Tag Archives | green building

Code for smarter cities released

The Smart Cities Council, covering Australia & New Zealand, and the Green Building Council of Australia released a new practice standard last week which they said would address issues relating to telecommunications connectivity, data insights, digital planning practices & innovation districts.

The 2 organisations released the Code for Smart Communities in Sydney, as part of Smart Cities Week Australia. They said it would set a new benchmark for urban development practices across greenfield communities, urban regeneration precincts & diverse institutional campuses.

Smart Cities Council executive director Adam Beck said the release of the code was an “important milestone after deep engagement with the development industry, technology companies, city shapers & all tiers of government.

“This is the first time a smart community has been defined in a way that can be practically applied. We went back to principles to build this code from the ground up.”

Green Building Council of Australia chief executive Romilly Madew said there was a strong synergy between the sustainable development outcomes articulated in the green star – communities rating tool and the enabling opportunities from technology & data to enhance community outcomes: “This work will provide us with the opportunity to ensure smart cities principles are embedded in green star as the rating system evolves to meet industry & global trends, and continues to deliver environmental efficiencies, productivity gains and health & wellbeing outcomes in our buildings & communities.”

Chris Isles, planning executive director at Place Design Group, a technical partner in the code’s development, said it would be a single source for planners, developers, communities & governments as they shape cities & suburbs.

Mr Beck said 2 projects would be the first to embrace the code’s principles:

  • Yarrabilba, a Lendlease community in Logan City, on the Brisbane fringe, set to be home to over 40,000 residents, and
  • Sydney Olympic Park, planned to grow into a 23,000-person community with more than 30,000 jobs.

Lendlease was the code project’s lead partner. Matt Wallace, managing director of its communities business, said: “Our customers are expecting more seamless connectivity in all aspects of their lives, from high-speed broadband at home to free wi-fi in the park.

“Our smart community flagship, Yarrabilba, has provided us with a platform to test & evolve a range of technologies to optimise people’s lives to create healthier, safer & more sustainable communities.”

In addition to the new code, the Smart Cities Council’s Smart cities explorer illustrates technology options, their place-based outcomes and relationships to the metrics of the new code.

Smart communities code
Smart cities explorer

Attribution: Smart Cities Council release.

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Ceres food warehouse wins 5 green star rating

Ceres Organics Ltd’s 5500m² food warehouse in Mt Wellington is the first building of its type in New Zealand to gain a 5 green star rating.

Only 2 other buildings in New Zealand have been certified under the green star industrial tool, and this is the first food warehouse to do so. A rating of 5 green star denotes New Zealand excellence.

Ceres has a precast concrete warehouse at 82 Carbine Rd with a 2-level office building attached. Managing director Noel Josephson said sustainability was vital to the company’s ethos, and Green Building Council chief executive Alex Cutler said it was exciting to see green star being used on an industrial project.

The building is oriented to make the most of passive solar heating & natural light. Built on a brownfield site, the project incorporated material recycled from the former derelict building. Concrete was chosen for the bulk of the building structure to give good thermal mass, helping it stay cool in summer and warm in winter. The need for mechanical air-conditioning & artificial lighting is minimised through natural ventilation & daylight harvesting.

Building owner Norak Properties Ltd (Barry & Diane Rissetto) developed the new building for Ceres. The green star accredited professional was Paul Jurasovich, senior project architect & sustainable design consultant at Williams Architects.

Mr Josephson said: “Our business is organics, and we’re serious about walking the talk on sustainability. So the design & construction of our new building had to have low environmental impact. Our team of 80 staff moved in at the end of 2013 and we’re all delighted with the result. We’re more than 40% more efficient in terms of energy use than the previous building. It’s also a lovely building to work in, with good natural light & fresh air. Getting the green star rating is icing on the cake, because it’s proof of the high sustainability standard we were aiming for.”

Ms Cutler said: “Ceres has shown real leadership by using green star to ensure & endorse the environmental standards of their building. It’s particularly exciting to see that they’re tracking energy use & carbon, which gives a very clear picture of real-life performance. The benefits of sustainable building accrue year on year in terms of lower energy & water use, less waste, better staff satisfaction – Ceres is a living example of that and I’m sure they will inspire others.”

