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Climate change is on the agenda

07 Nov 2019


Article by CCNZ Technical Manager Stacy Goldsworthy

We have a Government which is committed to New Zealand becoming a world leader in climate change action, and New Zealand is on the path to a ‘low emission, climate resilient future’.

At this stage, whether you believe in human influence on climate change or not has become irrelevant. NZ Inc. signed up to the Paris Agreement, and this is starting to trickle down through the supply chain.

It also means civil contractors will be asked what we are doing as an industry to reduce carbon emissions. It is expected that more government departments will request suppliers firstly understand what their carbon footprint of greenhouse gas emissions is, and secondly have a plan to reduce them.

This means central and local government contractors and suppliers will increasingly be asked to provide information on how they are reducing their carbon footprint as part of the tender process, and throughout projects.

The Zero Carbon Bill

The new Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon) Amendment Bill sets the terms of how New Zealand’s commitments under the Paris Agreement will affect businesses. The Environment Select Committee is currently considering the Bill, which is set to come into force this year.

What is the Government looking to achieve?

In 2015, New Zealand met a previous target under the first Kyoto Protocol commitment period of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012 by submitting its “True-up Report” to the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The Government now aims to reduce our emissions to net zero by 2050. The Zero Carbon Bill will set a new emissions reduction target by 2050 and proposes to establish an independent Climate Change Commission.

We have three current greenhouse gas emissions reductions targets:
• a 2020 target to reduce emissions to 5 per cent below 1990 levels
• a 2030 target to reduce emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels
• a 2050 target to reduce emissions to 50 per cent below 1990 levels.

What can we do to reach these targets?

CCNZ will communicate changes to members as they happen and is in the process of creating working groups to give input into how any changes are implemented across industry.

As with any change, you need to understand where your business is at. There are several ways of doing this:

  • Undertake a review of your operations to understand your carbon footprint. This review can be easily achieved if you monitor data like fuel usage, electricity usage, gas consumption etc. If not, this is information you will need to collate to begin to understand what your carbon footprint looks like. The process for measuring your carbon footprint is described in detail in this article from the Sustainable Business Network.
  • Sign up to a carbon emission certification scheme. These schemes provide certification that is  recognised through the supply chain. Through these schemes, you can partner with other companies that are also certified. This takes the hassle out of working with the supply chain, because most of the heavy lifting has already been done.

Programs include:

Engaging a specialist to undertake an audit of your business can provide you with recommendations to reduce your carbon footprint.   

Sustainability schemes

Many schemes provide users the ability to rate projects on sustainability initiatives. The most widely adopted in New Zealand is the scheme operated by the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia, more commonly known as ISCA. The following link will give you an idea of what is required  https://www.isca.org.au

ISCA is the best one I have come across purely because it gives you a spreadsheet to put your information into and therefore it will give you a tangible outcome. Their tools and resources section provide information on how it works.

Waka Kotahi NZTA has also previously used Greenroads to review several of its projects, resulting in reviews that contractors were generally doing a pretty good job.

Six things you should consider at tender time

To play in the sandpit and win contracts at tender time, you will need to have a considered response to questions around your approach to carbon emissions.

These are the type of questions you will be asked during the tender phase:

Energy Efficiency
Do you have an Energy Efficiency plan? 

Are you taking steps to reduce the amount of energy that is used to deliver a project? 

Energy use reduction can take many forms from the use of LED light bulbs to hybrid excavators to building insulation to retain heat.  Some contractors have also installed solar panels on their workshops to help power their operations.

Greenhouse gas emissions
Do you have a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated by your activities? 

Whether it be giving staff an electric vehicle to replace their 4x4 utility or a creating an all-of-business targeted emission reduction plan, you should be able to detail how your business has identified emissions and plans to reduce them.

Solid waste reduction
Do you have plan to reduce waste generated from your activities?

The construction industry is reusing materials. In-situ stabilisation of pavements and recycled asphalt are great examples of reuse of current materials that adds value. For each project you should consider how you limit the generation of waste.

Using tools like CivilShare can help you reduce waste and gain access to recycled materials at a much lower cost. Civilshare is an app designed to reduce waste and connect projects to minimise resource use, saving landfill fees and connecting projects with useful materials.

Water efficiency 
Do you have a plan to reduce water use?

Focus on measuring water used for activities and look at controls to reduce its use. For earthworks this could be retaining rainwater on site to use as dust control (if site conditions allow).  
 
Supply chain 
Are you working with your supply chain to deliver sustainable products and services?

Key to the success of any organisation is their supply chain. Discussing initiatives your supply chain has to improve the outcomes for your project. 

A great way to do this is through Environmental Product Declarations, which allow suppliers to understand fully the effects on the environment the sourcing and manufacture of their product has.  

An example of an Environmental product declaration is from Golden Bay Cement. https://epd-australasia.com/epd/eversure-gp-cement-and-everfast-he-cement/

Resilience
Do you have a plan for when the big one strikes?

The Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes sent a shock wave through New Zealand business. These two events lead to widespread disruption to how business was conducted. 

A plan should not only focus of what will you do in a natural event but also economic disruptions such as recession and technological change. Your business should be resilient and ready for these changes.

 

 

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