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Strong support for new home quality verification tool

The New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC) is making it easier for the construction sector to lift and verify the performance of new homes.

Last month it launched the biggest update and overhaul to the Homestar standard — Homestar v4 — since it was first introduced in 2010.

Homestar is an independent rating tool that certifies the health, efficiency and sustainability of New Zealand homes.

With extensive industry consultation, NZGBC has re-engineered the tool to align with the needs of those building apartments or homes at volume.

Dr Rhys Jones represents OraTaiao, an organisation of health professionals calling for healthy climate action.

“Housing is one of the major ‘win-win’ areas for climate and health in New Zealand. Low quality housing is a significant cause of poor health, particularly in our most disadvantaged communities, and addressing this can have huge environmental benefits,” Dr Jones says.

“OraTaiao therefore supports measures such as Homestar that ensure homes are built with better insulation, ventilation and energy efficiency. This will be great for health and for the low carbon future that New Zealand needs,” he says.

Katja Lietz, general manager masterplanning and placemaking at HLC NZ (formerly Hobsonville Land Company) welcomes the new standard.

HLC manages the development of integrated urban communities, and is developing the Hobsonville Air Force base into a new township.

“In 2016, HLC was tasked with helping the New Zealand Government provide more homes more quickly to growth areas, particularly Auckland,” Ms Lietz says.

“With this new standard we can assure our customers of quality homes without an onerous overhead.”

Panuku Development Auckland, the council-controlled organisation responsible for urban regeneration, has supported the review and re-launch of Homestar.

As well as requiring Homestar at Wynyard Quarter, Panuku is planning to require it in other locations with a social housing component as it sets out to deliver 9750 homes in and around Auckland in the coming decade.

Chief executive Roger MacDonald says Panuku is supporting this tool. “We believe it is necessary for the New Zealand housing market, and by simplifying the tool considerably, NZGBC is making it possible for sustainable healthy homes to become the norm, not the exception.”

The Tamaki Regeneration Company (TRC) is overseeing the construction of around 7500 new homes over the next 10 to 15 years, a significant number of which will be allocated to social housing.

TRC assets and development general manager Tracey Wadsworth says communities reap the benefits when affordable, healthy and sustainable housing is built.

“They thrive because we have happier families, lower rates of sickness, and homes that are more economical to maintain. Homestar is a way for us to ensure that the social houses are of quality design and built to high standards,” Ms Wadsworth says.

NZGBC chief executive Andrew Eagles explains that six months were spent consulting with the sector, including a national tour, survey, scoping paper, webinars, advisory groups and key sector meetings.

That has resulted in a revised rating tool that is simple to use, quick to run, and cost-effective to implement, accelerating delivery of better quality homes.

“With the pressures on the construction industry to meet a substantial and growing housing backlog, we’ve delivered a standard which retains its rigour, yet significantly eases compliance overhead,” he says.

The tool is completely re-engineered to align with the needs of volume builders, providing for volume certification, with more practical evidence requirements, and a removal of the requirement for slab edge insulation in Auckland, Coromandel or Northland.

When developers use Homestar, new home buyers have absolute confidence that their investment is sound and their family will be kept healthy.

“By listening to the market we’ve made it more economical to drive momentum with a concrete, streamlined methodology which helps accelerate the delivery of quality housing stock,” Mr Eagles says.

“The revised tool provides a clear framework for constructing a quality home that contributes positively to the health and well-being of its occupants.”

 

Homestar v4 — how it benefits new builds

 

• Homestar v4 addresses warmth, insufficiently provided for in The New Zealand Building Code, The International Energy Agency notes in its Energy Policies of IEA Countries 2017 Review. “The New Zealand Building Code is below the standards required in most other IEA countries with comparable climates.”

• Where Homestar v4 is applied to a new build, New Zealanders individually and collectively benefit. Over the course of five years, a 6 Homestar rated household will save $5000, and an eight-star, $10,000. Carbon emissions will be 1900kg and 6000kg lower respectively.

• Projects can register under either v3 or v4 until the end of September, at which point NZGBC rolls over exclusively to v4.

• The launch of Homestar v4 has attracted support from the supply chain, including Green Gorilla, Pink Batts, Viridian, Panuku Development Auckland, Marmoleum, Resene, Carters, Auckland Council, Watercare and Housing New Zealand.

NZGBC and representatives from the Resource Managers Lawyers Association are currently touring the country, introducing Homestar v4, and setting out how councils are incentivising the building of better buildings and homes.

Cities on the tour are Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown. For a full programme and speaker information, visit www.nzgbc.org.nz/events/upcoming-events.

 

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