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A new standard for New Zealand housing

02 Sep 2020
What does 6 Homestar mean and why is it important for the future of housing in New Zealand

A new standard for New Zealand housing

New Zealand is entering a new era of high-quality, healthy housing with the government’s commitment to building to a minimum 6 Homestar standard.

It means that homes built by Kāinga Ora and its development partners will be easier to keep warm, dry, and healthy. For the same level of comfort, they will also be cheaper to run than a typical new house built to the Building Code.

It’s a significant step forward for New Zealand and Kāinga Ora’s leadership will have a positive influence on the wider building industry, says New Zealand Green Building Council director of market transformation, Sam Archer.

But what does 6 Homestar mean and why is it important for the future of housing in New Zealand?

Homestar is an independent tool, run by the not-for-profit Green Building Council, to rate and improve the performance of homes.

The Green Building Council’s vision is: “All homes and buildings in Aotearoa green and sustainable making healthier, happier New Zealanders.”

A home’s performance is rated based on several categories, including energy, water, waste, ventilation, health and comfort, and other environmental factors.

A new house with a 6 Homestar rating will typically make use of environmentally responsible products, including floor coverings, paints, insulation, and interior engineered wood, such as doors and cabinetry. 

The home must have efficient heating, be well insulated, and include double-glazed windows so it’s efficient to heat and keep warm.

Extractor fans are required in the bathroom and kitchen to minimise moisture, while taps, shower heads and toilets must meet water efficiency standards. Lighting will also need to be energy efficient.

All of this means that a 6 Homestar home is easier to keep dry, warm, healthy, sustainable and efficient, exceeding the current standards for new builds in New Zealand.

Housing Minister Megan Woods says the energy savings from 6 Homestar homes are estimated to be over $450 per household every year.

It also results in 80 per cent less construction waste from each building site, Woods says.

The 6 Homestar standard can be achieved while keeping houses at an affordable level, Archer says, and international research shows environmentally certified homes sell for around 9% more than non-certified homes in the same market. 

The long-term benefits of Kāinga Ora committing to 6 Homestar are likely to be significant.

Kāinga Ora is New Zealand’s public housing provider and is leading the largest urban regeneration programme in the country’s history, which includes several large-scale, medium-density developments in Auckland.

Over the next 15 years, tens of thousands of new homes will be built to the 6 Homestar standard. That means more Kiwis living in healthy, high-quality homes.

This will inevitably result in better health outcomes and higher quality of life for more New Zealanders.

“I am proud Kāinga Ora is actively stepping into a global green building movement,” Woods says. “They can see the long-term benefits that this investment will achieve,”.

6 Homestar At a Glance 

  • Independent rating tool for home performance
  • Exceeds Building Code standards
  • Home is easier to keep warm, dry, healthy, sustainable and efficient
  • Doesn’t need to cost significantly more than standard new build
  • Estimated energy and water savings of over $450 per household every year
  • 80% less construction waste
  • Increases home value (Some international research shows up to 9%)
  • Better health outcomes and quality of life for more Kiwis