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Homestar.org.nz provides free online home rating tool

WELLINGTON, 8 November 2010 - Minister of Building and Construction, the Hon. Maurice Williamson, today launched Homestar™, a comprehensive home rating system to help Kiwis create healthier, more comfortable and energy-efficient living spaces. An initiative of the New Zealand building industry, Homestar™ provides a free online assessment at www.homestar.org.nz allowing owners to assess their home’s performance in comfort, health and energy-efficiency.

Mr Williamson said that there are one million homes in New Zealand that need to be improved. “These homes can be made more comfortable, warmer in winter, cooler in summer and healthier to live in, while using less energy and water. The Government thinks it’s vitally important that people have the right information to make informed decisions. We support the Homestar™ initiative to develop this assessment and rating tool, to make it easier for home owners and occupiers to understand and improve the performance of their homes.”

Alex Cutler, CEO of the New Zealand Green Building Council, a Homestar™ joint venture partner, says: “This unique tool is a world first, rating both new and existing homes, and it provides recommendations for home occupants to help them improve the health and comfort of their homes. We welcome the Government’s support of this industry led initiative.”

The free online assessment covers such areas as insulation, heating, water use, waste, ventilation and indoor air quality, among other things, and calculates a value rating, from one to ten stars, based on these factors. It also provides useful information on cost-effective upgrades and other available options for improving home health, comfort and efficiency.

How the Homestar™ online tool works
In the online assessment, should the house not achieve a minimum performance level in core areas of overall warmth and comfort (specifically the ability for the house to achieve healthy winter-time temperatures without using excessive energy), Homestar™ will provide the home owner with suggestions on how to make the home healthier and more comfortable, as well as being kinder to the environment. Some suggestions may involve simple actions that involve little or no cost, while others may involve investments that will pay for themselves through lower running costs or other benefits to the household.

To gain a higher star rating the home owner will need to address the core issues highlighted in the initial assessment, and then reassess the house once the changes have been made.

Homecoaches™ Assessment & the Homestar Certified Assessment
Homestar™ is currently training Homecoaches™ nationwide who can provide assistance with the online assessment and tailor a set of recommendations specific to the homeowners needs.

In addition, a Homestar™ Certificate Assessment will provide a qualified rating for the home, validated by a third party. This will be carried out by trained specialist building professionals covering much greater detail than the self assessment. The assessor will spend a few hours at the home measuring in detail the attributes that contribute to the comfort, health and performance of the home. The homeowner will receive a Homestar™ Certificate of Assessment and a unique registration number for authentication purposes.

Ms Cutler continued, “The assessment is not compulsory, though overtime it is expected that market forces will encourage home owners to obtain a Homestar™ certified rating when buying and selling a home. Homestar™ is expected to have an impact on property values, with a higher star rating providing a competitive edge for some houses on the market. It is anticipated that initial interest in Homestar™ will come from owners, builders, tradesmen, architects and real estate agents during renovations, maintenance, construction, buying or selling.”

International Precedents
The New Zealand Homestar™ rating system follows similar initiatives internationally. Since 2007, houses in Britain have required an energy efficiency rating (Energy Performance Certificate) before they can be sold, and all new homes are required to be built to the Code for Sustainable Homes. In addition, the European Union has now made it mandatory for every home in Europe to have an energy efficiency rating by 2012. Similarly, in the United States, LEED for Homes has a voluntary rating system which promotes the design and construction of high-performance homes.

About Homestar™
Homestar™ was developed by a joint venture partnership between BRANZ, Beacon Pathway and the New Zealand Green Building Council with the support of the building industry and key Government agencies, the Department of Building and Housing and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority.

Homestar™ is officially supported by industry partners, including PlaceMakers, The Healthy Home Group, Pink Batts, Gib, Fletcher Aluminium, Stonewood Homes, Resene, Cavalier Bremworth, and Methven.

In addition, Homestar is also working with industry organisations such as Certified Builders, Registered Master Builders, the Designers Institute of NZ, and the Concrete and Cement Association of NZ, amongst others.

For more information about Homestar™, visit
www.homestar.org.nz.

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