Rise of the Green-empire

Photo/ NZGBC Facebook

Photo/ NZGBC Facebook

Policy Parrot says:

Green buildings are a farce.

Firstly green buildings are championed by an industry that is self promoting and eager to grow. These businesses have ingenuously attached their ideas and products to the notion ‘green’ and with a powerful lobby convinced everyone that building sustainable buildings are required to save the planet.

Utter cods-wallop and trite.

In New Zealand we have the Green Building Council. It offers services including certification for office buildings in the form of a star rating from 3-6 stars depending on how many points a building earns after evaluation. The cost for this ‘certificate’ is $100-150,000.

The Green Building Council is under threat from other similar rating organisations that have arrived or about to arrive from overseas and who will offer rival rating systems for building owners. Competition. Which system is better and who says any of them mean anything? Aren’t these organisations simply spruiker’s capitalising on the modern day popular trend?

Lets be clear – this is a rating industry masquerading under the banner ‘green’. It’s making loads of money selling certificates to building owners so that they in turn can sell or lease buildings to tenants who think (but don’t know) that the buildings are somehow better for the environment and lower costs.

But where is the proof?    

These loonies and subsequently half of our property industry ignorantly believe that green buildings are environmentally sustainable and lower energy use.

This is patently absurd and is utterly untrue.

In 2012 engineering firm Beca were engaged to prepare an audit of a 5-green star building in NZ (that shall remain nameless). Under scrutiny it turns out that the systems engaged were not performing to specification and were costing the tenant (through occupancy costs) substantially more than was budgeted. In short it didn’t save money – it cost more to run.

This example raises some interesting thoughts and this Parrot can’t help having a hack after reading this propaganda from the green industry that made the stuff website.

Green-building ratings are basically a marketing trick for building owners. Tenants decide its an important facet of occupancy to have a sustainable building for the green building credentials (its not really about efficient occupancy cost but the kudos) and so building owners go about doing what they have too in order to deliver such ratings and secure said tenants.

The question is what do these ratings mean to the environment they are protecting and then can the buildings be manipulated to achieve a high rating?

Well yes they can be manipulated and it means very little to the environment.

sustainablesteel_Green_StarHalf the points systems for a green rating is related to bullshit like bicycle parks, whether the products are natural and other totally irrelevant green taliban check list items such as proximity to public transport (oh like smelly diesel buses that are of course not green and environmentally friendly).

One can install an air conditioning system that has been on buildings since the 1970’s and achieve a 5 green star rating, despite the over abundance of emphasis in the rating systems on fresh air cycles.

All heavy frame office structures are made from concrete and steel and glass which are about as natural as it gets for building products. Half of our green-star rated buildings are clad with Alucobond which is about as manufactured as dura-seal wrapping on your kids school books and glazing coated with chemicals that in their raw form would make your skin fall off.

Half of Auckland’s 4 and 5 green star rated buildings are no more efficient and better for the environment than the un-rated buildings around them. They are made of the same materials and have similar mechanical systems. The distinction between a green building and a non rated building is narrow.

These rating systems are nothing more than a crock. Hook, line and sinker from tenant to landlord people are being convinced our buildings are better for it.

And they are not.

Green star ratings are a business and it is that businesses prerogative to convince you and I that the outcomes of their work is environmental sustainability.

As Beca found, these systems – which are said to save on operating expenses – are no more efficient than a building that doesn’t have them. Operating Expenses are as high on a green star rated building as any other building type. They still use the same electrical output and have similar maintenance costs. And it depends if the occupants utilise the systems I the more efficient manner.

So where is the efficiency? And what is the benefit?

Green-star systems look cool and appear to be future world but they are horrendously expensive and have little benefit.

This Parrot knows this blog will set living rooms on fire and cause an onset of counter claims and from greenies and those who have become indoctrinated to this green way of thinking.

The point is to set thought in motion. If green rating systems is a money making industry and if the systems can be manipulated and if green rated buildings are largely built of the same materials and use pretty much the same mechanical systems – then what point do they serve?

And more importantly what tangible benefit – a real quantifiable benefit – is actually being achieved for the environment?

In New Zealand its actually nothing. Perhaps some of these glamourised systems oversea work – but at what cost to install? Does the cost of the materials and systems outweighs the benefit to a tenant over a lease term? Does the extra rent paid by the tenant get offset by lower OPEX costs?

The answer is almost certainly no.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.