Truly ‘green’ building needs to consider every building component

Even the humble nail has a carbon cost, or simply the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that was created in making it, New Zealand's Building and Construction Minister Clayton Cosgrove said following the release of a discussion document with a focus on 'green' building design.

The Minister is attempting to lead a review of the country’s Building Code last published in 2004 – with the goal of setting a global precedence – in requiring the ‘assessment of the overall carbon cost of producing, maintaining and using new buildings.’

Mr Cosgrove said: “In a truly ‘green’ building, that cost might be included in the building’s overall energy efficiency.

“Using the projected lifetime CO2 emissions of buildings as the principal measure of resource efficiency under the new Building Code is worth considering. This approach would take into account energy and water efficiency, construction materials and construction waste.”

Patrick Fontein, Chairman of the New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC) said “that the Ministers recent discussion document is a step in the right direction,” but also went on to highlight that “there are many issues to work through before the industry will agree on an acceptable method of calculating such complex issues around embodied energy.”

In a statement responding to Cosgrove’s approach to green building, the NZGBC outlines its own ‘Green Star NZ rating system’ which considers a range of specific criteria, including management, indoor environment quality, energy use, access to transport, water efficiency, use of sustainably-sourced materials, land use and ecology, and emissions.

The Green Star NZ is designed to significantly reduce the environmental impact of buildings by minimising the over all environmental impact during a buildings construction and operation, the NZGBC said.

Mr Cosgrove said: “Ideally our buildings of tomorrow will be more energy efficient and therefore cheaper to run through having lower electricity and gas bills, while also being reasonably-priced to build from materials that collectively have the least impact on the environment.”

Dana Gornitzki

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