Green star guides stakeholders

5:00 AM Wednesday May 17, 2017 True Commercial

The building at centre, 143 Lambton Quay, Wellington, is an energy-efficient Green Star-rated design. Photo / Supplied

Green Star-rated buildings help companies attract high-calibre staff and reduce worker sick days, states a new survey of Kiwi businesses carried out by Bayleys Real Estate, in conjunction with the New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC).

The survey, which gauged the views of owners, occupiers and other key stakeholders on the short and long-term benefits of green buildings, is published in Bayleys’ latest Total Property magazine and suggest buildings that are good for workers and the environment are also good for the bottom line.

“There’s no question they save water, energy, waste and emissions, but proving the green buildings also save money is challenging,” says Lloyd Budd, Bayleys’ director commercial, retail and operations.

“Encouragingly, the results of the Bayleys’ survey strongly support the continued push towards making the built environment greener. Rating tools, such as Green Star and NABERSNZ [National Australian Built Environment Rating System NZ] are important drivers in this process, providing checks on building quality and ensuring sustainability criteria are met.”

NZGBC chief executive Andrew Eagles says it’s been 10 years since the council introduced green building ratings to the commercial property market. “Incorporating sustainability and energy efficiency into commercial building development is now standard business practice both with built and interiors ratings,” he says.

According to the survey, nearly 50 per cent of office occupiers believe that a building’s Green Star rating would be an important factor when making their next move. Eighty-six per cent of respondents felt retro-fitting older buildings to improve energy efficiency was a good idea, even though most (54 per cent), did not link these improvements to potential savings in operational expenditure.

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The ASB’s building on the Auckland waterfront aachieved an NZGBC Five Star Green Star rating for office design. Photo / Supplied

Opinions vary regarding the benefits of occupying a green building. Most respondents (69 per cent) thought it would help them to attract and retain better calibre staff. Sixty-one percent said it would reduce staff sick days while 43 per cent thought it would encourage better engagement between staff members. Just over a third of those surveyed (35 per cent) thought green buildings would increase staff output.

Bayleys also surveyed members of the NZGBC, including listed property vehicles, developers, architects and construction companies. Most members 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.

Forty-five per cent of respondents stated that the health and well-being of occupants were the most important aspects of a sustainable building, while 39 per cent believed it was whole life costs.

Thirty-four per cent said lower energy consumptions were more important.

Budd says the survey results were heartening, with a Five Green Star rating, signifying “New Zealand excellence” as the norm for new large office buildings and some state-of-the-art warehouse and commercial buildings.

Across New Zealand there are currently 20 “built”, 51 “design” and 12 “interior” rated office buildings, with most located in Auckland (57 percent). Wellington has 19 per cent, Christchurch 13 per cent and the rest of the country a further 11 per cent.

In Auckland, almost half the green rated office buildings are in the CBD and the other half spread across the broader metro area. The nine CBD “built” rated buildings total 132,000sq m and represent around 10 per cent of total CBD Stock (and 22 per cent of prime grade stock).

Auckland CBD is in a new development cycle with five office projects totalling around 80,000sq m under construction.

To date, four out of five projects have been registered for either Green “design” and/or “built” rating status. Unlike the previous construction cycle where a construction cost premium was attached to green features, this has all but disappeared as environmental features increasingly become standard.

Budd says Auckland is definitely tracking in the right direction “but it still has some way to go when compared to other leading Pacific Rim cities. This could, in part, be due to differences in the timing and scale of development cycles”.

The latest building to receive a Five Green Star is Bayleys House at 30 Gaunt St, Auckland part of Goodman Group’s VXV office precinct at the gateway to the Wynyard Quarter.

The building, which houses Bayleys’ head office and central Auckland staff, includes sustainability features such as a high-performance double-glazed facade to maximise natural light and balance thermal comfort; a detailed energy monitoring system; rainwater storage; LED office lighting; and low-flow water fittings.

An increasing number of organisations are using green-rated workplaces to secure competitive advantage and attract staff as competition for talented employees heats up.

“Creating a great, healthy and environmentally responsible working environment — and saving money on energy usage, too. It’s a no brainer,” Budd says.

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Lloyd Budd, Bayleys.