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Enviro’ rating tick for luxury apartment development

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Vertical garden wall earns enviro’ rating tick for luxury apartment development

A trio of five-storey high vertical walls featuring specially-grown vegetation have earned an Auckland apartment development the first recognition of its type by New Zealand’s building environmental ratings agency.

The St Marks residential complex in the Auckland city-fringe suburb of Remuera is a four-tower mixed-use apartment and commercial development which will eventually see the construction of some 58 dwellings. Only seven apartments within the development remain for sale.

One of the key selling points for many of the apartments has been their views of New Zealand’s tallest exterior ‘green wall’ – a concrete slab backed structure with hundreds of small plants grown on into panels containing more than 1500 predominantly native New Zealand vines, shrubs and epiphytes.

Landscape design and build company Natural Habitats will undertake the ‘green wall’ installations – which reach some 17 metres high and create 125 square metres of horticultural vista.

Now the inner-city forest habitat has been recognised by the New Zealand Green Building Council – which has awarded the St Marks project the first ever acknowledgement in the ‘Innovation’ category of its Homestar Design rating system.

Before St Marks, constructions throughout New Zealand had only received commendations for the building sustainability, heating, water, and power consumption efficiencies, access to public transport and social amenities, and recycling initiatives.

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Natural Habitats landscape architect Mel Robinson said St Marks’ green walls not only enhanced the visual appeal of apartments which looked onto the structures, but also created positive ecological benefits.

“The additional bio-diversity provided from the flora growing in these panels will see bees and birds attracted to the structures, while simultaneously producing oxygen, and absorbing particulate matter and contaminants such as carbon-dioxide,” Ms Robinson said.

“The green walls will also contribute to reducing ‘heat island effect’, forming green cladding that will protect the building from temperature fluctuations and ultra-violet light radiation.”

“These beneficial factors were acknowledged when the Green Building Council awarded the St Marks/Natural Habitats project the first ever Innovation Point in the history of Homestar Design ratings.”

The three-wing St Marks residential complex is being built by Auckland surgeon and property investor Dr John Harman who has owned the site for 28 years.
Initial groundwork on the high-end residential precinct began last year when two levels of underground car-parking were excavated. Completion of the project is due in August-2018.

Dr Harman said the rationale behind the green walls installation was to ensure all apartments - no matter which compass point they faced within the St Marks enclave - had a view of suburban Auckland, across the Waitemata Harbour, or onto the natural flora landscape.

“Rather than looking out at glass and concrete edifices as some apartment developments in Auckland do, the units facing toward the green walls will enjoy an ever-changing vista of colour and fauna” Dr Harman said.

Dr Harman expected the six and seven-star New Zealand Green Building Council ratings would assist in attracting buyers for the seven remaining units within the St Marks development.

The last remaining unsold units range in price from $2,035,000 for a two-bedroom apartment, through to six three-bedroom dwellings priced between $2.2 - $2.49 million.

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