Words by: Conor Patton, Chief Auctioneer, Bayleys Real Estate.
That was the theme and the title of the 2018 New Zealand Housing Summit, hosted by the New Zealand Green Building Council. And scores of people from various industries and walks of life were there because they believed in the cause.
Amongst them were dozens of speakers from NZ and all over the world, covering all aspects of making a meaningful change in our housing landscape. From new, innovative ways of financing buyers into ownership, to the health benefits associated with better homes, to climate change and its opportunities and challenges, to the nuts and bolts around what changes are needed both in our current construction methods and our legislation.
For example, this chart below shows the R-Values, which in a nutshell measure the thermal insulation properties of the object – the higher the better. As you can see, the current NZ Building Code is below the UK requirements of 16 years ago!
I’d bet my bottom dollar though that I was not the only one to walk out with a real sense of hope and genuine excitement at the challenge in front of us, coupled though with a healthy appreciation for the scale.
What’s great is that there are more and more studies to back up what a relatively small number have known for a long time. Three years of research in Australia has found that sustainable buildings outperform their conventional counterparts in all relevant areas – environmentally, socially, and financially. They have identified the 7 top benefits from having a property with sustainability features are:
- More savings on utility bills and less maintenance
- Reduced construction
materials and emissions
- Less days on market to sell
- Improved comfort and long-term lifestyle
- Higher median price
- Higher resale value
- Informed decision making
Of course, closer to home, we are fortunate to have the New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC) to champion these truths to both government and private citizens. One way they do this is through recognition with rating tools for various types of buildings.
For residential homes, it’s the Homestar rating system. The Homestar system provides a clear framework for home sustainability and performance. It’s comprehensive, independent, and creates homes that are healthier and more efficient than much of New Zealand’s housing stock (most new homes built to the current NZ building code would only achieve a 3 or 4 on a Homestar rating scale, whereas the NZGBC only begins to recognize homes at a level 6 or above).
The benefits seem never-ending, and whether you wish to look from a ‘wellbeing’ side or from the dollars and cents, it indeed makes sense. For such a small upfront increase (one study showed a percentage increase of only 1.2% in Auckland and 0.7% increase in Christchurch to build a Homestar level 6 home versus one to the current NZ building code), the social and economic up-sides would seem to more than cover it.
Given the scale and how high the stakes are, getting the buy-in to be as wide as possible is going to be key. And we believe that the real estate industry has a big part to play in helping buyers, sellers, and developers to understand the value, both short and long term, both economically and socially, in investing toward a more sustainable future. Because it’s time for change, to make the future altogether better.
Source: Sam Archer, Director of Market Transformation, New Zealand Green Building Council