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NZ eco-development demonstrates the business value of energy efficiency

Posted on: June 24th, 2008 | Filed in Architecture & Construction, Green

Earlier this month I wrote a post titled “Eco design and speedy construction could deliver sustainable and affordable housing” – in it I made this statement:

It seems from this UK project that this government and the community’s aspiration to meet the ideals of affordable housing; eco-friendly construction as well as building communities could be met which such a blue-print development – all we need is a NZ developer to step up.

Well it seems that one developer has taken me at my word! – Kensington Properties Ltd.

Kensington Park is a $400 million development of 40 acres comprising over 700 properties – currently under construction at Orewa, north of Auckland.

There are a couple of very interesting aspects to the development that caught my eye – primarily the focus on energy efficiency and secondly the consumer demand.

In regard to energy efficiency the claim is that the electricity bills for owners could be cut by more than half in a project aimed at slashing home power costs. Patrick Fontein, Managing Director of Kensington Properties and Chairman of the New Zealand Green Building Council, told me that houses which would usually cost $2,000 a year to run should cost only $800, according to the projections provided by Right House, the energy efficiency advisory service set up by the state-owned energy company Meridian Energy.

Right House has been working on the project for a year, fine-tuning the eco-friendly aspects. Some of the more commonly overlooked aspects when planning a new home are the very things that can have the most impact on our comfort and health. It’s not just about saving money on power. Home heating, water heating, energy efficiency and the control of the interior environment are treated as integral parts of the Kensington Park building process.

For example floor slabs which the houses stand on will be wrapped to insulate them against heat gains and losses. The houses will be oriented on their sites for maximum energy efficiency and have water-heating solar panels installed on each roof. Low-energy heat pumps will be installed for maximum heating and energy savings. Windows will be double-glazed to minimise heat transfer. All storm-water will be treated on the site via a lake and weir system which separates sediments. Stormwater will also be recycled and used to irrigate gardens in public areas.

Kensington Park NZ It is very interesting to note the financial decisions taken by Kensington Properties. They concede that there is an additional construction cost for delivering this standard of energy efficiency and eco-friendly design, but they consider the purchaser interest alone as proof that it’s well worth it. By their calculations a one-off house with these features would cost $50,000 extra, however they have driven this cost down to just $30,000 extra per home to construct because their applying scale factors by applying their approach to all of the houses at once.

Kensington Park Asia Pacific Property Awards 2008This offer of efficiency, environmental consideration and master plan design that focuses on a true community is the reason behind the fact that even though real estate sales are sluggish at best at the moment the interest level of buyers remains strong for these new houses at Kensington Park.

To add to this encouraging story is the fact that the development has been awarded the CNBC Asia Pacific Property Award for Best Overall Development, Best Property Marketing and Best Architecture. This is believed to be the only time a NZ company has won this award – beating stiff competition from Australia, China, India, Thailand and Japan.

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