New Zealand’s Most Famous Buildings to go Green

18 September 2019

Photo by Leroy de Thierry on Unsplash

Three of New Zealand’s most famous buildings – The Beehive, Parliament House, and the Parliamentary Library – are set to be greener, healthier, and more energy efficient.

The three buildings, home to the nation’s Parliament and MPs, will be embarking on a Green Star environmental performance scheme. This independent verification scheme looks at a building’s environmental impacts across a range of categories, including energy, climate change emissions, water, waste and transport.

The built environment is responsible for approximately 20 per cent of New Zealand’s carbon footprint, and emissions from the construction sector have leapt 66 per cent in a decade. Two years ago, it was revealed that Auckland Council is saving around $300,000 in energy costs every year in just one building, thanks to a green refit.

The internationally recognised Executive Wing (better known as the Beehive) was built 40 years ago, and the Parliamentary Library is the oldest of Parliament’s buildings, originally constructed in the nineteenth century.

Today’s announcement comes just days before the launch of World Green Building Week, which runs from 23 September to 29 September.

The Green Star scheme is run by the not-for-profit Green Building Council, and is a rating system for building owners to measure and continually improve a building’s environmental impacts. It can help save money through lowering utility bills, and create a healthier place for people.

Greener buildings generally have reduced operating costs, a minimal environmental footprint, and help with employee recruitment and retention. A Harvard University study revealed that green buildings can boost workers’ productivity by thousands of dollars a year, and employees in buildings with better lighting, ventilation and heat control performed over 25 percent higher in standard cognition tests.

Andrew Eagles, chief executive of the Green Building Council, said: “This is great leadership from our Parliament. Our politicians, and the hundreds of staff working in these buildings, are dealing with the big issues like climate change, so it’s absolutely right for them to lead from the front and reduce the environmental impacts of the very places in which they make key decisions.

“Parliament’s buildings are now going to be better, healthier places, and it’s likely they’ll enjoy reduced operating costs too.”

Speaker of the House, the Rt Hon Trevor Mallard says: “It’s important to me that Parliament operates in the most efficient, environmentally friendly way possible and I look forward to working with the agencies based on the parliamentary precinct to measure and improve our Green Star performance rating.”