Homestar: green credentials for a better home

Right now, buying a home may feel like an impossible dream for many first home buyers – particularly if you’re house hunting in our biggest city. Solution Street was founded in 2016 to address this very issue, and to bring affordable, well-designed and more sustainable homes to New Zealanders.

Provider Solution Street’s promise to Auckland home buyers is that every one of their homes comes with a Homestar rating. Building an affordable house that’s also rated on its green credentials ensures the home is good for the homeowner and the planet. A greener home is going to be more efficient, saving the owner money while using less of our planet’s resources for things like heating.

A home that’s built to sustainable principles is also very likely to be a healthier home by eliminating issues such as drafts and damp. Solution Street’s commitment to providing homes that ecologically conscious owners will be proud to own means living up to a set of strong values and being independently judged on how the company achieves its goal of creating sustainable homes.

This means signing up to the New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC) Homestar rating system. Through Homestar, Solution Street ensures that every detail of the design and construction of the home meets the NZGBC’s criteria for a more sustainable home. This includes making sure there’s a recycling programme for waste construction materials (a leading source of waste to landfill in New Zealand).

What is Homestar?

Many New Zealand homes don’t meet basic standards for health, warmth, ventilation, and operating efficiency for Aotearoa’s climate – where even new homes can perform poorly depending on where they’re built. Insulation requirements are low, and we lack specifications around efficient heating and lighting, water usage, or reducing carbon emissions.

The NZGBC created Homestar in 2010 as an independent rating tool which assesses the health, performance efficiency and sustainability of New Zealand houses. Homestar provides a clear, independent framework to assess the sustainability and It includes mandatory minimum requirements for keeping the home well ventilated, warm and dry as well as resource efficient. Homestar is specific to local needs and conditions, and certifies homes to a standard higher than the Building Code.

A Homestar rating means planning and good design upfront – orienting the house to maximise natural light, for example, as well as meeting high standards for insulation and moisture control. But as providers like Solution Street have shown, it doesn’t have to make a house less affordable.

In fact, living in a house that’s designed and built according to these principles can save you money. Investing in building a high quality home can mean reduced running-costs and lower utility bills for water and power.

To achieve a particular rating, a house must earn points across seven categories. The goal is to create a healthy home that’s better for people and the planet. As well as the finished home, Homestar also considers construction processes, like onsite waste minimisation and sorting.

How it works

To determine its Homestar rating, a house is evaluated based on performance and environmental impact – with points awarded in the seven categories below to arrive at its overall rating. A house also needs a minimum number of points in each category to qualify within the rating system.

What’s included in the Homestar rating assessment?

  • Water. A home is assessed on its water consumption with low-flow taps, showerheads and rainwater tanks gaining points. Installing a greywater recycling system can  also earn points.
  • Waste. Waste management systems need to contribute to overall waste reduction and incorporate compost and recycling bins.
  • Energy, health and comfort. Points are awarded for insulation, heating and ventilation, as well as sound insulation and energy-efficient appliances.
  • Site. Using native planting over exotics, although including fruit trees and vegetable gardens also scores well.
  • Home management. Having an environmental management plan and a home user guide can earn extra points.
  • Materials. Using VOC-free and non-toxic materials in the home as well as eco-label products.
  • Innovation (optional). Points can be earned for features that reduce the building’s environmental impact, which don’t fit other categories.

So if you’re in the market for a new home, there are many reasons to look for a place with a Homestar rating. Solution Street homes are always rated 6 and above in the Homestar system, which means they’re more sustainable and cost less to run than a comparable one built to New Zealand Building Code. From the very beginning and for years to come, buying a Homestar rated home is going to make a difference. To your cost of living, your health and your environmental footprint.

Solution Street also generously includes a welcome pack of ecostore goodies to every whanau when they move in. @solutionstreetnz @nzgbc