Better communities, proven

04 February 2019

We’re social animals. We love to have a yarn. We enjoy being around other people, especially on occasions like Waitangi Day, and being part of a community. Community, and a sense of shared belonging is a foundation for a thriving society, where people can live their best lives.

Community doesn’t often happen by accident, but by design. Communities have to be well built, well designed places.

Between us, as the thousands of New Zealanders who want our buildings to be better, we have the expertise, knowledge, and passion to build communities fit for Kiwis. New Zealand needs us, together, working in collaboration for a better, greener built environment.

So let’s crack on and do it. If someone’s going to be us, it may as well be us.

And right now we have a golden opportunity to build the sustainable, flourishing communities that Kiwis deserve. In the next few years, thousands and thousands of new homes will be built. Home consents have recently hit a 14-year high. This is great because we need more homes, and we need these homes to be part of thriving communities.

Successful communities will be safe, inclusive, diverse developments, with quality homes, that improve the wellbeing of the people playing, working and living in these places. And this really matters to New Zealanders.

Leading journalist and commentator Simon Wilson recently noted that tens of thousands of homes aren’t being built to the standards of sustainability and energy efficiency that are needed. A framework to fix this already exists, he said, making the delay in raising standards ‘ridiculous’. I completely agree.

The framework Simon mentioned to raise housing standards and to build blossoming communities is Green Star Communities. This is a straightforward tool to check that our communities are quality, healthy, enjoyable places to be in, that they are economically sound, with green transport links, and are resilient to climate change.

Green Star Communities can be used on any large-scale development, and has been designed with key input from the industry. Economic prosperity, environment, liveability, governance and innovation are the key categories included.

Around 50 sites in Australia are already using Green Star Communities, including residential and commercial developments, and green field sites. Here in Aotearoa, Panuku Development Auckland has deservedly drawn international plaudits for their innovative use of the tool.

Many large scale communities are being planned right now, and there is an important discussion taking place across the nation about the standards to which these will be built. Together, we have a chance that doesn’t come around very often. We have a chance to ensure that thousands of homes, dozens of new communities, are great, healthy, green places. Places which will make us proud, and make New Zealand a healthier, even better country.

This year, we have to leap on this chance.

I hope 2019 has started well for you. If you have any ideas or suggestions about our work this year, do please take ten minutes to fill in our member survey.

And if you’d like to know more about Green Star Communities, or any of our other tools, do please drop us a line NZGBC team.

Ngā mihi o te tau hou

Andrew