Sustainability at Kāinga Ora
At Kāinga Ora, we have an important responsibility of transforming New Zealand’s housing choices, outcomes and the entire housing sector by creating homes and communities that allow New Zealanders to thrive.
As a provider of tenancy services to about 187,000 tenants, maintaining 65,000 homes and delivering 1,100 new additional homes each year, we have a significant opportunity to improve environmental wellbeing through our construction and urban development activities, and to catalyse positive change across the broader New Zealand industry. We are committed to ensuring an equitable and fair transition for our customers.
We want to ensure sustainable practices are integrated into the way we plan our urban development areas, build homes and do business. With six key priority areas we are looking to:
- support a transition to low-carbon construction,
- improve biodiversity and urban ngahere (forest) outcomes in our communities,
- protect and restore waterways surrounding our development areas,
- support low-carbon transport,
- reduce construction and demolition waste,
- ensure our homes and communities are resilient to future climate change impacts.
Our focus areas
As Aotearoa, New Zealand’s largest housing developer, Kāinga Ora aspires to be an industry leader in transitioning the sector to carbon neutral construction practices. Currently, buildings account for 20% of New Zealand's carbon emissions (by consumption), with new builds contributing 5x the amount of carbon permitted under our 2050 targets.
In order to reduce this impact, Kāinga Ora is making the most of its size and scale to not only change the way it builds homes, but to aid the construction industry in making the transition to carbon neutrality.
Electricity demand is expected to increase by 68% by 2050 in New Zealand. At the same time our national network needs to significantly decarbonise (both generation and infrastructure). While some new generation will come from traditional sources we expect that local renewable energy systems will be integral to ensuring New Zealand meets its future energy needs and our customers can access affordable energy. In August 2020 the government announced funding to trial renewable energy technologies on Māori and public housing.
The first trial to be implemented on Kāinga Ora properties involves installation of photovoltaic solar panels on retrofitted and new houses in the Wellington region. Following this we will be running a series of trials looking at the effectiveness of renewable generation combined with energy efficiency on medium density housing. Through the process we are aiming to find commercial solutions that are replicable across other sites, while simultaneously reducing electricity costs for our customers.
Construction and demolition waste makes up 40-50% of all waste sent to landfill in New Zealand. Each new home constructed presently generates an average of four tonnes of waste.
Kāinga Ora aims to lead industry in waste minimisation practices, looking to relocate rather than demolish homes wherever possible, deconstruct for reuse and recycling, and reducing construction-related waste through more efficient material use, on-site waste management practices and recycling.
At Kāinga Ora we build more than just homes, we build communities. Currently, in New Zealand’s urban areas transport is the most significant source of carbon emissions, with it contributing 37% of a typical household’s emissions.
While there are many challenges ahead in transitioning to low-carbon transportation, Kāinga Ora is focussed on what is possible within our realm of influence; creating communities that champion walkability and accessibility to amenities, and encouraging public and alternative modes of transport wherever possible.
Kāinga Ora has a remit and responsibility to assist in re-establishing urban ngahere (forest) in areas where we are a major landowner. The benefits of urban ngahere are numerous and significant, including:
- improved human health and wellbeing,
- enhanced mauri of the land and waters,
- carbon sequestration,
- reduced risks of air, soil and water pollution,
- supporting community restoration and improved local biodiversity, and
- prevention of urban heat island effect.
Kāinga Ora will be aiming to ensure that our own design, construction, and operational practices prioritise urban ngahere outcomes, in addition to partnering with other organisations, landowners and community groups to enable improved outcomes for the broader communities within which we operate.
Kāinga Ora has undertaken a preliminary investigation to understand our greatest sources of emissions. In line with the Carbon Neutral Government Programme(external link), we will be measuring and reporting against our business emissions and ensuring that we are carbon neutral in operations by 2025. This will involve electrification of our extensive vehicle fleet, energy performance certification for our large offices, and focusing on other operational practices to reduce emissions.
However, for Kāinga Ora, we are aware that our business operational emissions are insignificant by comparison to the emissions associated with our construction activities, and with the energy used in our homes over their lifespan. For this reason, we will be expanding the scope of our emissions reporting to include emissions embodied in the products and materials used to construct our homes and related infrastructure, and the estimated energy used by our customers. This will drive improvements in the way we design and build our homes to ensure construction impacts are minimized, and to optimize energy efficiency.
This is our greatest opportunity to reduce emissions and catalyse carbon reduction through our supply chains.
Our customers and homes are likely to, in some places, be significantly impacted by climate change induced events.
We have conducted an initial risk assessment in relation to sea level rise and rainfall event related flooding. We engaged NIWA to review our portfolio and planned investment pipeline against known flood risks.
We are now in the early stage of developing strategy, policy, governance and operational responses to these risks to ensure we can respond quickly and effectively.
Page updated: 11 March 2021