Shot in the arm for Engineered Timber

New Zealand green building leaders are calling for urgent action on building efficiency, following new analysis that has revealed the built environment is responsible for about 20 per cent of all national greenhouse gas emissions, a figure up to 10 times previous estimates.

Other studies have claimed the sector’s emissions are responsible for anywhere between two and five per cent of total emissions. The five per cent figure, which was included in last month’s NZ Productivity Commission Low Emissions Economy draft report, is based only on the operational emissions of buildings.

The thinkstep figure takes into account emissions associated with construction, as well as the products consumed within buildings and emissions associated with building products that are either imported or exported. Of the about 20 per cent of the national gross carbon footprint attributable to the built environment, 8.6 per cent of emissions come from energy use, 8.7 per cent from building products, 2.1 per cent from imported emissions (the majority of which are services such as insurance) and 0.5 per cent from building and garden waste.

The report used an international methodology that has also been implemented by organisations such as the European Commission, Danish government, the US National Bureau of Economic Research and NZ’s Motu Economic and Public Policy Research. It allocates emissions to a sector at the point of consumption, rather than production, and considers the entire lifecycle of buildings, including the extraction of raw materials, material production, electricity and energy use, and the treatment of construction waste.

The NZ Green Building Council has backed the study, and said the results indicated the government should be increasing resources and efforts to reduce emissions from buildings. NZGBC chief executive Andrew Eagles told The Fifth Estate the report’s findings should be a “real wake up call for people to think more deeply about materials”.

The findings are also a real shot in the arm for suppliers of materials with lower embodied carbon, such as engineered timber products, he said. The report found that just over six per cent of NZ’s gross carbon footprint came from the production/construction phase of the built environment – 2.6 per cent from steel, 1.6 per cent from aluminium, 1.9 per cent from cement and other non-metallic minerals such as aggregates, and 0.1 per cent from other sources.

Wood products were excluded as their emissions cannot be easily separated from pulp and paper, and their maximum possible emissions contribution is only 0.5 per cent of the national total. More >>

The report can be read here.

Source: thefifthestate

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