Tag Archives | Homestar

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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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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