Other sustainability features of the building include:

  • solar hotwater system
  • rainwater collection system, with low water usage fittings
  • fully automated building management system to monitor lighting, CO2 levels and water & energy usage
  • energy-efficient LED lighting
  • dedicated recycling area to minimise the volume of waste that goes to landfill
  • low-VOC (volatile organic compounds, which affect indoor air quality), sustainably sourced materials, and
  • substantial greenery in the office environment.

The project picked up points for innovation under the green star rating, including for the stringent carbon footprinting Ceres used to measure the building’s impact.

Attribution: Green Building Council release.

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New Homestar version targets apartment quality

A new version of Homestar, the rating tool for New Zealand home sustainability, is intended to make it easier for apartment buyers to gauge the health & efficiency of their homes.

The Green Building Council launched Homestar version 3 yesterday with updates specifically to suit higher density developments, making it easier to use the tool on largescale multi-unit projects such as apartments & terraced townhouses.

The updated Homestar includes factors specific to multi-home developments:

  • rewarding shared areas that promote community activities, such as landscaped areas or playgrounds
  • levels of natural light within apartments
  • efficient heating & air-conditioning
  • use of brownfield sites to minimise urban sprawl.

Homestar, run by the Green Building Council, was introduced in 2010 with the backing of the Government & industry to help improve the often low performance of New Zealand homes.

Chief executive Alex Cutler said the updates made Homestar more flexible, so it can work well both for standalone houses as well as developments of many homes.

Homestar is a comprehensive, national, independent system that rates the health, comfort & efficiency of homes on a scale of 1-10, at both the design & built phases. Ms Cutler said a 6-Homestar rating or higher would provide assurance that a home would be warmer, healthier & cost less to run than a typical new home.

The typical New Zealand home rates around 2-3 Homestar, while a new home built only to building code would rate around 4 Homestar. The proposed Auckland unitary plan includes a 6 Homestar rating as a minimum requirement for developments with multiple homes, a provision now being applied in Auckland’s special housing areas.

The Homestar tool review was supported by principal sponsor Willis Bond & Co Ltd and associate sponsor Ockham Residential Ltd.

Both developers have been piloting the new Homestar. Willis Bond & Co last month became the first project to achieve Homestar ratings across a largescale development, with 113 homes at Wynyard Central gaining at least 7 Homestar Design.

Ockham Residential’s new Daisy development in Mt Eden has been appraised as being on track for a 9 Homestar Design rating.

Attribution: Green Building Council release.

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New guide aims for better building performance

A new resource launched last night encourages tenants & landlords to join forces to create better performing, more energy-efficient buildings.

The Performance Leasing Guide & Model Clauses is a joint initiative between the Government & industry, developed by the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority, lawyers DLA Piper NZ and the NZ Green Building Council.

The guide has model clauses that may be pasted directly into lease agreements and covers issues such as co-operation between tenants & landlords, energy use, water & waste, quality of the indoor environment and use of rating tools such as Green Star & NabersNZ.

It was adapted from a resource produced by Sydney’s Better Buildings Partnership, a government/industry initiative. Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority chief executive Mike Underhill said the Sydney partnership had had a demonstrably positive impact – a recent leasing index showed two-thirds of Sydney office leases contained best practice clauses, many drawn directly from model clauses supplied by the partnership.

He said the guide complemented other tools available to the commercial property sector such as NabersNZ, the rating for office energy efficiency.

“Globally the trend is towards greater transparency about building performance, as both owners & tenants recognise the advantages of well run, energy-efficient spaces. Owners want lower operating costs & better asset value, while tenants want to be in spaces that support productivity & wellbeing.”

DLA Piper partner Justin March said the guide was intended to help landlords & tenants set clear expectations about building performance at the very beginning of the relationship.

In-depth master classes on best practice leasing, drawing on the guide & clauses, will be held in Wellington & Auckland on Friday 10 July.

