The Government has introduced stringent new requirements on the construction industry, but will that filter through to landscaping?
The government has updated two pieces of regulation that require builders to design and construct structures that are greener than ever. While the new regulations don’t directly impact our industry, it’s a matter of time before landscapers will be asked to improve their environmental credentials.
“It’s important for landscapers to be aware of what’s happening in the building industry,” said Registered Master Landscapers CEO Janine Scott. “While the most recent updates don’t have a direct impact on our line of work, it’s only a matter of time before we’ll have to start complying with more stringent legislature.
“Knowing which way the wind is blowing will help firms to plan and ensure they’re ready to go if and when new
environmental practice laws are introduced.”
The most recent changes are outlined below.
New Green Star requirements for Government buildings
From 1 April 2022, all new non-residential government buildings with a capital value over $25 million will have to hold a minimum Green Star rating of five. From 1 April 2023,
the same standard will apply to all new government buildings with a capital value over $9 million.
“These minimum standards will ensure Government buildings achieve a level of excellence in climate-friendly design and construction that is rarely seen in New Zealand,” said James Shaw, Minister of Climate Change.
Green Star assesses each project across nine categories:
Indoor environment quality.
Land use and ecology.
When asked by NZ Landscaper, a spokesperson from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) said: “The Government is implementing new policies with a focus on reducing embodied and operational carbon, construction and demolition waste as well as operational waste. These requirements are unlikely to directly impact landscaping.
“However, in seeking a Green Star rating, agencies may focus on credits that could have implications for landscaping.”
New energy efficiency requirements
On 29 November 2021, MBIE released the biggest energy efficiency updates to the acceptable solutions and verification methods in more than a decade.
New requirements aim to reduce the amount of energy it takes to heat and cool large buildings by 23%, and to heat homes by up to 40%.
Other changes include updated insulation requirements for residential and small buildings and the introduction of a verification method for the energy efficiency of HVAC systems.
MBIE has signalled its intent to make further updates to the Code in the future. Now, insulation requirements only apply to housing, communal residential, commercial and assembly care buildings; they are classified uses defined in clause A1 of the Building Code.
Industrial buildings and outbuildings (such as those potentially built by landscapers) are exempt from the insulation requirements. Outbuildings include buildings not intended for human habitation (carports, garages, greenhouses, sheds, and similar).
However, landscapers still need to be aware of the changes and should prepare plans to tackle them should outbuildings be included in the next round of updates.