The Homestar initiative was launched in 2010 and is an independent rating tool that certifies the health, efficiency and sustainability of New Zealand homes. A high-rating Homestar home has a heavily insulated thermal envelope for optimal energy efficiency. Excellent ventilation and moisture control are also standard.
Several years ago, the sector asked the NZGBC to create a standard for healthier, warmer homes. The NZGBC did that and two years ago, in partnership with industry, they launched a new version of Homestar – Homestar V4. The biggest update to Homestar since it was first launched almost a decade ago, Homestar V4 is now simpler, quicker and cheaper to use. It is hoped that this will increase the uptake and make Homestar more mainstream.
Andrew Eagles says the improved standards of Homestar deliver real benefits.
“The economist Shamubeel Eaqub published a report comparing the costs and benefits of building 100,000 homes to Homestar instead of the New Zealand Building Code. The report found there is an upfront cost to this, but that the private benefits outweigh the costs, and there are substantial social benefits. There is compelling evidence to move towards higher quality homes. The total benefit of building KiwiBuild to a higher standard could be a whopping $682 million. These benefits would include savings in electricity and water bills for those living in Homestar homes, and the social benefits that come through reduced climate change pollution, waste and water runoff,” says Andrew.
Andrew says some of New Zealand’s biggest developers are now demanding Homestar.
“Housing New Zealand, who are building 9,000 homes over four years, are requiring a standard of 6 Homestar or above. Panuku Development Auckland, who are building 11,000 homes over four years, and HLC, who are master planning over 30,000 homes are also requiring 6 Homestar or above. The private sector is quickly following suit as well with BUPA, Metlife Care, Oceania, Legacy Properties and Universal Homes just some of the organisations requiring 6 Homestar or above as a given. More than 30,000 homes are now being built to Homestar over the next five to seven years. We are now seeing builders and architects and others taking up training and learning the standard. Each Homestar training course is booked out,” says Andrew.
The NZGBC understands that one of the biggest arguments against building green is cost. But Andrew says this a myth and one they are working hard to bust.
“The reality is quite different. Rawlinsons, the international QS firm, found that the difference of building to 6 Homestar was 1.5% in Auckland, 2% for Wellington and 2% in Christchurch. We’ve also had these figures confirmed by a number of developers. Some people do push back. However, once they understand the standard, we see real interest and take up.”
In terms of value, there are several other arguments that lean in favour of building green. One is cheaper home loans and a reduction in living costs.
“Kiwi families that choose to build green qualify for a low interest mortgage. ANZ is offering 1% off interest rates for homes that are built to Homestar. Homestar also reduces the cost of running a home, especially in terms of energy and water savings. Over seven years homes rated 5 and 6 Homestar enjoy annual savings on energy and water bills of $573-$729 per year,” says Andrew.
Andrew will be sharing more of his insights into the affordability of building green at ADNZ’s Architectural Design Conference in Queenstown. To book your ticket visit: https://www.adnzconference.co.nz/
For more information on Homestar visit: https://www.nzgbc.org.nz/homestar