Zurich House

NABERSNZ has not only honed the energy performance of Zurich House in Auckland’s waterfront precinct but shown its stakeholders exactly how its green technology ticks.

Zurich House PDF [pdf 494 KB]


About Zurich House

Located at 21 Queen Street in Auckland’s commercial high rise hub opposite Britomart Transport Centre, Zurich House is a striking 17-storey office block owned and managed by Precinct Properties New Zealand Ltd.

Constructed in 1975 the building underwent a $75.5 million refurbishment between 2007 to 2009 transforming it from a hallmark 1970s office tower to a sustainably-built exemplar with a trailblazer ranking as the first refurbished building in New Zealand to attain a 5 Green Star Design and Built rating.

During its overhaul the property’s structure was strengthened, existing levels were remodelled and four new column-free floors were inserted. Over 92 percent of demolition and building waste was recycled.

Committed to creating a sustainable, healthy and resilient building Precinct Properties installed a raft of green features including:

  • a high performance double glazed full height façade (provides 360 degrees of natural lighting and views; minimises heat gain in summer, heat loss in winter; all work spaces are within six metres of floor to ceiling windows).
  •  a chilled beam air conditioning system (a cooling, heating and fresh supply-air unit providing a draft-free indoor climate).
  • low flow water fittings and rainwater harvesting.
  • LED lighting.
  • shower and changing rooms for client cyclists and commuters.



While the building’s Green Star rating was first-class Precinct Properties viewed it as only a starting point. It wanted proof that Zurich House was energy efficient and had long-term credentials.

NABERSNZ fitted the bill as a diagnostic tool.

“A NABERSNZ rating gives a snapshot of a building’s performance with close analysis of its carbon footprint. It encourages a multi-party approach between owners, engineers and maintenance people to bring about good management of a property,” says Precinct Properties Operations Manager, Paul Singleton.


NABERSNZ in action

In 2013 meters were installed to gauge the ‘base building’ energy performance of core services in Zurich House including lifts, stairwell lighting, common toilets, air conditioning and ventilation.

The initial results were a surprise. In its first year of assessment Zurich House scored only a 1 star NABERSNZ rating.

“It was a poor result but it provided insight into where we could improve and fine-tune.  It helped us better understanding the building,” says Paul.

He says Precinct Properties adopted a three level approach to improve its NABERSNZ rating.

At the basic level it ensured devices were switched off at weekends and public holidays through the implementation of automated rather than manual systems.

Secondly it reviewed the mechanical commissioning of the building with engineers and liaised with maintenance contractors to seek confirmation that equipment was fully operational and regularly checked.

 At the third level it examined and altered “the building’s nitty-gritty” – building management system controls and algorithms in order to optimise the performance of lighting and mechanical services and all plant and equipment.

In early 2015 Zurich House achieved a NABERSNZ 3.5 star rating out of a possible 6 stars – and in June 2016 achieved a 4 star rating – representing an ‘excellent’ for energy efficiency and a massive 45 percent improvement on its first score.


The value of NABERSNZ

Paul says NABERSNZ has brought across the board benefits to Zurich House including:

  • cost-effectiveness - a small capital investment in exchange for lowered operation costs.
  • a collaboration between owners, engineers and maintenance contractors  to get the best from the building.
  • added value for tenants.
  • an energy-smart office space with increased well-being for occupants.

One of 12 tenants in Zurich House, EECA – the government agency promoting energy efficiency – says improved comfort, reduced costs and reduced carbon emissions are by-products of NABERSNZ.

“Our comfortable work day environment is priceless and fosters a high level of productivity with our staff.  We now have fewer sick days due to colds and management has noticed lower operating costs,” says EECA Account Manager Commercial Buildings, Drew Roberts.

Paul says the NABERSNZ rating tool also allows Precinct Properties to monitor its own performance and commitment to sustainably built, energy savvy commercial property.

“Zurich House has been a complex project involving the revamp of an original 1970s building with a highly engineered design and complicated mechanical systems but NABERSNZ has allowed us to refine and tweak our systems. We now have a good result to build on and it will inform other projects.”


The owner and building manager

Precinct Properties New Zealand Ltd is the largest owner of premium inner-city business space in Auckland and Wellington with a portfolio of 13 landmark buildings and a number of properties currently under development.

The publicly listed company is a key player in the push for sustainable, energy smart buildings in New Zealand’s commercial built environment.

Precinct Properties was an original sponsor of NABERSNZ at the time of its introduction in 2013 and piloted the rating tool at Zurich House.  It currently has nine NABERSNZ rated properties on its books and with three additional ratings underway. precinct.co.nz


The consultants

Norman Disney & Young (NDY) is a leading firm of consulting engineers with a global presence and offices in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Delivering sustainable, innovative and tailored solutions with environmentally friendly outcomes underpins its practice.  Its services include the development of new designs and ‘greening’ existing buildings.


  • 2009 – achieves a 5 Green Star Design rating
  • 2010 – achieves 5 Green Star Built rating.
  • 2013  -  achieves a 1 star NABERSNZ base building rating.
  • 2015  - achieves a 3.5 star NABERSNZ base building rating.
  • 2016  - achieves a 4 star NABERSNZ base building rating.
  • Energy efficiency at Zurich House has improved by 45.45 percent between its 1 and 4 star NABERSNZ ratings.
  • Its energy use is now 96 kwh/year/m2 compared with 176 kwh/year/m2 in 2013.