Update from Alex: Building quality now more essential than ever

28 July 2016

This week saw the Independent Hearings Panel publicly release their Unitary Plan recommendations to Auckland Council, with few surprises on the sustainable design front. The recommended removal of Homestar has been on our radar, but the million-dollar question will be whether Council decides to ignore the recommendation or not.

The obvious benefits in terms of optimal quality homes, that are warmer, drier and cheaper to run, are hard to resist – and somewhat counter-intuitive in the face of Auckland’s housing crisis. It’s vital that the Panel’s targeted 400,000 new homes over 30 years are of a better quality than just meeting Building Code. If new homes already targeting a 6 Homestar rating (as of yesterday, approximately 4000 in Special Housing Areas alone) tick the box on affordability and better health outcomes for NZ Inc, surely it makes sense to keep going?

During any change to the status quo, there’s always a little pain – but it’s now ‘reap the reward’ time for developers and builders who were smart enough to get on board quick. Overseas evidence suggests that once a new way of doing things has been adopted, there isn’t extra cost and there can be extra sales premium – it's only a matter of time before this is proven in New Zealand. My guess is that those who have invested in acquiring the new skills, will capitalise on the marketing value of their investment.

If you’re interested in more on residential topics, Robyn Phipps is speaking at The Green Room in Wellington on the subject of health in homes, and Zane Raphael will discuss his 9 Homestar renovation at The Green Room in Auckland.

Christchurch is also buzzing this month, with three exciting projects: the public launch of the Vodafone building and its 5 Green Star Design rating; another in the same precinct very close to a Green Star rating; and the first-ever whole building NABERSNZ rating achieved by IAG/Goodman (more on this at The Green Room Christchurch later in August). The value in closing the life-cycle loop (design/construct/operate) and confirming it with third-party certification is high, particularly when there’s a ‘wall’ of international capital looking to find a certified green home. Also at the Auckland Green Room, Kathryn Tapley from ANZ’s Sustainable Finance Solutions will tell us about their AU$600m Green Property & Renewables Bond, launched last year, and the opportunities in the green bond market, overseas and potentially in New Zealand.

Interest in how we monetise the value of ‘green’ continues to grow. Those who adapt now will have a market-leading edge.

Warm regards, Alex