Innovation takes centre stage in updated Green Star rating tool

31 July 2015

Please go through to this link to read the Chief Executive's update

Social and financial innovations in commercial building will now be recognised alongside environmental initiatives in the updated Green Star v3 rating tool, launched last night in Auckland.

Green Star is an independent rating system that assesses commercial buildings’ sustainability attributes across a range of criteria, at both Design and Built stage, and is certified by the New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC).

For more than seven years, Green Star has been successfully influencing and improving New Zealand’s commercial built environment. As with every building rating system, it’s important to refresh the tool to ensure Green Star is up to date and meeting industry needs. While there have been incremental tweaks, this is the first major review of Green Star since 2009. Over the past few months, NZGBC’s technical team has been working alongside industry to review four key categories: Innovation, Energy, Water and Materials.

In particular, NZGBC has made the Innovation category of the tool more flexible. As well as acknowledging a project’s significant environmental achievements, the category now covers broader sustainable development principles – it will highlight and reward key industry shifts, such as designing for resilience, preserving culture and heritage, and financial transparency around measurable costs and benefits.

NZGBC CEO Alex Cutler says the council is introducing new Innovation Challenges, which recognise initiatives that don’t currently fit in to Green Star, but that the council believes are important to encourage and recognise.

“We aim to reward project teams that put special effort into doing innovative research and sharing it with the market, and celebrate buildings that truly benefit the community,” says Ms Cutler. “The updated Innovation category meets the market’s need for flexibility in recognising original and visionary aspects of a project. It also challenges the design and construction sectors to develop more inspiring solutions with sustainable outcomes.”

NZGBC has introduced eight initial Innovation Challenges:

  • Adaptation and Resilience
  • Contractor Education
  • Culture, Heritage and Identity
  • Financial Transparency
  • Market Intelligence and Research
  • Marketing Excellence
  • Material Life Cycle Impacts
  • Social Return on Investment.

Project teams can now propose Innovation Challenges relating to sustainability issues they would like to address. The number of points available in the Innovation category has doubled, and project teams can also gain recognition using a credit from another World Green Building Council member rating tool (subject to NZGBC approval).

Updates to other key categories are as follows:

  • Materials: This category is adapting to the big changes expected in this space over the next few years, particularly as Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) comes within reach of more project teams. The changes will bring more consistency to how NZGBC assesses materials, and more flexibility is now offered within the Timber, Concrete and Steel credits. NZGBC has also created a Materials calculator to simplify the documentation needed to target these points.
  • Energy: The link with NABERSNZ requirements is now more explicit, enabling easy ratings of buildings and office fit-outs. The Peak Energy Demand credit has been revised so it’s more attainable, resulting in a positive contribution to the management of New Zealand’s electricity grid.
  • Water: NZGBC has introduced a new credit for Potable Water that consolidates previous credits, making it easier and faster to use. A new Water credit recognises a wider range of water efficiency strategies, and there’s clearer guidance on water metering.

NZGBC has also streamlined documentation for the reviewed credits, clarified expectations for submission, and produced resources to help project teams achieve Innovation points.

“There has been low achievement in some Innovation credits because projects didn’t address all the criteria, or because more explanation was needed on how to achieve the credits. We’re reducing the risk and cost involved by providing more information and making the process more collaborative,” says Ms Cutler.

“Green Star v3 consolidates the smaller improvements we’ve made to the tool since 2009, and offers flexibility to move with the market and aid future reviews. Green Star now acknowledges a broader range of ways to demonstrate sustainability, and we’re excited about how project teams will use the tool to create inspiring, world-leading sustainable buildings.”

The premium sponsors of Green Star v3 are Mansons TCLM, Jasmax, Kiwi Property and NZI. The associate sponsors of Green Star v3 are Aecom and Hawkins.