Sustainable development set to ramp up in 2017

As New Zealand’s construction sector continues to boom, sustainable building methods are gaining a firm foothold, says New Zealand’s Green Building Council.

There’s a lot of work in the pipeline at NZ Green Building Council (NZGBC) as it heads into 2017 with the energetic new CEO, Andrew Eagles, at its helm.  NZGBC is currently developing a suite of lower-cost, simpler rating tools; their scope will also be widened to include performance and communities.

Eagles says they expect to announce details in the first half of 2017. “The construction sector is enjoying a boom at the moment. It’s exciting that so many companies are working with us to ensure the homes and buildings they’re delivering and managing will create a legacy of quality, productive places for New Zealanders, for years to come,” he says.

At the end of 2016, no fewer than 6400 homes were registered for Homestar, an independent tool that rates and communicates the sustainability and performance of New Zealand homes.

The need for earthquake-resilient buildings is greater than ever, and last year NZGBC began rewarding project teams that implement seismic mitigation strategies through Green Star’s Earthquake Resilience Innovation Challenge.

“It’s exciting to see some councils providing support for quality builds, through higher density allowances and lower development contributions,” said Eagles. He said exemplar buildings are constantly setting new benchmarks, and the visionaries behind them are influencing the rest of the industry.

From residential houses, to offices and warehouses, the trend for applying sustainable building methods is growing. Auckland’s Zurich House and Bayley’s House; Ceres Organics’ food warehouse; and residential homes that featured on the The Block last year, are just a handful of examples.

“We’ve noticed a shift in the materials industry, in particular in timber and carpet – it’s now far easier to find products that have a certified eco-label, and low-VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) options to contribute to a healthier indoor environment”, seaid Eagles.

The Green Building Council has also recorded a growth in the number of projects that combine active and passive design strategies. Sophisticated building management systems help owners and tenants monitor their mechanical services and reduce energy use. Passive design maximises daylight and natural ventilation to reduce heating and cooling costs, and also includes indoor greenery to contribute to a healthier, more productive environment.

“Once developers tried Homestar and understood what goes into a rating, they realised it’s just a better way of building that creates more desirable homes”, noted Eagles. The Homestar rating tool is now being used by industry leaders Fletcher Living, Willis Bond, Panuku Development Auckland, Housing New Zealand and many others.

Want to learn more about GreenStar, or to have your say on how the rating system can be improved? Register for NZGBC’s ‘Day of Truth’, to be held in Auckland January 31.