Professor of Property
It is important to keep as much as possible of what is left of the heritage buildings due to their historical importance.
It is imperative that we re-build on the current strengths of the city and one of those strengths has always been our heritage architecture. It is one of the things that attracted me here, and has attracted many others.
In Christchurch we now have the opportunity to create a new and exciting, world-class safe, resilient and sustainable built environment. Revitalising and rebuilding the city as an investment destination will attract new businesses and give the Central Business District a vibrant and sustainable future.
However, we must continue with the process of identifying and assessing damage to the utility infrastructure and getting it repaired and upgraded. This is a priority. Contaminated waterways need immediate attention too. Our waterways and coastline are major natural assets with strong aesthetic and recreational appeal. They are part of our city’s identity.
Christchurch has the opportunity to show leadership in sustainability in Australasia through its rebuilding if it commits to a Green Building Policy, and there are good global examples of Green Building Policy in action from which we can learn.
New buildings, both commercial and residential, need to provide a safe, weather-tight, energy efficient and healthy environment. Buildings that meet or exceed current Building Code criteria and are built to a Green Star standard have a greater chance of meeting these requirements. It has been shown that over and above energy savings “green” buildings can deliver a wide range of productivity benefits, from reduced sick leave and absenteeism to staff attraction and retention.
Best practice examples of green cities include Masdar in Abu Dhabi which, when the “greening” process is completed, will be powered by renewable energy, will be carbon neutral and have zero waste. Other “eco cities” include Curitiba in Brazil and Reykjavik in Iceland.
For Christchurch to commit to a Green Building Policy there needs to be a business case that it can be done cost effectively. Fortunately, in this respect, there are also good global models from which we can learn.
The “greening” of the famous Empire State Building in New York is an example. With the drive to “reposition” that iconic building by improving occupancy and re-establishing it on the tourist map the owners identified a number of economically viable options that provided significant returns on investment, both environmentally and financially.
Looking at some of the greenest commercial buildings in Australia (with the highest Green Star ratings) the most successful approaches and features from which we could learn, include -
- An integrated approach to design
- Having a sophisticated building management system and a skilled facilities management team to monitor the building to achieve peak performance
- Ensuring interior fit-out matches the base building
- Providing a building user guide and tenant education on how to use the building optimally.
Features most successful in achieving good, financially viable sustainability solutions in Australian commercial buildings, include -
- Passive solar orientation as a low cost option to achieving good thermal attributes
- Low-E double glazing or high performance glass
- Chilled beam or Variable Air Volume air-handling units
- Energy use targets and monitoring.
Unfortunately many commercial building energy efficiency measures are not manufactured in New Zealand and need to be imported, which adds to the cost of building green. Government assistance may be required in the form of financial incentives. Perhaps the New Zealand Government could follow the lead of Australia which now requires mandatory disclosure of an office space energy efficiency rating in buildings over 2000 square metres before advertisement for lease or purchase, and offers assistance to improve the energy efficiency of commercial buildings.
If done correctly Christchurch could become a showcase of best-practice sustainable city design, attract international interest, increase tourist visits and business investment while providing employment opportunities during the construction and commissioning phases. In summary, I would like to see Christchurch become a vibrant, sustainable and resilient city that takes advantage of its natural and manmade heritage. (Progressive Building magazine, AGM Publishing, acknowledged.)