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Emissions reduction plan delayed

December deadline pushed to May.

The Government’s deadline of 31 December 2021 to set emissions budgets and release the country’s first emissions reduction plan has been delayed for five months.

The plan is likely to significantly affect the construction industry. In its advice to Government earlier this year, the Climate Change Commission recommend

  • Extending MBIE’s Building for Climate Change programme for new buildings to also cover existing buildings.
  • Making continuous improvements to minimum Building Code requirements such as energy efficiency standards.
  • Making it compulsory for existing commercial and public buildings to take part in energy performance programmes.

The Commission said at the time: “Achieving the emissions reductions needed to get to 2050 will require our elected officials to move fast to implement a comprehensive plan.”

However, Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced on 15 September that instead of the expected December 2021 release, the plan would not be released until the end of May 2022.

You can find more information here.



New forecasts for rising sea levels

Big implications for coastal homes.

A major assessment of climate changes currently underway and projected for the future has just been released. It is the first part of the Sixth Assessment Report published by the IPCC (the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

Heatwaves have become more frequent and more intense. The speed of global sea level rise is increasing, and these sea level changes are irreversible for “centuries to millennia”.

Under the best possible scenario (where governments around the world agree to make substantial reductions in emissions relatively quickly) the global mean sea level is forecast to rise by around a third to a half a metre over the next 90 years. Under the worst scenario, where there are few reductions made in greenhouse gas emissions, a sea level rise of up to around one metre in the next 90 years is forecast. “Global mean sea level rise above the likely range – approaching 2 m by 2100 under a very high GHG emissions scenario – cannot be ruled out due to deep uncertainty in ice sheet processes.”

The data in the IPCC report is drawn from 14,000 scientific papers. The report was approved by representatives of 195 national governments and is regarded as conservative.

You can find more information here.




Updated Homestar tool launched

Carbon plays a bigger role.

An updated version of Homestar, the green home certification scheme, was relaunched in early August by the New Zealand Green Building Council.

“Under the new version of Homestar, all homes aiming for a green home rating will now have to prove they have lower carbon pollution compared to an average new home.”

The updated tool covers both the embodied carbon in the materials used to construct the building and the operational carbon from building use, for example in heating, hot water and lighting systems.

Almost 5,000 new homes were registered and certified under Homestar in the last year.

You can find more information here.




Northland updates hazard maps

7500 more homes at risk.

Northland Regional Council has released a new update to the region’s coastal erosion and coastal flooding maps.

The maps show areas that may be prone to coastal erosion and flooding within 50 and 100 years. The council has used new data from aerial surveys and extended the areas covered by the mapping, with 11 new sites for coastal erosion mapping and the entire regional coastline now covered for coastal flooding. The result is that many more properties have been identified as at-risk.

The maps will be finalised in mid-July. After that, district councils are required to use the maps to develop rules and policies for managing coastal hazard risks. The information will become part of property information records including LIMs and PIMs.
You can find more information here.




Thermal bridging in walls

Is the answer 2 layers of insulation?

The findings of the second part of a research project into thermal bridging in external timber-framed walls have just been published.

Part 1 of the Beacon Pathway study found that the average percentage of timber framing in external walls in new houses is over 34%, much higher than the 14-18% generally assumed. The results strongly suggest that designed R-values are not being achieved in practice.

Part 2 research just published found that there is little in the way of ‘unnecessary’ timber added to framing. Each piece of timber is added for valid regulatory and practical reasons. Optimising the percentage of framing will not lead to a sufficient reduction in framing (and thermal bridging) to achieve Building Code construction R-value minimums.

Five sample houses complying with the Building Code were modelled. The findings confirm that the thermal resistance of external walls is well below the levels set out in Building Code clause H1/AS1 and below the required minimum of R1.5 set out in clause E3/AS1. Wall panels with large areas of thermal bridging and weak points resulted in excessive heat loss and present a condensation and mould risk.

An alternative approach that will resolve many of the issues is to install an additional thermal layer on the inside or outside of the existing wall system. This creates a thermal break between the timber framing and the external environment as well as providing space to increase the thickness of the insulation.

You can download the report at no cost here and find a bulletin outlining possible solutions here.