Green Buildings pt3 blog

Part 3: A journey from greenwash to best practice

28 September 2015, by Dean Croucher

In Part 3 of a series of blogs on the New Zealand Green Building Council, we review the future of NZGBC and what it offers organisations, particularly tenants and owner-occupiers…

The NZGBC is 10 years old and is maturing as an organisation. While there is measurable progress as follows, there is still much to accomplish within the sector:

  • A membership of 400+
  • 118 Green Star buildings certified in NZ – 70 of these achieving 5 stars and 8 achieving 6 stars
  • The release of version 3 of Green Star, the biggest review since 2009 of what has been NZGBC’s flagship tool and brand
  • Its own 5 Green Star premises on Auckland’s Queen Street that better reflect the Council’s vision
  • A new website and CRM system, streamlining the way members and clients interact with NZGBC

Further transformation over the next three years is almost certain as the industry continues to evolve. NZGBC has undertaken a Strategic Market Review to thoroughly understand market sentiment and this is informing its approach to doing business over the next three years. Members will be given more information on these plans over the next few months.

In the meantime, nothing stands still. As well as the recent major review of the Green Star tool, NZGBC has a suite of useful resources and services that tenants, owner-occupiers and other industry participants can access to create value for their organisations. These include Green Star Innovation Challenges, Green Star Office Interiors, NABERSNZ and the Performance Leasing Guide.

Innovation Challenges

A year or so ago, GBC Australia adopted a number of innovation 'challenges' to help re-shape Australia’s Green Star. In June, we attended the workshop ‘Green Building Innovations: Insights from Australia’ led by Robin Mellon, COO of GBC Australia, expecting to be ‘wowed’ by the latest design and technical breakthroughs – shiny new toys to improve the efficiency of the buildings our clients occupy.

Rather than a big wow, the innovations Robin presented in a number of case studies were focused on what could simply be described as ‘good management practices’ – “the cumulative effect of lots of small things being done very well”. It was a pleasant and welcome surprise to find a focus on the softer aspects of green building – on improving the experience of delivery and the wellbeing of occupants and the overall experience of living in green buildings.

These Australian innovation challenges have opened the way for new approaches and greater, earlier collaboration between all stakeholders, including end users. In July, NZGBC expanded the innovation category with the launch of a set of innovation challenges relevant to New Zealand and encouraging innovation in areas beyond the current Green Star tool. 

These – along with tools like the Performance Leasing Guide below – will create a similar increase in opportunities for end users in NZ to more strongly influence the future built environments they occupy.

Green Star – Office Interiors

As well as applying to new building projects, Green Star can be used to rate office interior fitouts. This aims to improve the overall sustainability of the fitout, as well as support staff and visitors with a space that is better for health, productivity and wellbeing. The Green Star – Office Interiors tool takes account of factors that:

  • Minimise environmental impact – e.g. re-use and use of sustainably-sourced materials
  • Contribute to efficient running over time – e.g. energy and water use
  • Help to ensure the health and wellbeing of occupants – e.g. high-quality fresh air, acoustics and daylight

A Green Star-rated interior doesn’t necessarily need to be in a Green Star-rated base building, but it does help – as buildings designed and built with sustainability in mind will already have taken steps to minimise environmental impact (for example, through proximity to transport or recycling facilities).


NABERSNZ is a tool that helps tenants understand energy performance at a glance. It’s much easier now for tenants to make comparisons between premises and choose premises with lower operational costs.

The availability of this information motivates landlords of poorer-performing buildings to make improvements. That’s been the experience across the ditch where two-thirds of all office spaces in Australia are now rated under NABERS and where, over eight years of regular re-rating, the average building performance has improved by 29%.

EECA has estimated that there is an opportunity to make $200m of energy efficiencies in NZ in the commercial sector alone. Such savings will benefit NZ as a whole, but also realise substantive value to end users of high-performing buildings.

Performance Leasing Guide

The Performance Leasing Guide, launched at the end of June, is the outcome of collaboration between NZGBC, DLA Phillips and EECA. It’s designed to ensure that the promised benefits of a Green Star building become a sustainable reality. This Guide helps both tenants and owners set clear expectations about the ongoing performance of a building, not just the performance of premises at the time of occupancy.

NZGBC Chief Executive Alex Cutler says operational issues have a huge bearing on building sustainability. “How we run and maintain our buildings, and how we behave in them, is critical to workplace comfort and long-term performance. Progressive, positive relationships between tenants and landlords are crucial in improving our building stock. This Guide helps provide a framework for those discussions”.

The performance improvements available to our clients from green buildings and the adoption of green building practices are more tangible than ever. That’s down to the work of the NZGBC and its members and it’s why we believe the NZGBC has a bright future.

TwentyTwo remains committed to the Council which gives us a greater opportunity to contribute to NZGBC strategy, to improve the ongoing delivery of value to members and to further advocacy for better environmental performance of New Zealand’s buildings.


About the author

Loves anything blue. Avoids routine and making plans. Dreams of playing golf on the senior tour. Should have been a chef or writer. Fond of chardonnay and food (any kind).

Dean is one of NZ's leading property advisers with 25+ years’ consulting experience acting for major tenants and owner-occupiers. He specialises in property strategy, tenant representation, project leadership and major transactions. He also continues to provide peer review advice across all major projects.

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