I was working in Federated Farmers in the early 1990s when the Resource Management Act was first being debated by the Government and industry – among a general worldwide trend of “going green” and living “sustainably”.
I remember thinking at the time that we were at the start of a new era – an era where environmental sustainability would come to the fore and be the touchstone by which we measured our individual and societal “footprints” on this planet of ours.
Fifteen years on and – in real terms – you would have to say not much has really changed.
For many, the “green tide” expected to flow from the passing of the RMA never really happened, and that first green wave more or less passed us by.
Well, the second green wave is certainly upon us, and this time around it will bring about some serious changes.
Why will it be more pervasive this time around? Climate change issues have started to bite internationally, no better evidenced than by our own icebergs floating past New Zealand’s southern coastline!
Consumers are starting to get the message more seriously and want to make a difference; Government policies are getting sorted – as per the requirement, for example, in the Building Act 2004 that the proposed revisions to the Building Code fully embrace sustainability; and businesses are starting to see the value for them in going green, in terms of being more efficient in what they do, and in terms of meeting consumer interest/demand.
This time around the building industry will not be immune from the second green wave.
Designers and builders will have to get better at knowing what “green building” is all about, and build buildings that are truly green, not just “green washed”.
‘Surfing the wave’
The Registered Master Builders Federation has seen the criticality of being ahead of this second green wave.
We want to be surfing the wave from the top rather than being caught in the undertow!
To that end we have made a substantial effort to get involved at ground level on a number of key initiatives this past year, including:
the formation of the Green Building Council, and working with the council on its Green Star building rating tool/scheme,
proposals from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority to develop a Home Energy Rating Assessment Scheme,
working with the Department of Building and Housing (DBH) and the Consumers Institute on a “smart build” suite of additions to the ConsumerBuild web site,
participating in some early work led by the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development for the DBH on the changes needed to the Building Code to embrace the new sustainability requirement,
working with Beacon Pathways around its NOW Home programme and how it might be progressed further, and
working with the DBH and the Government on more immediate changes to the Building Code to better achieve energy efficiency outcomes.
I have no doubt the construction industry will see some rapid and concrete changes in the next little while – and we have a role to help our members “surf the (second) green wave!”