Links: For more information & to register
Performance Leasing Guide

Attribution: Joint release.

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Norman Disney & Young succeeds in energy efficiency drive

Professional services engineering consultancy Norman Disney & Young has achieved a 4-star ‘excellent’ rating for energy use in its downtown Auckland tenancy by making some small changes and committing to energy efficiency.

The firm’s Auckland-based team of 50 works from an 833m² fifth-floor tenancy in the AMP Centre at 29 Customs St West, built in the 1980s and owned & managed by Precinct Properties NZ Ltd.

The NabersNZ rating shows the tenancy uses 64 kWh of electricity/m²/year, denoting excellent energy efficiency compared to similar New Zealand office tenancies.

As part of a project examining its wider environmental management, Norman Disney & Young scrutinised its energy use. It replaced desktop computers with more energy-efficient laptops and installed occupancy sensors to control lighting in a third of the office.

The consultancy’s global director of sustainability, Tony Arnel, said staff were aware of the impact of small actions such as turning computers & lights off at night because of their sustainability-related work.

NabersNZ benchmarks office building energy efficiency on a scale from 1-6 stars. Ratings are based on 12 months’ energy use and can be carried out for whole buildings, tenancies or base buildings (covering common areas & services provided by the landlord). The rating system is licensed to the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority and administered by the Green Building Council.

Attribution: Company release.

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A 9-star, and now a 10-Homestar rating

A house under construction in Papamoa, down the coast from Tauranga, is the first in the country to achieve the highest possible rating of 10 Homestar. Among its many sustainable features are photovoltaic panels for solar energy, a system that controls when appliances switch on and a piping system that captures passive heat to warm the home.

Homestar is the independent system that rates the health, comfort & efficiency of New Zealand homes on a scale of 1-10. It was launched in 2010 and about 200 Homestar-rated projects have been built.

The 230m² showhome, designed & built by the Tauranga-based Belvedere Group Ltd (Trevor Wilkinson) in Palm Springs, Papamoa, is due for completion in July. It’s in a range of homes designed to be sustainable & cost-effective, through minimising waste and maximising passive design. Belvedere’s Ecostar range, with homes rated from 7-10 Homestar, will be launched at the Tauranga Homeshow this weekend.

Green Building Council chief executive Alex Cutler said this was a landmark moment for the New Zealand building industry and an indication of the growing interest in healthy, energy-efficient homes: “The Belvedere Group has shown a strong commitment to sustainability, proving that a truly ‘green’ home is within reach for many New Zealanders. I’m sure their achievement will inspire others.”

Ms Cutler said although the house features many innovative & smart solutions, one of the key reasons it scored 10 Homestar was due to commonsense design choices such as good orientation for sun and high levels of insulation: “It doesn’t have to be rocket science to design a really efficient, sustainable house.”
Belvedere senior quantity surveyor Paul Chapman said they set out with the aim of achieving 10 Homestar, using the core principles of the tool as their design brief:

“Homestar provides a clear framework for home sustainability, which is why we placed the tool at the centre of our Ecostar Homes range. We’re offering comprehensive eco-friendly features, innovative technology & energy efficiency at a range of prices.”

Commercial manager Iain Gleaves said the company aimed to deliver sustainable homes with lower running costs: “We have calculated our 10 Homestar home would save the average 4-person Tauranga family $3198.68/year. Our starting point for the range, which will be a 7 Homestar Design-rated house, will save $1833.59/year.

“It’s not difficult to deliver cost savings, health benefits & a welcoming environment, and we’re delighted to prove that with our 10 Homestar Design rating.”

