Green Star and highly productive land: an important update

19 May 2020

Photo by Daniel Funes Fuentes on Unsplash

We’ve been grappling with some big questions recently around Green Star and highly productive land.

If homes, or other buildings, are constructed on Aotearoa’s most productive soil, land that can then no longer provide vegetables for New Zealanders, can they be called green and sustainable?

If prime agricultural land has already been zoned for development, should we be doing all we can to ensure that the buildings and communities are as healthy and green as possible, given that they’re going to be built anyway? What if buildings are already on the site?

We asked you if it was right that, in order to achieve a Green Star rating, a project cannot be sited on prime agricultural land.

Thanks to the input and expertise of many members recently, we’re happy to say we’ve come up with some answers, which we’d like to share with you.

Green Star Design & As Built and Green Star Communities both include a requirement that the land to be built on is not prime agricultural land.

The majority of responses said that the condition should be kept, but with additional criteria, and that if the land is already zoned for development and/or it is on a brownfield then it should be allowed to certify to Green Star.

The Government is preparing a National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Land (NPS-HPL) to improve the way highly productive land is managed under the Resource Management Act.

Thanks to the feedback of our members, we’ve decided the forthcoming highly productive land guidance is very likely to be used in Green Star.

From now on, we’ll replace mentions of “prime agricultural land” with “highly productive land” for consistency. And, once the final NPS-HPL Statement is issued, we’ll keep you updated.

For now, we will be using the following definition of highly productive land which is in line with recent Government discussion on the subject. Highly productive land is characterised by:

a) 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 https://lris.scinfo.org.nz/layer/48076-nzlri-land-use-capability/)

b) However, all urban zoned areas and all future urban zoned areas (i.e. zoned for development) in council district plans are excluded from the definition of Highly Productive Land.

Many thanks for your feedback, and for providing your thoughts and expertise. If you have any questions, do please, get in touch with the Green Star team.