HomestarTM is a New Zealand home rating and advisory tool that examines a broad range of home performance and resource consumption-related issues and is applicable to both new and existing homes.
The tool helps people assess the intrinsic value of their homes using a robust framework adapted from similar tools throughout the world, based around key indicators of warmth, health and resource performance.
A star system is used to indicate the overall performance of the house and ranges from 0-10. A 10-star rated home is an exemplar house across all areas of energy, comfort, health, water, waste, operation, proximity to amenities and material management.
The rating tool has three interactive levels - for homeowners, building professionals and certified HomestarTM assessors.
New Zealand has roughly 1 million homes that are not sufficiently built to provide thermal comfort and a healthy living environment for their occupants. The cost of heating these homes is well in excess of what is spent in other parts of the world with equivalent climates, and poor performing homes have a major impact on health costs and productivity.
BRANZ Ltd, the New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC) and Beacon Pathway Ltd, collaborated in a joint venture to produce and operate a single residential rating tool - HomestarTM - for existing and new stand-alone homes in New Zealand. This industry initiative aligns with government activities to form a public/private sector partnership to create long-term value for all New Zealanders.
The HomestarTM tool assesses the comfort and performance of our homes, provides information for homeowners considering improvements to their home and a performance scale that creates value around warm, healthy and efficient homes. Home owners or occupiers performing home improvements that make their home warmer, drier or more energy efficient will be able to link these improvements to the capital value of their property. A rating will help owners compare new and existing homes on the basis of the comfort and performance, in addition to the location, size or aesthetic qualities of the home.
Overseas research shows homes with performance ratings sell and rent faster, for higher prices than non-rated homes. The UK, Europe and North America have developed similar rating tools, such as LEED for Homes in the USA and Canada and the Code for Sustainable Homes in the UK.
HomestarTM is based on a number of successful international rating tools and the approaches they have taken but has been developed for New Zealand's specific conditions in consultation with a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) made up of industry experts from across the building value chain.
The HomestarTM rating tool framework has been developed to assess new and existing homes and allows for both self-assessment by the homeowner or tenant using the online tool and also independent assessment of the home resulting in the issue of a formal HomestarTM Certified rating. There are four different levels of homeowner or tenant engagement with HomestarTM:
HomestarTM self-assessment online tool
This free online tool allows homeowners and tenants to gain a better understanding of how their new or existing home is likely to perform in terms of energy, health and comfort, water, waste and more. The online tool asks a set of questions within these categories about an existing property and takes approximately 20 minutes. A short report is then produced indicating a provisional HomestarTM rating on a 0-10 star scale. It is anticipated that most existing New Zealand homes would achieve between 1 and 5 stars. In addition to providing a rating for the home, the report includes a list of recommendations to help homeowners and tenants understand how they can make improvements to their home and move up to a higher ‘star band'. At the end of the report, the homeowner or tenant is offered the opportunity to independently contact solution providers who can deliver these improvements.
A Homecoach is an industry professional who has been trained and accredited by HomestarTM and uses the online tool to help homeowners and tenants better understand what they can do to increase the performance of their home. Homecoaches can assist homeowners and tenants either in their home or in-store. This service offers homeowners and tenants assistance when going through the online tool as well as specialist advice on potential solutions for the home.
A HomestarTM Practitioner is an industry professional who has been trained and accredited by HomestarTM and provides professional advice to homeowners and tenants when they are making decisions about home design, via a new build or major renovation project. They can guide the homeowner on increasing the performance of their home and how to incorporate good environmental design and specifications to meet with the appropriate HomestarTM rating. A homeowner or tenant is likely to engage a HomestarTM Practitioner when they are targeting a HomestarTM Certified rating.
HomestarTM Certified assessment
A HomestarTM Certified rating is an onsite assessment performed by an independent assessor who has been trained and accredited by HomestarTM and confirms how well a home is working against a set of predetermined benchmarks within the HomestarTM Certified manual. The Certified assessment process is not one whereby the HomestarTM Assessor provides recommendations to the homeowner or tenant. The HomestarTM Certified star rating given allows prospective buyers and tenants to understand the likely level of performance of a home, and makes it easy to compare with other Certified homes.