Features of the 10 Homestar home include:

  • A hydronic underfloor heating system where pipes under the driveway absorb passive heat and pump hot water to the underfloor heating system
  • Photovoltaic (PV) energy system & solar hot water (any excess solar energy is used to heat the tank that supplies underfloor heating)
  • A smart home system that turns on appliances (eg, dishwasher & washing machine) during off-peak energy periods, when occupants are out and the PV capacity is high
  • Fully insulated concrete slab edge to minimise heat loss
  • Wider 140mm exterior framing to allow room for extra insulation that exceeds NZ Building Code standards
  • Rainwater harvesting & greywater recycling system
  • Leak detection system that shuts off water automatically when there’s a leak or tap left running
  • A Lifemark 5 star rating for safety & accessibility, ‘future-proofing’ the home

During the build period, a strict waste management plan and a recycling programme will reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill.

The 10 Homestar design home will be priced around $785,000. The 7 Homestar designs range, in the current stages of Tauranga’s Palm Springs development, are priced from $435-580,000, which Mr Chapman said was comparable with many other group home builders’ products.

A 9 in Addington

It beats a house under construction in Addington, Christchurch, which has achieved a 9 Homestar rating.

Developer & architect Bob Burnett is a longstanding advocate for sustainable design and a member of an industry group aiming to encourage 1000 new houses in Christchurch that rate 7 Homestar or more.

His 140m² 2-storey house in Church Square, Addington, is due for completion in late June and he’s also targeting a 9 Homestar Design rating for an adjacent single-storey house in the development.

Mr Burnett said: “The rebuild is an unprecedented opportunity to make the city’s housing stock warmer, healthier & more energy efficient. A little extra thought & good design at the outset will lead to a lifetime of savings & good health.”

The Green Building Council’s Alex Cutler said Church Square showed that embracing sustainability was not only smart but desirable as the city rebuilt: “This home is stylish, energy-efficient and built to high standards of earthquake resistance – it’s a fantastic milestone for sustainable home building in New Zealand.”

The house features rainwater harvesting & grey water, water-efficient fittings, photovoltaic solar power and energy-efficient lighting & electrics. All paints & sealants are low VOC (volatile organic compound), and other materials are certified by Environmental Choice NZ or the Forest Stewardship Council.

A solar wall ventilation system uses the sun’s energy to preheat ventilation air, substantially reducing heating expenses. Slab-edge insulation (to stop heat loss from concrete floor slabs) and innovative hydronic underfloor heating also keep the home snug. The strict waste management plan meant there was no skip bin on the building site, forcing workers to think about how to reuse & recycle as much as possible.

A high-performance thermal envelope was achieved thanks in part to an innovative framing system called ‘Frame Saver’, which significantly reduces the amount of timber used and allows room for more insulation. Additionally, external wall frames are at least 140mm thick and have a chemical-free rigid air barrier (RAB). These innovations also provide superior resistance to wind and earthquake loads that far exceeds Building Code requirements.

Links: Belvedere Group
Bob Burnett Architecture

Photo above: Belvedere Ecostar Homes managing director Trevor Wilkinson (left), commercial manager Iain Gleaves & senior quantity surveyor Paul Chapman. Photo by Tracy Hardy.

Attribution: Green Building Council releases.

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Green building organisations BRE & GRESB join forces

BRE, the organisation responsible for marketing & developing the BREEAM green building certification scheme, and GRESB, a global sustainability benchmark for real estate portfolios, said yesterday they’d become partners.

They said the partnership would improve connections between asset- & portfolio-level assessments, streamlining the flow of relevant, actionable information.

The UK-based Building Research Establishment (BRE) began publishing its assessments – BREEAM (Building Research Establishment environmental assessment methodology) – in 1990.

BRE Group is a building science centre that generates new knowledge through research, which is used to create products, tools & standards that drive positive change in the built environment. It’s owned by the BRE Trust, a registered charity which uses the profits made by the BRE companies to fund research & education. BRE Global Ltd is an independent third-party approvals body offering certification of fire, security & sustainability products & services internationally.

Dutch company GRESB BV is an industry-driven organisation committed to assessing the sustainability performance of real estate portfolios. It’s a subsidiary of US non-profit corporation, the Green Building Certification Institute Inc.

Other major green certification organisations are LEED in the US (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) & NABERS (the National Australian Built Environment Rating System). The Green Building Council and the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority adapted the Australian system for New Zealand and called it NabersNZ.

