Auckland residents will soon be able to access health and safety information about their homes as Auckland Council increases efforts to raise the standard of housing in the country’s most populated city. From April 2020, Auckland Council will receive verification as properties become HomeFit Certified from the New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC). This data will then be lodged in the property Land Information Memorandums or LIM report. LIM reports are commonly requested before purchasing or developing a site to provide information about the property’s history, zoning, special land features or existing consents. From April, those investigating property in Auckland will know if the home has met the healthy home standards and efficiency criteria assessed in the HomeFit Certification process.
This is a significant endorsement for the HomeFit Certification program and confirms to the housing sector that the government is committed to improving community health and the quality of our existing homes. With the uptake and support at regional and national levels, HomeFit (which incorporates the Healthy Home Standards) is a driver for change. The fact that we need healthy home standards and independent HomeFit assessments also highlight’s the inadequacies in the current New Zealand building code.
According to Andrew Eagles (CEO of NZGBC), there are two views as to what's wrong with the building code and the existing housing stock in New Zealand. One is the way we traditionally construct and build our homes, and secondly, how we live or utilise them. In a recent Radio NZ interview, Eagles states that the “OECD and International Energy Agency has said that the NZ building code is woeful and needs updating.” (RNZ, Nine to Noon, 11/2/20). The NZGBC is calling on the New Zealand Government to update the New Zealand building code in three stages starting from 2022, 2026 and 2030.
Some key critiques of the current building code include:
The average r-value or insulation value of NZ homes is well below the insulation standards that the average UK home was in 2003;
Window fixing does not minimise thermal bridging or heat loss;
There is little consideration for low carbon materials, fixtures or process during the construction of homes;
Slab foundations should be insulated; and
Adequate efficient heat source should be required in the living area.
If implemented, updates to the building energy code could introduce zero energy buildings into the mainstream residential market by 2030. Imagine if your home created as much energy as it consumed! This is already a reality for some homes in the USA and Canada, and by applying some relatively simple and proven building practices, New Zealand can create an opportunity to make our homes warmer, drier, healthier and more affordable to run. Plus, with the Healthy Home Standards now integrated into HomeFit to improve existing rental properties, we can expect flow-on effects from the uptake of HomeFit in Auckland that will influence the building code, reduce emissions, energy use and help educate New Zealanders around the country.
4Sight Consulting has qualified HomeFit Assessors with the expertise and understanding to undertake HomeFit Assessments on existing properties for tenants, homeowners, purchasers and property managers. If you wish to know more or get HomeFit certified, we’d love to hear from you!
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