Energy Step Code Aotearoa with Primary Energy (ESCAPE) is a network of New Zealand’s built environment professionals who are working together to put New Zealand on the path to a zero carbon future.


To provide guidance to support New Zealand Government to transition the built environment to net zero carbon.


ESCAPE is made up of developers, engineers, architects, NZ Government, contractors and material suppliers.

With nothing proposed in the next round of building code updates around building performance, it is time for the industry to support MBIE and rally for policy change.

ESCAPE has been established to provide the industry with regulatory building performance measurements with evidence-based recommendations for carbon zero change.

There is a $7billion cost to the nation on respiratory related illness, with 700,000 people living with a respiratory disease.

NZ living conditions

The health of New Zealanders is being jeopardised by the current living conditions.

40,000 kids a year are hospitalised because of the house the live in, and1,600 people a year die because of the house they live in.

Energy consumption

New Zealand homeowners are using up to 60% less power than predicted to heat and cool their homes, and while reducing energy use is a positive step in our efforts to mitigate CO2 emissions, the way in which Kiwis are operating their homes has created unhealthy indoor living conditions.

These conditions are not only impacting on the building itself, but also the health of its inhabitants.

Technical guidance roadmap and evidence based recommendations

Proposal for change

In 2020 ESCAPE will develop a technical guidance roadmap which will set out the targets and the building performance measurements needed to achieve for New Zealand to reach a net zero ready building code, leading to carbon zero.

The change is proposed to happen over a period of time starting with a measuring phase followed by a 3-year cycle of incremental change thereafter.

Alongside the existing Zero Code Roadmap provided from the NZGBC, the addition of building performance targets will provide the industry with regulatory building performance measurements.

Poor indoor air quality (low temperature, high humidity & high indoor contaminants such as
CO2) has a tremendous impact on our health


Buildings should be designed and built so that the required internal air quality performance is clearly defined, and the heating and cooling energy calculated to achieve this performance.

Following the measuring phase, the below graphs show carbon emission reduction over a 3-year cycle period to achieve healthy, comfortable and energy-efficient buildings.

Following a review of the existing code, ESCAPE has identified the following key issues with the current regulation

Issue one: The way we measure energy in buildings is unlike anywhere in the world. A universal measurement needs to be adapted.


TUI – a measurement of total usage intensity 1 kWh / sqm*yr = 1 TUI

Issue two (a): The code currently doesn’t require heating or ventilation which are key to warm, healthy houses (b): There is no performance based requirement to control internal environment in buildings


TEDI – a measurement of thermal energy demand intensity

Define a minimum performance requirement for indoor air quality: 18-25 Degrees C | 40-60% Relative Humidity | <1000ppm CO2

Issue three: The existing code doesn’t suppy any future projections so the industry can’t identify what needs to be planned or managed for the future


Key dates and starting points outlined as a projection for the industry to identify what action is planned, and when it should be achieved by

• 2020 – 200 kWh/sqm*yr
• 2023 – 175 kWh/sqm*yr
• 2026 – 150 kWh/sqm*yr
• 2029 – 100 kWh/sqm*yr
• 2032 – 75 kWh/sqm*yr

• 2020 – 75 kWh/sqm*yr
• 2023 – 60 kWh/sqm*yr
• 2026 – 45 kWh/sqm*yr
• 2029 – 30 kWh/sqm*yr
• 2032 – 15 kWh/sqm*yr

Code development is incremental, focusing on present conditions and little changes we could make yet never challenges the foundation of what we are trying to achieve – energy effciency

What has been achieved so far

British Columbia’s ongoing experiment with their step code is demonstrating that if builders are given a long lead time for a high-performance level and interim thresholds, and given adequate supports, they will step up to the task. They will investigate techniques, materials, and
strategies, and will innovate practices, optimizing costs so they will be ready to deliver on the requirements before they come into force.

Meanwhile, local manufacturers will begin delivering higher performance products and materials to meet the demand.

Unlike the prescriptive approach to energy efficiency in the Building Code, the Energy Step Code does not oblige builders to follow prescribed combinations of materials and wall assemblies. Instead, it sets requirements across a range of metrics, and then leaves it up to the design team to figure out the most cost-effective way to meet them. It also establishes a long-term goal, instead of incremental improvements.

Our goal is to provide a voluntary building performance standard with integrity and proof that it works


  1. Design – Model the building
  2. Built – Build the building
  3. Verified – Test/confirm (energy bill/monitored evidence of internal air quality)

To get involved and support ESCAPE please submit your details and subscribe for more information in the form below