The environmental performance of New Zealand’s most iconic building, the Beehive, and two of the country’s other parliamentary landmarks, will be independently verified by the NZ Green Building Council (NZGBC).
New Zealand’s Parliamentary Service, this week said the operational performance of Parliament House and the Parliamentary Library would also be rated by the council’s Green Star environmental performance scheme, introduced in 2017.
The announcement signals growing interest in improving the sustainability performance of government-owned and leased buildings, said Andrew Eagles, chief executive of the NZ Green Building Council.
The move follows a government commitment in July to mandate a NABERSNZ energy efficiency rating for all newly built government office accommodation, targeting a four-star rating.
Mr Eagles said it was exciting that the government was prioritising benchmarking as a starting point.
“Once buildings are benchmarked, they gradually improve them over time to make them more energy efficient, to use less waste, and rely on more sustainable transport,” he said.
Government support for environmental rating tools will hopefully help boost the very low numbers of NABERSNZ energy ratings for office buildings. There were only about 37 NABERSNZ energy ratings at last count in June.
Mr Eagles said the Beehive “worked pretty hard” to remain operational for politicians debating into the evenings. He said the Green Star rating would help facility managers run the building more efficiently.
The NZ government’s proposed zero carbon bill, which will create sweeping changes to the management of emissions, is expected to make it through parliament by the end of the year.
Green Star on the rise
There have been two big developments for Green Star New Zealand, said Mr Eagles.
The first was the expansion of the Green Star Design and As Built tool to any building type, with the NZGBC now rating hotels, retail and convention centres, among other buildings.
Mr Eagles said this “democratises Green Star for everybody” and has led to a 60 per cent rise in new Green Star rated projects in the past year.
Some developers are also raising the bar, such as Mansons, which is targeting a 6 star Green Star rating for Kiwibank’s Auckland headquarters.
The NZGBC is also launching a roadmap to shift its buildings to net zero carbon by 2050, and net-zero pilot certification for existing commercial buildings, as part of next week’s World Green Building Week 2019.