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2 New Zealand context

The application of sustainable building principles to larger-scale non-residential building in New Zealand is relatively recent. Much of the New Zealand experience is reflected in the case studies in Section 3.0. Apart from the value case itself, other factors that encourage sustainable building in New Zealand include:

  • the promotion of sustainability in government operations through programmes such as the Sustainable Development Programme of Action, Govt3 and EECA's EnergyWise Government programme
  • Agenda 21 and the Cities for Climate Protection programmes, to which a number of local authorities have committed themselves
  • regulation such as the Resource Management Act and the recent Building Act
  • establishment of an interim Green Building Council
  • overseas trends
  • perceived or real marketing benefits.

Internationally, government and other public bodies are increasingly asking for sustainable buildings, which are also being widely encouraged and implemented by a responsive property construction sector. This has led to increasingly sophisticated and innovative building designs and technologies that encourage both energy conservation and CO2 reduction. The future in New Zealand may lie in a hybrid approach - drawing on international experience and developing locally a range of inventive and cost-effective approaches and technologies suited to our relative isolation, benign climate, relative reliance on renewable energy, and economic agility. We are in an excellent position to become leaders in sustainable building.

2.1 Funding assistance

Up to 50% funding is available from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) for professional fees for design auditing and modelling the energy component of sustainable building design. This means the relative costs and benefits of energy-saving strategies can be more accurately assessed at the design stage. If this assessment is not done, the opportunities for energy efficient design can be lost.

Through its Crown Loan Scheme, EECA also offers full or partial funding of government and local government projects to achieve energy cost savings. Current figures show that the ongoing annual savings for projects in New Zealand funded by the scheme are almost $3.8 million a year, with reductions in CO2 emissions of almost 20,000 tonnes a year. The aim of the fund is to reduce the barriers to cost-effective energy efficiency investments (WEB 1, 2005). One of the case study buildings, Waitakere Hospital, was the first such building to use both these incentives.

The long term success of any type of funding will rely on finding ways to bridge the gap between capital investment and annual running costs.