Planning for green building design and technology in New Zealand

by Helene Kirpensteijn

Institution: Lincoln University
Year: 2017
Keywords: New Zealand; Christchurch; Auckland; green building; sustainable building; environmental planning; Resource Management Act 1991; Building Act 2004
Posted: 02/01/2018
Record ID: 2155047
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10182/8022


Green building design and technology has been developed to lower the impacts of buildings on the environment while maintaining, and in some cases improving all the functions and values of a traditional building. Although the initial costs of green buildings are higher than those of traditional buildings, increased performance and efficiency means that green buildings are more cost effective in the long-term. However, because of these higher initial costs and other barriers such as knowledge barriers, behavioural barriers, and regulatory barriers, uptake is still low in many countries, including New Zealand. Local government and the profession of planning have revealed interests in managing green building uptake. Therefore, the objective of this research is to investigate whether planning provisions in New Zealand are an effective way of increasing green building design and technology uptake. To conduct this research, a mixed methods approach was used. This included performing a plan analysis, a Section 32 report analysis, a hearing report analysis for the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan and the Christchurch Replacement District Plan. Interviews were also carried out with representatives from these councils and the New Zealand Green Building Council. The findings of this research was that mandatory provisions written into unitary/district plans can be effective in increasing green building uptake. However, Section 18 of the Building Act prevents them from doing so. Therefore, the most effective methods at this time are incentive based schemes such as reduced resource consenting time and costs for green building consents, and the use of height and density bonuses. In conclusion, in the current regulatory environment, planners cannot effectively implement mandatory green building provisions. However, they can effectively manage non-mandatory provisions for increasing green building uptake. If in the future planners were to be able to successfully execute mandatory provisions to increase green building uptake, then Section 18 of the Building Act would need to be amended. For implementing mandatory green building provisions in the future, it is recommended that an incremental, step-by-step approach is used so as to avoid unnecessary stress on homeowners and developers.