Microsoft Report: Accelerating the Journey to Net Zero

Microsoft New Zealand has released an extensive study of local organisations’ performance on sustainability and carbon reduction, highlighting where the most support is needed to reach our net zero carbon goals. It spotlights Jasmax’s industry-leading approach to sustainable design.

Led by researchers from Goldsmiths (University of London), the Accelerating the Journey to Net Zero report notes that while 76% of local businesses planned to be carbon neutral by 2050, New Zealand’s net emissions had grown 60% since 1990, one of the fastest growth rates in the world. Of the more than 800 decision-makers surveyed, around a third said their organisation was set to miss the 2050 target without help.

Even more concerning, the real deadline for many businesses is not 2050, but 2030, given that actions taken today are already affecting future emissions, such as the materials used in buildings that last 50 years or more.

The greatest challenge identified for New Zealand businesses was getting enough in-house expertise and resources to enable their transition to net zero carbon. The report found that less than half (43%) of organisations had enough funding to make their plans possible, while just 38% had enough workers with the right skills to implement their environmental sustainability strategies and 29% had the right technology in place.

The report includes commentary from Carbon Research Lead, Dr Paul Jurasovich, and Head of Communications, Roberta Johnson. It states: Jasmax has been tracking its greenhouse gas emissions since 2015. Scope 1 and 2 emissions from sources like air conditioning and electricity use are easy to measure. Now, the team is zeroing in on scope 3 emissions, such as those from employee travel, which account for 80% of the firm’s carbon footprint. Jasmax isn’t stopping there, however.

“As architects, our greatest impacts result from the projects we design and the future they create,” says Johnson.

Building materials like steel and concrete have significant carbon footprints, with most emissions occurring in the construction and demolition phases. So, Jasmax has undertaken externally verified, ISO-accredited research into lifecycle carbon emissions from its projects and is using the evidence to inform design decisions. The firm has committed to all projects being net zero by 2030. “Buildings have a long life,” explains Jurasovich. “So if you want to target net zero by 2050, you have to start making net zero buildings now.”

The company is also finding ways to adapt existing buildings, incorporate timber and other low-carbon steel and concrete substitutes, and design buildings with longer lifespans, which will curb future emissions from demolition and deconstruction. It is also designing buildings that can be dismantled at end of life, with elements than can be reused rather than demolished and sent to landfill, such as the University of Canterbury’s Beatrice Tinsley Building.

Alongside design services, Jasmax now provides a carbon assessment consultancy, supporting businesses in making robust decisions on how best to reduce carbon emissions in the built environment. The practice is also currently working directly with government providing sector-specific guidance.

Interview with Dr Paul Jurasovich on NBR here: NZ journey to carbon zero needs fuel - report | NBR

Associate Principal and Carbon Research Lead Paul Jurasovich

Associate Principal and Head of Communications Roberta Johnson