The sustainable heart of the city

Building innovative, smartly-designed residences that achieve Homestar 7 sustainability ratings for energy-efficiency doesn’t just happen by chance.

Feb 1, 2018

Wynyard Quarter developer Willis Bond & Co...

has continually worked with designers and agencies to ensure a positive community environment and a sustainable one at that– is taking shape alongside Auckland’s vibrant Waitamata Harbour.

All three of Willis Bond & Co’s key luxury buildings in the vibrant harbourside community of Wynyard Quarter have been designed with sustainability in mind. After all, a ‘blue/green’ waterfront has been the desired outcome in Auckland’s iconic harbourside precincts since the very start of the multifaceted urban rejuvenation program. 

“Before any redevelopment work commenced, in-depth modelling was carried out over a lengthy period in order to work out what the best means of achieving a sustainably-built community would be,” says Miranda James, Head of Corporate Responsibility for urban redevelopment agency, Panuku Development Auckland. 

“We knew from the very beginning that the Wynyard Quarter project would need to be an exemplar of urban regeneration. The ground work that was undertaken in  the precinct and the design of the residential and commercial properties would need to show industry as a whole that incorporating sustainable attributes can be achieved successfully. 

“Willis Bond & Co has a lot of development expertise. The quality of design they have achieved is apparent when you move through the precinct.”  

Miranda says that it isn’t just buildings that need to achieve a high level of sustainability; public spaces needed to adhere to similarly robust, well-articulated design standards. With the development occupying a relatively compact space between Auckland’s central business district and the Waitemata Harbour, rain gardens and other ecologically-sound measures ensure the impact the new development has on its unique environment remains low. This ‘green infrastructure’ is designed to filter 80% of pollutants from stormwater. 

“We wanted Wynyard Quarter to show Aucklanders that medium- and higher-density living can be done exceptionally well. While the project is ongoing, I think the results achieved so far speak for themselves.” 

Back up above the new public thoroughfares and green spaces, what does it take for a residence to achieve an acceptable Homestar sustainability rating? 

The increased interest in apartment living in New Zealand has necessitated changes to the Homestar rating system over the last few years. After lengthy reviews, the current programme is now in its fourth version, with the unique attributes of multi-dwelling residences forming a large part of recent updates. 

As Ella Osborne, ESD Engineer at sustainable design consultancy, eCubed, tells us, a lot of work has been done behind the scenes to ensure the recognised framework for sustainable dwelling design remains comprehensive, as the way we live and where we live evolves. 

“There are many aspects to ensuring a private residence adheres to sustainable design. Some attributes can be adapted to apartment living from established stand-alone or terraced housing framework, while others are unique to multi-dwelling complexes,” she says. 

“A large part of what makes apartment design sustainable rests with both thermal balance and natural light performance inside the apartment. The better the balance, the better the overall energy performance of the home. For stand-alone homes and terrace housing there is typically more abundant access to natural light. For apartments, more fine-tuning is required to ensure good natural lighting is provided without compromising the thermal performance. 

“Energy performance is based around the height of the apartment, its orientation and its size. Homestar credits relate to the size of the apartment and the number of bedrooms, so as you can imagine, in Wynyard Central where you have around 30 different layouts, the assessment process can be relatively complex.” 

Other aspects that are assessed when issuing Homestar certification include acoustics within the dwelling, along with design elements conducive to a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle, such as adequate bicycle storage, for example. 

Ella assesses the finished apartments to ensure they adhere to the measures set out at the point of design; that is, no corners have been cut during construction to reduce costs or materials that differ from the originally-conceived specification which might undermine the sustainable performance of the apartment. 

Once the dwelling has been awarded its Homestar certification, the work of consultants such as eCubed are then audited by the New Zealand Green Building Council. The process is certainly thorough, offering peace-of-mind for the developers, and ultimately the owner-occupiers. 

Even the construction process itself is audited as part of Built Certification, whereby the material specification of the building is also assessed, and other aspects of the building process are taken into account, such as how construction waste is dealt with during the build phase. 

As a premium property developer, Willis Bond & Co, has partnered with some of New Zealand’s leading architects to ensure its residences are class-leading in terms of their sustainability. 

Similarly, Willis Bond & Co’s construction partners, LT McGuinness and Haydn+Rollett, have worked closely with eCubed throughout the entire development process to ensure best-practice methods have led to a ‘New Zealand Excellence’ level Homestar 7 rating for the key residential buildings in Wynyard Quarter. 

The end result is a unique, vibrant waterfront community of owner occupiers who are proud to call Wynyard Quarter their sustainable home. 

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