Sustainable future: Conversation starters for residential developers

Continuing the momentum generated by our popular Sustainability Conversation Starter series, which focusses on different sectors of the New Zealand property market, we are excited to bring you part three – aimed towards developers, especially those in the residential space.

Our firm’s involvement in The Chancery Lane Project  is part of how we are committing to help fight climate change.  However, the implementation of contract clauses is just one of a myriad of ways in which the New Zealand property industry can help fight climate change – and where better to start that than with new construction (especially new homes), where developers have a blank canvas to work with.

See below the other articles in our Sustainability Conversation Starter series:

Creating a sustainable platform for your development

With sustainability becoming a more commonplace topic than ever before, there is no doubt that both residential and commercial purchasers are starting to ask a range of questions of developers – from whether (and how) developments have been built sustainably, to how they will continue to be sustainable once ownership passes.  More importantly for developers, those purchasers are giving more weight to the answers they get when it comes to deciding where they want to invest.

Meeting the sustainability needs and wants of purchasers does not necessarily mean higher construction costs, but is certainly likely to create more interest in the end product, and therefore generate higher returns.

Below are number of questions and actions that we encourage developers to raise with their potential purchasers, suppliers, contractors, and territorial authorities to start an open dialogue about sustainable outcomes.

Te taiao | Care for the natural world

  • Ask your ‘target audience’ (potential purchasers) what is important to them in terms of materials – whether source materials and processes as part of the supply chain, or end product fit-out, fixtures and fittings.
  • Ask your suppliers how they source materials and manage emissions created by their manufacturing, shipping, and installation processes.
  • Ask your suppliers and contractors about their waste management plans.
  • Speak to other developers, and owners within their developments, regarding the content of, and response to, land covenants with a sustainability focus to encourage and/or control the use of properties and developments to ensure ongoing sustainable outcomes.

Ngā tāngata | Care for people and communities

  • Ask suppliers and contractors about the implementation of the living wage across the supply chain.
  • Ask potential purchasers about community gardens and other green spaces, or at least the setting aside of land for something similar in that space.
  • Ask councils about local infrastructure upgrades to ensure roads and footpaths are safe for walking to schools and work.
  • Consider the establishment of a residents association or similar body to foster/encourage a focus on the ongoing sustainability of the development.

Ngā tikanga | Implement sustainable practices

  • Speak to accreditation providers, and design and build towards recognised accreditations – e.g. Homestar or Greenstar certification but also put in place provisions to ensure ongoing compliance with those standards (or even targeting higher sustainability performance).
  • Speak to your architect(s) and engineer(s) about future proofing at the development stage.  Legislation (e.g. healthy homes standards – per the Residential Tenancies (Healthy Homes Standards) Regulations 2019) is already forcing owners, and therefore developers, to improve their housing stock.  As sustainability and climate change continues to gather momentum, we expect subsequent legislation will keep raising the bar, so developments that are significantly ahead of that curve will likely become more and more popular with purchasers.
  • Ask the Council and traffic management agencies about their strategy for the development of public transport in the area, and incorporate facilities and features into the development which align with that strategy and encourage sustainable transport practices – e.g. secure bike parks, changing and shower facilities for commercial developments, electric vehicle charging stations, and safe and secure access to public transport.

Please contact any one of our experts if you have any queries on The Chancery Lane Project or would like assistance in relation an existing or proposed development, or how we can help facilitate conversations in this area.

Co-authored by Erin Wylde, one of the Solicitors in our Property team and Abi Crawford, one of the Senior Solicitors in our Property team.

Who can help