Attribution: Joint release.

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Aiming up while others aim low: McGuinness style will lift Wynyard precinct

In a city with a recent track record of low-quality leaky homes but aspirations to being one of the world’s best to live in, a group of councillors tried last year to cut the required Homestar rating for developments of 5-plus units from 6 to 4.

The objectives of the rating tool are to improve performance and reduce the environmental impact, making homes warm, healthy & comfortable. For the Wynyard Quarter’s first residential precinct on the Auckland waterfront, Willis Bond & Co Ltd has won the tender proposing a Homestar rating of 7.

Mark McGuinness.

Mark McGuinness.

Managing director Mark McGuinness said in an exclusive interview on Thursday: “We want the product that stays the test of time. To get that you need quality workmanship, product integrity & pricing. We’re certainly not the cheapest, and I don’t think we will ever be. [But] you don’t have to surrender quality to get a more affordable price point.”

What those price points will be, he hasn’t said yet. I use price as an indicator of value; he uses a wealth of factors incorporated in design to achieve a price point. The first stage of the Wynyard Quarter development will go on the market at the end of the year, when pricing will be known; prospective buyers can register their interest on the company’s website in the meantime.

Willis Bond has demonstrated harbour-edge expertise with Clyde Quay in Wellington and, in December, won the tender to develop the 4.7ha Sunderland A precinct at Hobsonville Point, where the owner, Housing NZ Ltd, has been notable for demanding high quality as a standard.

At Hobsonville, Willis Bond will develop 210 houses over 4 years. In the Wynyard Quarter it will develop up to 600 homes over 8-10 years.

As with Housing NZ at Hobsonville, Auckland Council-owned Waterfront Auckland is fussy about developing to high standards. Chief executive John Dalzell said when the tender result was announced on Thursday: “The quality of Willis Bond’s design & development process and its strong track record made it a clearcut choice. We want to do things differently with this next stage of development in the Wynyard Quarter – to create a new residential community which is a model of medium-density development demonstrating the highest standards of design & amenity.

“We have selected a developer who is willing to embrace the design & high sustainability standards we have set. Willis Bond got that from the start with an outstanding bid and a professional & enthusiastic approach since, which indicates they’re committed to our aspirations in a diverse range of residential units.”

The appointment followed an 18-month competitive tender process which Waterfront Auckland led as landowner & masterplanner, drawing 20 proposals from local & overseas parties.

Willis Bond’s ensemble is all New Zealand: 3 of the country’s best architectural practices – Architectus, Athfield Architects Ltd and Studio Pacific Architecture; sustainability consultants eCubed Building Workshop Ltd; building partners LT McGuinness Ltd and Haydn & Rollett Ltd.

The Clyde Quay Wharf development team has worked together on a number of urban developments in Wellington, including the Odlins Building (now the NZX Centre), the Free Ambulance Building and Mac’s Brewery on the waterfront, and the Chews Lane precinct in the Wellington cbd.

Among the ideas to come from Clyde Quay was the parking arrangement – all parking leases owned by the body corporate instead of the individual apartment owners, which will keep the ratio down to 1.2 cars/unit, helping the long-held council policy of reversing Auckland’s usual private:public vehicle ratios in this quarter.

An artist’s impression of the units facing Daldy St.

An artist’s impression of the units facing Daldy St.

Waterfront Auckland has the intention of creating an urban village in the Wynyard Quarter, business centred on the innovation precinct plus boutique commercial spaces in the new residential areas. All up, there will be 48,000m² of commercial space, including hospitality outlets, to give the area the life that other Auckland waterfront apartment developments lack.

One thing about this development distinguishing it from the first of those waterfront developments, Princes Wharf, is that the Wynyard Quarter precinct is on the way to somewhere – it sits between the route from the Viaduct Basin, Viaduct Events Centre, ASB Bank & North Wharf at one end, Air NZ’s headquarters and the new Fonterra offices under construction across from Victoria Park at the other, and a 5-star hotel, new marine sector developments & public spaces to come.

