Homestar rating tool proving popular
More people are using the New Zealand Green Building Council’s Homestar rating tool with a significant increase over the past two years, says NZGBC director of market transformation, Sam Archer.
“The tool has had exponential growth and now around 6700 new homes are registered under Homestar, up from 670 in two years indicating a ten fold increase since 2015,” Sam says.
“This proves that New Zealanders want reliable and independent assurance that they are buying and building, healthier homes that attain high standards of sustainability and efficiency,” he says.
Homestar was introduced in 2011 in response to the property and construction sector’s desire to provide a recognised stamp of approval for home sustainability and performance in New Zealand.
Sam says that Homestar was developed from successful international rating tools and adapted for New Zealand’s conditions.
It can be used on any residential building, from stand-alone homes to multi-unit dwellings.
A home is rated on a scale from 1 to 10: 1 means it needs significant work and 10 indicates international best practice.
He says that most new homes in New Zealand built to Building Code achieve a 3-4 Homestar rating and most existing homes only achieve a 2-3 Homestar rating.
Sam says that a high Homestar rated home helps homeowners save money on home operating costs, results in better health and well being for occupants and helps reduce climate impacts.
In order to encourage further usage of the tool an updated version, that is even easier to use, will be available from end of July.
Its release follows six months of industry input, a national tour, advisory group and scoping papers.
Greenstar Performance is another tool that the NZGBC will release later this year.
Aimed at existing commercial buildings, the tool will help builders, developers and building owners to determine the status of the building.
Sam says the tool was released in Australia two years ago and there has been huge uptake by those undertaking new builds.
“There is a real desire by landlords to benchmark buildings and improve their stock.
It assists in the marketing of the building making it more attractive to tenants.
“It is also becoming important for the investor market globally in recognition of the risks around climate change and possible government regulation changes around buildings,” he explains.
EECA Business in collaboration with the New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC) has also introduced NABERSNZ – a scheme to measure and rate the energy performance of office buildings in New Zealand.
Sam says NABERS is already mandatory for commercial buildings in Australia over 1000 square metres and can see the same happening in New Zealand one day.
Already this year NZGBC has doubled the number of rated buildings compared with the previous three years the scheme has been in existence.
The tools though are just part of what the NZGBC offers.
A not-for-profit, industry organisation it was formed in 2005 and became a member of the World Green Building Council in 2006.
The NZGBC promotes the benefits of sustainable buildings and assists the property and construction sector to acquire the skills and knowledge needed to be able to deliver a sustainable built environment.
There are more than 70 Green Building Councils around the world.
NZGBC is also a member of the Construction Industry Council.
So what defines a ‘green building’? Sam says a “green” building is one that is designed, built and operated in ways that reduce or remove any negative impact on the environment and the people using it.
Green buildings make more efficient use of resources such as energy and water, and provide healthier environments for people to live and work in.
Green building practices can also reduce construction and operation costs.
He says that green buildings are also good for the bottom line as green commercial buildings deliver better returns for owners and investors, and are in greater demand from tenants.
“International evidence shows that green buildings enjoy better occupancy and better returns,” he says.
He says New Zealand has one of the weakest building codes in the developed world, something he is keen to see change but says he is encouraged by the number of large organisations choosing to become members such as Auckland Airport, Housing NZ, Tamaki Regeneration Company, Watercare and RCP, who are just some of the newest members.
“Our vision is that New Zealanders live, work and play in healthy, efficient and productive buildings in a sustainable built environment,” says Sam.
“The fact more people are using the NZGBC rating tools is evidence that the message is getting out there and we are moving in the right direction.”