Wellington Scoop

Hutt developers planning more sustainable homes – aiming at zero carbon

News from HCC
Hutt City Council owned developers Urban Plus Ltd (UPL) have made a commitment to building more sustainable homes, as Council works towards a zero carbon target.

UPL is switching from using natural gas to using electricity and other more sustainable options for more than 100 dwellings it’s planning to build over the next two years. It’s also committed to build at least one Homestar® rated house or townhouse this year, in what’s believed to be a first for Lower Hutt. Homestar® is an independent rating tool that measures the health, warmth and efficiency of houses.

According to the NZ Green Building Council, New Zealand’s built environment is responsible for 20 percent of the country’s carbon footprint and emissions from the construction industry have increased by 66 percent in the decade from 2007- 2017.

UPL Chief Executive Craig Walton says the construction and related property services industry has a significant role to play in reducing emissions.

“We want to significantly reduce any harm and impact on the environment and we encourage others in the building industry to consider what they can do to reduce their carbon footprint,” he said.

“UPL has scope to do this in a number of more sustainable ways when building, especially during the material selection phase and minimising waste during the construction process. We also want to apply best practice in terms of passive design in areas like insulation. Our aim is to minimise energy consumption promoting warmer, dryer and healthier homes at minimal cost to the occupier.

“Our shareholder, Hutt City Council, has set a net zero carbon target and we want to do everything we can to help achieve this by incorporating sustainability features in the dwellings we are designing and developing. This includes using electricity and water saving features minimising building waste and making buildings ready for charging electric vehicles.”

Hutt City Council Manager Sustainability and Resilience Jörn Scherzer says changing the way we power our homes will be essential in moving to zero carbon.

“Energy emissions in Lower Hutt make up 35% of our city’s total emissions so relatively small changes can have a big impact. In a household that has three showers per day all up, the greenhouse gas emissions associated with a heat pump or solar water heater are approximately 80% lower than when using gas. Over 15 years each home could avoid up to 12 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions,” says Scherzer.

At the end of 2018, Hutt City Council set an organisational target of being zero carbon by 2050. This extended to Council Controlled Organisations like UPL. A possible approach to develop a Lower Hutt Zero Carbon Plan to achieve city-wide emission reductions will be presented to council later in the year.

Council is also actively exploring relevant initiatives to lower its carbon footprint in other business areas, such as the management of energy at its own facilities and its vehicle fleet, and when it considers key investments, such as pools and hubs.

UPL builds and manages rental properties for the elderly and builds new dwellings for sale, some of which have pre-set sales prices making them more affordable. Profits from the sale of these properties are invested back into UPL’s public housing portfolio. UPL will be working to implement sustainable building practices immediately and anticipates that the construction of the first Homestar® rated dwelling will lead to many more.


  1. michael, 18. July 2019, 18:05

    Great initiative Hutt City Council!!
    We could do with some of that in Wellington.

  2. Harry Welsford, 19. July 2019, 9:03

    “Carbon Zero” is a mixed up thinking process. Last time I checked we all still breathe C02. I guess this distracting from real problems means nothing gets done about our contaminated rivers and environmental pollutants. And in Council they can forget about provision of cost effective core services and keep doing PR.

  3. Farmer Bill, 19. July 2019, 10:35

    Well said Harry and let’s not forget that driving your petrol/diesel car, camper van, tractor or quad bike through forests is great in terms of the CO2 emissions. Our native tress can breathe in all the lovely CO2 and photosynthesise it into leaves and wood to produce…. tomorrow’s fossil fuel (aka coal). Trees can also dine out on carbon monoxide. So park up your camper van and run that internal combustion engine and hear the rustle of the wind! Electric vehicles? They are no good for a tree’s diet. Let’s stop bashing carbon.

  4. David O, 20. July 2019, 12:33

    Farmer Bill, You have some rather large misapprehensions about the carbon cycle and the chemical processes behind photosynthesis, which aren’t based on scientific facts. Here’s a primer on Carbon and Trees. Forests themselves don’t create coal, it’s decayed biomass in swamps which when they descend to depth, where under the processes of heat and pressure become coal – a very long process compared to the length of human civilization. Hence why in roughly 200 or so years carbon dioxide has roughly doubled as a percentage in the atmosphere. Natural processes on the planet which remove CO2 don’t operate on the time scales required to remove excess CO2 as quickly as we are releasing the previous geologically stored into the atmosphere. As swamps are being removed at an even faster rate worldwide (including NZ) than forests, you can see even this fictional way to quickly remove carbon from the atmosphere has no foundation on any scientific fact.

  5. David O, 20. July 2019, 12:48

    Harry Welsford, As the point of breathing is respiration, ie the extraction of oxygen via the lungs into the human bloodstream, your comment about having CO2 in the air we bring into the body is pointless. If you just were taking in CO2 into your lungs you would die. Also as we have been increasing the amount of CO2 into the atmosphere, some of this increased CO2 gets absorbed into the world’s water. This changes the Ph of the water to make it more acidic, which even if CO2 didn’t make changes to the atmosphere’s heat retention properties, would be a major problem in itself.

  6. Guy M, 20. July 2019, 17:07

    Yeah, Farmer Bill and Harry Wellsford, you’re woefully informed. What is called the “carbon cycle” involves, in a stable system, about the same amount of carbon coming out of the ground, the air and the sea, as goes back into it. Its been that way for thousands and thousands of years, with relatively stable temperatures. But drastic changes over the last 150 years, especially in the last couple of decades, mean that we now pump out (from memory) about 8 billion tonnes more of CO2 than can be readily absorbed by the sea and the land, so it is remaining in the atmosphere. Don’t fight the science – just understand that it is humans who have caused the problem, and it can only be humans who resolve the problem.