The green stars
The workers in Green Star-rated buildings are the envy of the rest of us office workers. We know they’re fancy and new, but what does the rating really mean?
Green Star is a comprehensive, national, voluntary environmental rating scheme. This scheme evaluates the environmental attributes and performance of New Zealand’s buildings using a suite of rating tool kits developed to be applicable to each building type and function.
It is administered by The New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC), which is committed to setting standards of best practice and leadership through the development of green building rating tools, so the property industry can apply to have their projects rated according to their building type.
Green Star addresses the needs of specific building types, such as office buildings, industrial buildings and education buildings, in the design phase, and following construction, in the built phase. Currently more than 50 per cent of new and major refurbished office buildings are undertaking Green Star certification. This is mainly driven by tenant demand. With both design and built tools available for these building types, the NZGBC is next focusing on the development of a performance tool that will rate a building on the basis of its measured operational impacts on the environment.
Green Star assesses the environmental impacts that are a direct consequence of a building’s site selection, design, construction and maintenance. The Green Star framework has eight separate environmental impact categories plus an innovation category; management; indoor environment quality; energy; transport; water; materials; land use and ecology; emissions; and innovation.
The innovation category is included within the Green Star rating tools as a way of encouraging, recognising and rewarding the spread of innovative technologies, designs and processes for building applications that exceed Green Star requirements.
Credits are awarded within each of the categories based on the building’s environmental merits in a range of areas and they take into consideration the unique development requirements and impacts of each sector. Points are then weighted and an overall score is calculated, determining the project’s Green Star rating.
New Zealand Best Practice is focused on making smarter decisions regarding basic construction practices and should be achievable at no extra construction cost. New Zealand Excellence builds on these practices while including green principles and technology such as passive ventilation. World Leadership encompasses a principled green approach to the whole project from start to finish, along with including cutting-edge green technology such as on site power generation.
A Green Star certification reflects the commitment and leadership of the building owner to green building practices and environmental performance.
The NZGBC commissions at least two third-party assessors to check and validate a project’s submission and recommend a Green Star certified rating.
NZGBC then produces a final Green Star rating that appropriately recognises the achievements of the building.