A revamped 70s office block in downtown Auckland ramps up massive energy savings

26 September 2016

While a soaring state-of-the-art glass façade at Zurich House is eye catching, the building’s energy performance is the current show stealer.

The 17-storey office block, located at 21 Queen Street, has just achieved a 4 star NABERSNZ ‘excellent’ base building rating for energy performance – a score which demonstrates a massive 45 percent improvement over the past three years.

Tailor-made for commercial buildings, NABERSNZ is a government-backed independent rating tool which benchmarks energy efficiency.

Meters are installed in a new build or retrofitted to gauge energy output across a range of core services and spaces. The scheme employs a rating scale of one to six stars.

Constructed in 1975 Zurich House underwent a $75.5 million refurbishment in 2008 transforming it from the 70s genre to a highly contemporary sustainably-built structure.

It is the first refurbished building in New Zealand to attain a 5 Green Star Design and Built rating.

Its owner Precinct Properties New Zealand Ltd is a key supporter of NABERSNZ and instigated the use of the rating tool at Zurich House in 2013 to test its efficiency.

“It achieved only 1 star for its first rating which was a poor result but it provided us with insight about what could be improved and fine-tuned. It helped us better understand the building,” says Precinct Properties Operations Manager, Paul Singleton.

A raft of initiatives was implemented to boost energy performance at Zurich House including automated switch off at weekends and public holidays, a review of its mechanical commissioning and an overhaul of its building management services to enhance the functioning of lighting, plant and equipment.

In early 2015 Zurich House achieved a 3.5 star NABERSNZ base building rating – and in June 2016 a 4 star rating.

“It’s a very good result and we will continue to build on it. NABERSNZ has helped drive the building’s improvements and provided ongoing targets to work towards each subsequent year.”

He says as well as benchmarking the building’s performance, the rating tool has offered a yardstick against which the facilities management team can continually measure its performance.

Norman Disney & Young consultant engineer Ben Bentley – a qualified assessor who certified Zurich House in 2015 and 2016 - says while each office block has a different operational profile NABERSNZ allows buildings to be compared on the most even playing field possible.

He says a first NABERSNZ rating is the beginning of the journey.

“It’s a bit like developing and testing a race car. The initial design of a building is based on theoretical conditions but once it’s put to work in a dynamic environment the real development and tuning begins.”

My Bentley says modern buildings are “complex dynamic systems” which require ongoing evaluation and adjustment in order to deliver their best.

NZGBC Chief Executive Alex Cutler says NABERSNZ not only provides owners, landlords and tenants with a snapshot of their building’s energy performance but propels ongoing efficiencies.

“Zurich House is a shining example of NABERSNZ in action with huge energy savings over a three year span.”

She says “in the wider environment NABERSNZ facilitates an important conversation about the benefits of energy smart commercial buildings in Aotearoa.”

NABERSNZ is licensed to the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) and administered by the New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC).

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For more information on Zurich House and its ‘excellent’ NABERSNZ base building rating or to learn more about how a NABERSNZ rating can improve the energy performance of your building or work space www.nabersnz.govt.nz