Strong support for new home quality verification tool


The biggest update and overhaul to the Homestar standard since it was first introduced in 2010 is making it easier for the building and construction sector to lift and verify the performance of new homes.

The New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC) has launched its new Homestar v4 standard, an independent rating tool that certifies the health, efficiency and sustainability of New Zealand homes.

Extensive industry consultation has helped NZGBC re-engineer the tool to align with the needs of those building apartments or homes at volume.

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.

By listening to the market, adds Eagles, adapting and simplifying, “We’ve made it more economical to drive momentum with a concrete, streamlined methodology which helps accelerate the delivery of quality housing stock.

“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 specifically 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.”

The new code has met with industry approval, including 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,” Ora Taiao’s Dr Rhys Jones maintains.

“Low quality housing is a significant cause of poor health, particularly in our most disadvantaged communities, and addressing this can have huge environmental benefits.

“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.

HLC NZ (formerly Hobsonville Land Company) General Manager Masterplanning and Placemaking Katja Lietz says HLC manages the development of integrated urban communities.

“The company is developing the Hobsonville Air Force base into a new township,” she explains.

In 2016 HLC was tasked with helping the New Zealand government provide more homes more quickly to growth areas, particularly Auckland.

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

Council-controlled organisation (COO) Panuku Development Auckland that is responsible for urban regeneration has supported the review and relaunch 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 9,750 homes in and around Auckland in the coming decade.

CEO Roger MacDonald says his organisation is supporting this tool, because it believes it is necessary for the New Zealand housing market.

“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 7,500 new homes over the next 10 – 15 years, a significant number of which will be allocated to social housing.

TRC General Manager Assets and Development Tracey Wadsworth believes 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,” she says.

“Homestar is a way for us to ensure that the social houses are of quality design and built to high standards.”

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

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 $5,000; an eight-star, $10,000, Carbon emissions will be 1,900kg and 6,000kg lower.

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

During July and August, the NZGBC and the representatives from the Resource Managers Lawyers Association are touring the country, introducing Homestar V4, setting out how councils are incentivising the building of better buildings and homes.

Cities on the tour are Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.

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