The time is now

04 August 2021

Photo by AR on Unsplash

Recent weeks have seen temperatures in western Canada soar to a record-breaking near 50 degrees Celsius. Germany has been hit by huge floods, devastating entire villages. A year’s worth of rain fell on the Chinese city of Zhengzhou, home to over 10million people. Wildfires in Turkey reached a heat intensity four times higher than the previous record. And here in Aotearoa, hundreds of New Zealanders were forced to leave their flooded homes when severe weather battered the West Coast

Too often, climate change is mistakenly seen as a distant concern – something that is far away either in time or place. But it isn’t. And for too many people it isn’t just at their doorstep. It’s not just flooding their kitchen. It’s destroyed their home. 

There is an intense urgency to act, and act now. Our sector has a key role to play in delivering a zero carbon Aotearoa. Acting together, we can lead the way to a cleaner, healthier, less polluted nation. 

And our homes have a vital part to play. The average new house in New Zealand emits five times too much carbon pollution

Working together, we’re going to fix this. And the new, revamped version of Homestar unveiled this week has been created to play a key role.  

The new version of Homestar, announced on Monday, is going to help us tackle climate change. 

All Homestar homes, under the fifth version of the green home rating, will have to use energy efficient appliances. A 6 Homestar home will have to hit mandatory energy and operational carbon targets. As you move up the star ratings to 10 Homestar the emissions reductions and energy efficiency improvements increase. 

The updated Homestar will also include an embodied carbon calculator, developed in partnership with BRANZ, helping builders to work out the levels of carbon emitted in the manufacture of the building materials. 

And the new Homestar will align with the government’s Building for Climate Change programme. This will help builders using Homestar to develop the skills and knowledge needed for upcoming changes to the Building Code. 

We’ve changed the category names for Homestar too, to better reflect a renewed focus on outcomes. Out go category names like ‘density and resource efficiency’, ‘management’, and ‘site’, and in come ‘healthy and comfortable’, ‘efficient’, ‘liveable’, and ‘environmentally responsible’, alongside the innovation category. 

The mandatory minimums have now been expanded and toughened. That’s because we want projects to target the core areas of energy and water efficiency, thermal comfort, construction waste, ventilation, moisture control, health and sustainability of materials. 

Almost 5,000 homes registered for Homestar last year, and we expect even more uptake with these improvements. The interest rate and cash back incentives banks offer for Homestar are also driving more people to ask their builders about it.

All of the improvements and updates to version five of Homestar have come about thanks to the feedback, suggestions, and expert advice from our members. The extensive consultation process – our most successful ever – was a true reminder that Homestar is owned collectively, by all of us who want homes in Aotearoa to be greener, healthier, happier places. 

We’re proud of Homestar, and we’re proud too that the new version, our most ambitious update ever, is set to help homes to be lower carbon places. If ever there was time for tackling climate change to be placed at the heart of Homestar, that time is now. 

Noho ora mai 

Andrew