Greenbuild website a hit

This Issue This is a part of the Building materials feature

By - , Build 107

The Greenbuild™ online database is helping both product manufacturers and specifiers meet the demands of a marketplace increasingly concerned with sustainability.

Greenbuild was launched in October 2007 and is backed by leading names in the building industry, including the New Zealand Institute of Architects, Masterspec, Registered Master Builders Federation and Building Research. It aims to make it easy for the building industry to compare the characteristics of building products available in New Zealand. As the name suggests, it has a particular emphasis on sustainability.

With Greenbuild, product specifiers can source credible information on sustainable products. Historically, consumers relied on ecomarketing labels or manufacturers’ claims, some of which had little substance. Greenbuild allows specifiers to source, compare, recommend and use sustainable products that are effective and truly sustainable, thus encouraging manufacturers to lift their game.

The site started with 10,000 basic listings, each comprising a brief description of the product, a photo and the manufacturer’s contact details. Since then, 200 manufacturers have registered a further 1,500 products. Although, statistically, there are approximately 500,000 building products, this includes screws and many other products that a specifier wouldn’t detail.

Environmental assessments

Greenbuild’s environmental assessments grade products in five impact categories: energy use, human health, pollution, resource efficiency, and natural habitats and land use. This provides a broad range of information for product users and a useful template for manufacturers looking to improve their environmental performance.

Greenbuild allows manufacturers to see whether they are measuring up and is a cost-effective way to get independent advice if they are not.

To complete an environmental assessment, manufacturers must answer over 150 questions about their product and provide documentary proof to back their claims. Expert assessors review the applications, and the results are posted on the Greenbuild website.

Greenbuild is currently working through the assessment process with 25 manufacturers.

Driving demand

The New Zealand Green Building Council’s Green Star rating system, which assesses the environmental impact of new offices, is also driving demand for sustainable products.

Both government and the private sector require architects to design Green Star-rated buildings that reflect people’s increasing concern with the environmental impact of the buildings in which they live and work. Meridian’s recently completed Wellington head office is an example of this growing trend.

With materials contributing 10% of a building’s total Green Star rating for new office builds, architects, engineers and others involved in the design process have good reason to specify environmentally sustainable products.

Further Green Star rating tools will begin to roll out later this year, including office fitout, light industrial and commercial, education and residential, so there will be potential for even more products to be assessed. With the office interiors tool in particular, materials will contribute up to 21% towards Green Star credits.

Greenbuild is encouraging manufacturers to have their products environmentally assessed now, so that, when the new tools are launched, they’re prepared.

One-stop green shop

Greenbuild allows builders, developers and architects chasing a Green Star-rated building to specify products that have been assessed by Greenbuild as to whether or not they contribute Green Star credits. This also applies to those who just want to incorporate sustainability into their business practices.

With plans to link to the Masterspec specification system, and further improvements to Greenbuild’s website functionality underway, the database is set to become an increasingly useful tool for the building community.

Sustainability is a serious business for the industry. Greenbuild is designed to be a one-stop shop that gives users the product information they need to make the right decisions. It also provides access to the latest industry news and views and an opportunity for users to compare notes with their peers.

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