Zero Carbon Compendium

New Zealand

'As of 2010, renewables contributed 38% of the country's total primary energy supply and recent years have witness increased interest in the development of solar, wind and bioenergy systems'

Key Facts

Country Population:4.2 m
Capital Population:391, 000
Area:268, 021 km²
Density:17 people/km²

National Carbon Overview

New Zealand has relatively abundant domestic fossil fuel resources, exporting 40% of its coal reserves and fully self‑sufficient in natural gas – although gas reserves have been depleted faster than expected. A high percentage of New Zealand's electricity generation is produced by renewable technology, primarily hydropower and geothermal power. At the end of 2010, 57% of electricity production was from hydropower, and a total of 73% of electricity was produced by renewables.[1] As of 2010, renewables contributed 38% of the country's total primary energy supply and recent years have witnessed increased interest in the development of solar, wind and bioenergy systems.[2]

The government is keen to upgrade the sustainability of the country's existing and future housing. The New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development have reported that more than a million homes are not adequately insulated (currently 65% of the total housing stock), and that more than 410,000 homes could be making their occupants sick. However, under the EECA Warm Up New Zealand: Heat Smart Programme, 120,000 homes have now been retrofitted.[3]

A variety of measures have been implemented to improve the housing sector, including reconfiguring the housing stock, undertaking community renewal programmes, implementing 'Healthy Housing' solutions, modernising state housing to appropriately defined standards and conducting regular maintenance on existing housing.


Exemplar Project

Talbot Park
Auckland, New Zealand

Talbot Park. Design Group New Zealand.

The Talbot Park project was part of the nationwide Community Renewal Program initiated in 2000 by Housing New Zealand Corporation. Talbot Park aimed to improve outdated state housing and increase density with the building of new dwellings on the site. The five year project included the building and modernisation of 219 homes, which featured many different styles and house types. Completed in 2007, one of the aims for the project was to demonstrate that sustainable housing would have no or little extra cost compared to conventional developments.

Beyond community renewal, sustainable features include insulation standards which are much higher than the Building Code requires. Passive features include natural ventilation and exposed thermal mass to help moderate internal temperatures. All the dwellings include high efficiency, low energy lighting. Care was taken to re-use materials, as well as retaining existing buildings. Solar hot water panels and rainwater tanks have been installed on some of the houses and apartment blocks as a trial to calculate savings for residents.[5]

Policy and Targets

New Zealand's obligation under the Kyoto Protocol is to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels on average over the 2008-2012 commitment period, or take responsibility for any emissions over these levels. The New Zealand Energy Strategy to 2050 (2007) was revised in 2010 and includes cost effective energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. The strategy includes provisions for emissions trading and funding for tidal and wave electricity production. It also states the ultimate goal of reaching 90% electricity from renewables by 2025.

The 'New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy' has been developed to promote energy efficiency and reduce electricity demand.[4] The strategy pertains to energy use in transport, buildings and industry and aims to achieve 5 to 6 million tonnes of emissions savings annually by 2025.

Existing Frameworks

The Building Code of New Zealand provides general building standards. Under the new Building Act (2004), the provisions under the Building Code were further enhanced in 2008 to include thermal requirements for windows in residential properties and more insulation. The new standards apply to new houses, major extensions and multi unit apartments, are estimated to reduce energy consumption by 30%, compared to houses built to the old requirements.

In 2010, The New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC) and Building Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ) launched HomeStar, a national voluntary home performance rating tool. A free online version is available for all homeowners and through the scheme, NZGBC facilitates the certification of residential buildings on a 10 star scale. HomeStar has found that the majority of existing New Zealand homes rate between 2 and 4 on the scale and could be significantly improved with respect to comfort, health and efficiency.

Support, Incentives and Grants

Established in 2009, the 'Warm Up New Zealand' programme has allocated $323 million over four years in the form of government subsidies for heating and insulation.  Residents with houses built before 2000 can receive a free assessment and quote for energy improvements on their home. If they choose to carry out the improvement work, the provider will charge for a portion of the cost (with the government covering 33% of the total amount). Further finance options are available through local councils (paid through homeowners' rates bills) or banks (by adding the cost to an existing mortgage). Through this programme, the government plans to help increase the affordability of improved insulation for 188,500 homes over the next four years.

Additionally, homeowners can apply for the EnergyWise Solar Water Heating Grant which provides $1000 for the installation of residential solar water heaters. Grants are made available through suppliers, not from the government directly.



  2. Ministry of Economic Development. (2010). New Zealand Energy Data File: 2009 Calendar Year Edition.
  3. Housing New Zealand Corporation. (2005). New Zealand Housing Strategy.
  4. Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority. The New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy (NZEECS).
  5. Bracey, Stuart. Making Talbot Park a Better Place to Live. (2007). Build.
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