Green Star - Communities

Green Star - Communities assesses the planning, design and construction of large-scale development projects including precincts, neighbourhoods and entire communities.

It helps everyone from property developers through to policy makers to assess and promote the development of sustainable communities against best practice sustainability benchmarks. 

The Green Star - Communities rating tool was originally developed by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA). In 2016, the NZGBC adapted the rating tool to suit New Zealand based projects.

It expands the NZGBC's suite of rating tools, previously from only buildings and fitouts, to now include large-scale developments. This rating tool will ensure even more New Zealanders are able to live, work and play in sustainable places.

Green Star - Communities assesses projects against a holistic set of distinct social, environmental and economic categories:

  • Governance The Governance category aims to ensure Green Star – Communities projects have a strong governance framework in place by setting benchmarks that encourage developers to operate transparently.
  • Liveability The Liveability category aims to ensure development projects are diverse, affordable, safe, inclusive and improve the wellbeing of those that live, work and play within them.
  • Economic Prosperity The Economic Prosperity category aims to ensure development projects facilitate business diversity, education, skills development and productivity
  • Environment The Environment category aims to ensure development projects are less resource intensive and prioritise practices that reduce a community’s impact on land, water and the atmosphere.
  • Innovation The Green Star Innovation category promotes holistic sustainable solutions in the built environment, and encourages projects in investing resources into valuable outcomes.

The Green Star – Communities rating tool helps both governments and development teams aiming to deliver sustainable communities around New Zealand to:

  • provide diverse, affordable, inclusive and healthy places to live, work and play
  • protect, maintain and restore the natural environment by reducing developments’ ecological footprints
  • receive recognition for demonstrated leadership and commitment to sustainability
  • achieve real value for money through demonstrated whole-of-life cost savings
  • encourage opportunities for business diversity, innovation and economic development

Projects are rated on a scale of 0-6 Stars with 4 Star considered best practice, 5 Star national excellence, and 6 Star world leadership.

For more information, please see the below links:

Interested Projects

If you're interested in creating a Green Star - Communities project the NZGBC will provide project teams with complimentary technical support throughout the certification process to ensure successful sustainability outcomes are achieved. 


Before too much time is spent on a potential project, the project team should ensure they are comfortable the project can fulfill the Eligibility requirements listed in the Green Star Submission Guidelines AND the list of New Zealand specific Sustainable Sites (credit 28) criteria found in this document

Also, additional guidance on what constitutes Prime Agricultural Land was published as a TQ and is listed below:

Both the Green Star Design and As Built and Communities tools have as a conditional requirement that the land to be built on is not Prime Agricultural Land. The Government is proposing a National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land (NPS-HPL) to improve the way highly productive land is managed under the Resource Management Act 1991 (more information here ).

In light of our recent survey and developments in central government around this issue NZGBC has decided the forthcoming Highly Productive Land guidance is very likely to be used in Green Star. From this point forward any mention of “Prime Agricultural Land” will be replaced with “Highly Productive Land.” Once the final NPS-HPL Statement is issued, if any significant modifications to this TQ is necessary, an updated TQ will be issued.

The criteria for Highly Productive Land will be:

1. The capability and versatility of the land to support primary production based on the LUC classification system (currently this will be LUC1-3 land using this website )

2. Highly Productive Land excludes all urban zoned areas and all future urban zoned areas in district plans.

Project teams are highly encouraged to ensure their site fulfill the minimal requirements in the Sustainable Sites credit prior to expending time on a project.  If there are any questions about this credit the project team is highly encouraged to contact NZGBC for clarification.

If you have any questions about the process or would like to register a project, contact the Green Star team on (09) 951 0733 or