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Christchurch developers urged to consider energy

Christchurch developers urged to consider energy at earliest stage

New commercial buildings in Christchurch must be designed for energy efficiency if they aren’t to become obsolete, the New Zealand Green Building Council said today.

NABERSNZ, which launched last year, is a scheme that rates office buildings from 1 to 6 stars based on how energy efficient they are. Minimum NABERSNZ ratings are increasingly included as a requirement in project briefs and lease agreements in Christchurch.

However, good NABERSNZ ratings will be hard to obtain if buildings don't incorporate energy efficient principles from the outset, said NZGBC Chief Executive Alex Cutler.

“NABERSNZ will become, as it is in Australia, an industry-wide benchmark for building performance. It’s great to see it being used in Christchurch to require high-performing buildings. But to achieve this, it’s important to design for energy efficiency, not try to add it in later,” she said.

“Buildings that won’t achieve a decent rating, or aren’t even set up to measure energy, risk losing value and being shunned by tenants as the market adopts this,” she said.

To obtain a NABERSNZ rating, buildings must have adequate metering to ensure energy use in different areas is measured separately. This separates tenant and landlord energy, and is particularly important in buildings with mixed use (e.g. retail and office space). Energy modelling is a good way to ensure heating and cooling is as low-energy as possible, for example by using passive solar heat and fresh air for cooling. Design should also ensure heating and cooling can be easily adapted to meet users’ needs – a key aspect of energy efficiency.

“Without thinking carefully about energy use and integrating the right measures into the design, you simply can’t guarantee excellent energy efficiency,” Ms Cutler said.

“There are skilled energy consultants operating in Christchurch and EECA’s funding for design advice is a great boost. Designers and project managers now need to make sure they’re putting principle into practice to build a CBD that’s full of buildings that can truly achieve high NABERSNZ ratings. That would be a fantastic asset for Christchurch,” she said.

An information session for industry on NABERSNZ will be held by EECA and the NZGBC in Christchurch on 13 March 2014.


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