Another distinguishing feature will be the laneways through the precinct, making walking a more interesting experience – indicated in the section image above.

In another comparison, this precinct will look distinctly unlike the Maritime Square office buildings along Fanshawe St, which are all 6-7 storeys, reaching the maximum height allowed there. The residential development will have 17 buildings spread over 5 sites – a waterfront site on the corner of Halsey & Madden Sts, next to the soon-to-be-constructed Auckland Theatre Co building and overlooking Viaduct Harbour; and 4 central sites between Daldy, Beaumont, Madden & Pakenham Sts, fronting the new Daldy St linear park.

Heights range from 3-10 storeys, lower at the Daldy St end then stepping up. Waterfront Auckland chief executive John Dalzell began the explanation: “When we went to the market we’d developed a reference design which included all the outcomes we were looking for. The rules are quite complex – in fact, it’s hard to build out the gfa (permitted gross floor area). Even in our reference design it was hard.

“For buildings on Daldy St, we had a configuration. Architectus flipped that on its head and created mews housing, London-style. That’s an important part of the story, getting diversity & quality.”

Mr McGuinness picked up the story: “We’re getting very different styles, mews through to pavilions – larger, timber dwellings with big decks, midrise, 4-5 storeys, to a more conventional steel & glass apartment block which is about 10 storeys. So you’re using different materials, different architects, and it has a feeling a lot more like a neighbourhood than a monochromatic look.”

And Mr Dalzell again: “The interesting thing, when we’d seen a lot of different designs [Mr McGuinness had visited numerous cities overseas for ideas], was: How do you take all you’ve seen and apply it to here, unique to us, and it’s authentic? The overall response [to the Willis Bond proposal] from the Waterfront Auckland board was, it didn’t remind you of one particular design. There were elements, brought together in a way that uniquely responded to the site.”

And Mr McGuinness: “It’s one thing for a building to look good, but this is designed for solar access, that’s not a big austere block, that’s approachable scale, and the linear park complements what we’re doing there really well. You’ve got the park, then stepping to buildings up to 3-4 storeys, and through to the highrise that delivers solar access right through.

“There are little lawn areas, a lot of the apartments are double-sided [as they are on Clyde Quay], sizes are a real mix, the first quarter of them being 3 bedrooms-plus. They’re designed for different family sizings, different age groups.

“We get involved with apartments getting sold. We’re designing these apartments for modularity, so effectively we can do a bit of bespoke designing without being inefficient.”

Ground leases, and different ground leases

The last issue, which has become a major concern for Auckland residential investors, is that the land is leasehold. The 21-year renewals through some of Auckland’s leafier suburbs are a predictable problem, not helped by the sharp escalation in freehold property values in the lead-up to the last 2 major lease renewal periods.

The 29 Quay Park leases started with a long rent holiday and came up for their first ground-lease renewal in 2011. In addition, many apartment buyers found they were stuck in a sandwich, with a developer’s lease in the middle.

At the Viaduct, Tramco led the sharp escalation in ground leases. Over at the Beaumont Quarter, where ground leases were going to head the same way, a buyout & freehold purchase offer resolved the problem.

Waterfront Auckland has been innovative in the Wynyard Quarter, but I don’t know all the intricacies of that. ASB Bank building owner Kiwi Income Property Trust entered into a conditional ground lease agreement in 2010 for an initial 90-year term with one upfront payment of $15.9 million, payable on completion of the development, and an option to renew for a further 30 years.

Willis Bond’s deal is for a 125-year ground lease, also prepaid and the same as Clyde Quay. Mr McGuinness said: “It’s the nearest thing to freehold you can get.”

The driving force behind the McGuinness thinking is a sustainable future, pursued by a diverse group of graduates, academics & professionals through the McGuinness Institute, which he & wife Wendy founded.

It’s “a non-partisan think tank working for the public good, contributing strategic foresight through evidence-based research & policy analysis… We have developed a way of working together to produce reports, papers & background information that we hope will inform, support & inspire other New Zealanders.”

