30 April 2018
Posted by: Annabelle Numaguchi and Evolution
Time to read: 5 mins.
Homestar is the New Zealand Green Building Council tool that provides an impartial, reliable way of ascertaining that the homes we build are as efficient and sustainable as we claim. The latest version offers an easy-to-use Checklist, which is meant to propel the tool into mainstream usage.
A Homestar 6-rating or higher provides assurance that a house will be better quality - warmer, drier, healthier and cost less to run - than a typical new house built to building code. A Homestar 10-rating indicates international best practice, usually achieved by a Net Zero house that generates as much power as it consumes.
Launched a decade ago, the Homestar tool has evolved, whilst the ethos behind it has stayed the same. The latest version, V4, came out last July and has simplified the tool while retaining its robustness by creating a checklist for the Homestar Six and Seven ratings, which offer the best balance between general budgetary concerns and higher specifications. The checklist is meant to be implemented at the design stage in order to influence the entire process and outcome.
The Homestar rating offers several advantages on the property market. It offers buyers independent assurance that the home is genuinely energy-efficient and promises greater returns for sellers. As energy-efficient homes emerge from niche market to mainstream, claims that homes are built and perform better abound, but regulatory checks do not.
Power bills cannot be relied on as verification of a home's performance because they don’t tell the whole story. An under-heated house will have low power bills. A large, drafty home can offset its energy bills through solar panels. Whilst this is renewable, there is an environmental cost to the production, distribution and disposal of the panels. For a home to qualify as energy-efficient and sustainable, a high-performing thermal envelope is key and accounts for almost half the points towards a Homestar rating.
Building a certifiable energy-efficient home is easier than ever, thanks to the new, streamlined system Homestar V4 has introduced. By implementing this checklist at the design stage, designers and builders can help the homeowner achieve a Homestar Six rating. Once the home and landscaping are complete, an Assessor simply checks off the verified features on the list, making it a cost-effective rating to achieve.
The cost of using this tool sits between $2000-$3000, depending on Assessor fees. This should be an easy sell to the homeowner considering the outcomes of reduced power bills, improved health and comfort and greater returns on the property market.
We as an industry need to build better homes. Even if our hearts and ethos are in the right place, it’s easy to overlook areas in which we could do better. Just as there is a minimum code to guide us, there should be a system that clearly lists the criteria that goes into building an energy-efficient, sustainable home.
All Homestar 6 homes photographed above were built by Evolution, a division of Rilean Construction