​Exponential in a decade: How buildings in Aotearoa are going Green Star

05 March 2019

More new builds and renovations are proving their green credentials as owners recognise that an environmentally sound building is better for occupants, the neighbourhood and the planet. And, the only way to provide certainty that a Green Building is delivered is to certify. That’s clear in new figures which show the square meterage of Green Star certified buildings has increased exponentially in a decade.

Back in the period from October 2007 to October 2008, there were seven Green Star projects completed and certified for a total area of 64 665 square metres. Turn the clock forward ten years and between February 2018 to February this year, some 13 projects totalling 118 717 square metres have successfully achieved a Green Star certification.

That’s not all: the accelerating pace of registrations and certifications for Green Star leads us to an exciting announcement: New Zealand now has more than one million square metres of certified green building space.

“Quite simply, this means our country now has better buildings not only for homes and offices but a plethora of other building types,” says our Chief Executive Andrew Eagles.

Green Star verifies multiple factors including minimal environmental impact in the design, construction, and operation of buildings, fitouts, and communities. The certification also accounts for resource utilisation, tracking and verifying factors such as energy, water and materials consumption, assessing indoor environment quality, and transport, land use and ecology. Finally, building management, emissions and innovation are also scored.

Green Star rated buildings tend to offer reduced operational costs through closer management of resources, and have been shown to provide happier, healthier places for people to live and work. “Green certified buildings are a big step towards resilience against changing climate,” notes Andrew.

Not only has the square meterage of certified buildings seen a dramatic increase, but the type of projects being certified has diversified broadly. This, says Andrew, is indicative of wider commitment from the owners of new and existing buildings, and recognition of the value of a Green Star certified premises.

“And I think the sector is starting to hear the message that any new or existing building can participate in a Green Star rating; even buildings which aren’t yet and never were designed for environmental responsibility can be put through the assessment, providing a baseline against which green initiatives can be introduced,” he adds.

Some of the more recent standout projects include:

New buildings

  • Turanga: Christchurch’s new central library features a cafe, a 200-seat community arena, robotic caddies, a 7m-long interactive touchscreen wall. activity rooms, a video-editing suite, facilities for crafts, 3D printing, an exhibition space, study spaces, meeting rooms, a large children’s play area. The building is targeting a Green Star rating.
  • Awly Building Christchurch (287-293 Durham Street): The first building in post-earthquake Christchurch to achieve a 5 Green Star rating, the Awly Building also has a 4-Star NABERSNZ base-build rating. This initial rating is considered a benchmark against which to act further, with the goal of making the Awly Building as energy efficient as possible. A 6 star rating, therefore, is the ultimate target for the building owners.

Existing buildings

  • Mason Bros: An adaptive reuse of a character warehouse space into a three-storey commercial development as part of the Wynyard Quarter Innovation Precinct. The Mason Bros building is the first to achieve a 6 Green Star rating, the highest possible, and after rerating also achieved a 5.5 Star NABERSNZ energy efficiency rating.
  • Auckland Council, 135 Albert Street: The flagship building in New Zealand’s biggest city proudly carries a 6 Green Star rating, the highest possible.
  • Additionally, more than 20 existing buildings across four large property portfolios covering industrial, community, retail and office assets have chosen to undertake the Green Star Performance rating. This will enable these building owners to measure and continually improve their buildings' operational impacts.

Fitouts

  • BNZ, 80 Queen Street Auckland: The bank achieved a 5 Green Star rating for Office Interiors. BNZ reused or recycled 97% of construction and demolition waste, exceeding Green Star benchmarks. The building offers flexible workspaces, and shared collaboration spaces with natural light and external views.

In addition to these stand-out projects, Andrew draws attention to an increase in interest from the health sector in Green Star certification, notably the District Health Boards including Taranaki DHB. “Health facilities have round-the-clock electricity demands and extensive water use. Applying green principles therefore can improve the cost base, provide a better work environment and become an improved location for patients to heal,” he says.

The overall increase in Green Star certified buildings has multiple benefits. There is reduced construction waste to landfill, improved resource utilisation, lowered emissions and, potentially, hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings owing to lowered operating costs.

Achieving a certification is easier than ever with the availability of the Green Star Design and As Built tool. This enables the Green Building Council to rate all types of buildings and supersedes previously used Green Star Custom tools.

www.nzgbc.org.nz/GreenStar

Image: Awly Building Christchurch (287-293 Durham Street)