Concern for all aspects of environmental sustainability is advancing rapidly as the evidence of potentially devastating climate change mounts. One response to this concern is for local governments responsible for enforcement of building controls to encourage environmentally sustainable commercial building design via various initiatives and incentives. In this research an international literature review was undertaken to identify what initiatives and incentives have been trialled in different countries. This was followed by survey to gauge the degree to which these incentives and initiatives have been implemented in the New Zealand local government context. All territorial authorities were invited to respond and a response rate of 46% was achieved. A low degree of implementation was reported by the respondents that contrasted with a high level of interest and willingness to try more initiatives and incentives. A number of reasons are proposed for this low implementation rate. These include; a lack of both financial and human resources to effect implementation, as well as a lack of clear long-term goals and an integrated set of sustainability policies across the different levels of government.