Links: Willis Bond
Clyde Quay Wharf
The McGuinness Institute
Athfield Architects
Studio Pacific Architecture

Attribution: Company, designer & institute websites, Waterfront Auckland & Willis Bond releases, interview.

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Self-help calculator aimed at helping green ratings

The Green Building Council and the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority launched a new online tool as part of the NabersNZ programme last week.

Project manager Mike Frew said the new calculator would allow building owners & tenants to get a clearer picture of what they need to do to get a desired star rating under the voluntary rating system programme.

Nabers (National Australian built environment rating system) has been used for more than 10 years in Australia, where it rates water, waste & indoor environment quality and energy.

Nabers & NabersNZ are owned by the New South Wales Office of Environment & Heritage, which licences the New Zealand operation to the Energy Efficiency & Conservation Authority. The Green Building Council administers it.

Link: Self-assessment tool

Attribution: GBC & EECA release.

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NZ research backs up international business case for green building

New Zealand research has backed up an international study showing that green building doesn’t have to cost more than conventional construction.

World Green Building Council chief executive Jane Henley.

World Green Building Council chief executive Jane Henley.

World Green Building Council chief executive Jane Henley – previously in the same role at the NZ Green Building Council – told an Auckland audience on Thursday green buildings were delivering a clear financial return to owners, developers & tenants, and ‘brown discounts’ were starting to emerge in some cities.

“As business tenants see the financial opportunity and start  viewing ‘space’ as a service rather than an expense, they’ll  start demanding green leases, which will drive improvement in New Zealand construction. For the design & construction industry, this will mean working in closer partnerships, earlier, to deliver higher-performing buildings.”

Ms Henley said global evidence clearly proved green construction didn’t need to cost more: “Where there is a cost premium, energy & other savings typically more than make up for that within a reasonable payback period.”

The World Green Building Council’s comprehensive report, The business case for green building, has coincided with the release of New Zealand research looking at the costs of 17 green buildings around the country, showing they don’t systematically cost more to construct than conventional buildings, and some cost as much as a third less.

Ms Henley said the key findings of the world council’s business case included:

  • There’s a big gap between actual & perceived cost of green buildings: The cost premium for most certified green buildings is 0-4%, but they’re perceived by industry to be up to 29% more expensive to build
  • Building green often costs less than conventional buildings, particularly when cost & environmental factors are considered at the beginning of the process
  • Sustainable buildings cost less to run, including energy, water use & maintenance. This generally makes up for any cost premiums during design & construction
  • ‘Green’ buildings have a marked effect on productivity: Improved lighting, ventilation & views of the outdoors have been proven to boost employee productivity by 11-23%, benefiting business performance & profitability
  • Green buildings deliver better returns: Research shows higher sale prices, higher occupancy and, in markets where green building is mainstream, ‘brown discounts’ are emerging for non-green buildings.

She said the costs of green building were trending downwards as the industry matured: “Sustainable buildings make business sense. Our business case synthesises all the credible global evidence into one collective resource, and the evidence is clear. From risk mitigation across a building portfolio & citywide economic benefits, to the improved health & well-being of occupants, the business case will continue to evolve as markets mature. We’re seeing momentum grow. Green buildings have become the status quo in many cities.”

Backing up the international research, a study by 2 New Zealand researchers has also been published in the international journal Building Research & Information. Authors Michael Rehm, from Auckland University’s School of Business & Economics, and Rochelle Ade, from Ade Consultants Ltd, compared the construction costs of 17 green star office buildings with the cost of conventional buildings. They found 7 of the group cost less than a conventional build and that, overall, there was no systematic difference in capital cost.

The NZ Green Building Council’s chief executive, Alex Cutler, said it was immensely useful to have New Zealand research that backed up international findings: “Our sustainable building industry has matured. New Zealand has skilled practitioners who are delivering healthier, more efficient buildings for no more than a conventional build.

“Cost is frequently cited as the biggest barrier to green building, but that will shift as businesses understand there are firm financial gains to be made, alongside the health & environmental benefits.”

Attribution: Green Building Council release.

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