NABERSNZ a keystone of sustainability at Wynyard Quarter

Wynyard Quarter is garnering praise locally and internationally for its foresight in sustainable urban planning. NZGBC caught up with Panuku Development Auckland CEO John Dalzell to find out how NABERSNZ, the energy rating tool for office buildings, figures in their plans.

Q. What is the vision for commercial buildings at Wynyard Quarter?

A. Our aim is for Wynyard Quarter to be a leading area of sustainable urban transformation. We have five key strategies to get there, and having high performance green buildings is one of those strategies. We’ve set out our aspirations clearly in the Wynyard Quarter Sustainability Standards - where practical, commercial buildings will achieve a Green Star rating. In terms of energy, we expect developments to take steps to ensure excellent efficiency. The way that is being practically interpreted by our development partner Precinct Properties, is to use NABERSNZ as a target.

Q. How is NABERSNZ being used to support your sustainability goals?

A. When we set the targets for Wynyard Quarter NABERSNZ didn’t exist, so it wasn’t possible for us to include them at that stage. Now it’s available we see it as the energy benchmark to hold ourselves to, and that we expect others – such as our development partners – to hold themselves to. The value of an externally verified benchmark is that it’s really clear what’s required – there’s no uncertainty. When we specify a particular NABERSNZ star rating, that drives the design - and the outcome is a building with energy efficient choices embedded from the very outset.

Q. As an owner how do intend to use NABERSNZ?

A. In addition to working with development partners, we own and operate the Lysaght Building – where we’re currently working with tenants on fine-tuning and performance. We intend to get a NABERSNZ rating for that building when sufficient data is available. In the near future, Panuku will begin development of a new commercial building at Westhaven Marina. We have developed performance leasing clauses which specify NABERSNZ as a measure for that site.

We’re also placing high expectations on ourselves – we signed a collaboration agreement with EECA (the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority) that commits us to 0.5 gigawatt hours (GwH) in energy savings by 30 June 2016, rising to 3.8 GwH by 2018. That is ambitious, and we will deploy a range of tools to help us get there.

Q. Will NABERSNZ be used as a measure in any other Panuku developments?

A. Wherever Panuku is involved in commercial development – such as our transformation areas of Onehunga and Manukau – we’ll be looking to draw on the lessons we’ve learned at Wynyard Quarter. We have found NABERSNZ to be an excellent tool to drive better sustainability outcomes, and we will certainly look at using it in other settings. It’s simple to understand, it’s accepted by industry, and it ensures better performing buildings.

Q What do you see as the advantages for tenants?

A. Quite simply, tenants in a building with a high NABERSNZ rating get a better space – in terms of how well it’s run and maintained, how comfortable it is for staff, and how much it costs in energy bills. As an on-going measure it’s very transparent and it’s an easily understood, common language for tenants and landlords.

Q. What impact do you think NABERSNZ will have on the wider market over time?

A. NABERSNZ has the potential to really drive improved performance and sustainability. The beauty of annual energy ratings is that they’re about actual performance in situ – so can be applied across the whole spectrum of the New Zealand office market, whether or not buildings are Green Star rated. It’s a relatively new system and tenants aren’t yet demanding NABERSNZ as a quality standard – but that will happen. In time, I believe it could have a very profound impact by raising tenants’ awareness of energy use in office buildings, and putting pressure on owners, developers and the industry to deliver.