Architectural science vs. green buildings: Issues for New Zealand
Authors: Byrd, Hugh
ABSTRACT: If the mission of ‘green’ rating tools is to accelerate the transformation of the global built
environment towards sustainability then a high priority must be placed on the energy consumed by
buildings since energy supplies from various sources are depleting.
From an architectural science point of view, the environmental performance of highly glazed buildings
raises questions about their sustainability. As we move into an era of depleted fossil fuels and global
warming, this building type is even more questionable. The paper will investigate the drivers behind
the highly glazed buildings including those components of ‘green’ rating tools that favour this building
This paper examines the apparent anomaly that almost all the case studies of ‘green’ office
developments in New Zealand have high proportions of unshaded glazing, achieve an average of only
50% of the score available for ‘energy’ and are sealed, lightweight, air-conditioned buildings that are
dependent on an uninterrupted supply of electricity in order to remain habitable. These characteristics
are not normally associated with sustainability.
It will be argued that the ‘green’ building rating system in New Zealand has some inherent anomalies
that favour over-glazing and hence poor environmental performance. It will also be argued that energy
criteria in the rating tool should have a higher weighting in order to address not only the forthcoming
‘peak fossil fuels’ internationally but also ‘peak hydro’ in New Zealand.