy lifting between now and 2030, while less prepared sectors get into gear.”

A low carbon home renovation, often called a deep energy retrofit by building experts, includes measures such as improving insulation in walls, ceilings, and floors, which help keep a comfortable, healthy temperature with less need for constant heating and cooling, alongside installing heating and cooling appliances, like heatpumps, that are energy efficient and suitable for the size of the home. It can also include making sure hot water is heated efficiently, and keeps its temperature through the pipes.

A government investment in deep energy home retrofits would provide the certainty needed for the construction sector to get behind the changes, say the Green Building Council.

As well as significant health benefits, households would save considerable amounts in their household energy bills, added the Green Building Council.

Many European Union and OECD countries have deep retrofit programmes. Ireland, similar in population and economy size to New Zealand, with a similarly poor amount of homes, is working to deep retrofit 500,000 homes by 2030.

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