Behind the green door
Total Property - Issue 3 2017
There’s no question they save water, energy, waste and emissions, but proving green buildings also save money is challenging. It's been 10 years since the New Zealand Green Building Council introduced green building ratings to the commercial property market. Incorporating sustainability and energy efficiency into commercial building development is now standard business practice but the question remains: are buildings that are good for workers and the environment also good for the bottom line?
The results of a new Bayleys survey would suggest they are. The Bayleys survey, produced in conjunction with the New Zealand Green Building Council, gauged the views of owners, occupiers and other key stakeholders on the short- and long-term benefits of green building features and design.
Encouragingly, the survey results strongly support the continued push towards making the built environment greener. Rating tools, such as Green Star and NABERSNZ, were seen as important drivers in this process, providing checks on building quality and ensuring sustainability criteria are met.
According to the survey, the majority of office occupiers (48 percent) believe that a building's Green Star rating would be an important factor when making their next move. Eighty-six percent of respondents felt retro-fitting older buildings to improve energy efficiency was a good idea, even though most (54 percent) did not link these improvements to potential savings in operational expenditure.
Opinions varied regarding the benefits of occupying a green building. Most respondents (69 percent) thought it would help them to attract and retain better calibre staff. Sixty-one percent said it would reduce staff sick days while 43 percent thought it would encourage better engagement between staff members. Just over a third of those surveyed (35 percent) thought green buildings would increase staff output.
Bayleys also surveyed members of the New Zealand Green Building Council, including listed property vehicles, developers, architects and construction companies. The majority of members (32 percent) felt that the most important shift in New Zealand’s built environment over the next decade would be an increased focus on building performance and whole of life costs, with only 14 percent saying it would be an increased focus on upgrading existing building stock.
Most members (30 percent) believed that innovations in design would have the biggest impact on future New Zealand buildings compared to 18 percent who felt the most influential factor would be availability of land for development.
Forty-five percent of members stated that the health and well-being of occupants were the most important aspects of a sustainable building, while 39 percent believed it was whole of life costs. Thirty-four percent said lower energy consumption was more important. The key barrier to improving building quality was seen as a focus on costs rather than benefits (cited by 48 percent of members). This finding will have significance for New Zealand, where the adoption of green building standards has been market-led rather than regulation driven as in Australia and Britain.
New Zealand Green Building Council chief executive Andrew Eagles says the visionaries behind New Zealand’s Green Star-rated buildings are influencing the rest of the industry. “The construction sector is enjoying a boom at the moment. It’s exciting that so many companies are working with us to ensure the buildings and homes they’re delivering and managing will create a legacy of quality, productive places for New Zealanders for years to come. The benchmarks for building performance will continue to rise and those who are not planning to meet them risk losing market edge,” he says.
The New Zealand Green Building Council offers 4 to 6 Green star ratings under three categories - “design”, “built” and “interior” - but it plans to streamline the process and phase out “design” certifications, focusing instead on “built” and “interior’ certifications.
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