New-build offices containing all the latest in technological advancements now dominate the high-end office market, but is there really any need for this to be the case? Why is it that we focus so heavily on new premises rather than refurbishing existing buildings to meet the requirements of today?

Well, one New Zealand developer seems to have asked that exact question and in the process set an example for developers around the world to hopefully follow, by turning an outdated 1970s office block into one of Wellington’s most energy-efficient buildings. In fact, that title carries true across the country as a whole, not just the individual city.

Aorangi House   - Img: Cameron Burnell/Fairfax NZ
The building in question is Aorangi House, located on Molesworth Street in Central Wellington. Following an extensive refurbishment effort designed by engineering consultancy Beca, the anchor tenant for the property, the building was given an energy rating of 5 stars out of a possible 6 by Naberz NZ, a government-backed tool that gauges energy efficiency in the commercial property sector.

The tool measures the energy performance of a building’s core services, including lifts, stairwell lighting, toilets, air conditioning, and ventilation.

Now 46 years old, the building has an energy performance rating more than 50% higher than the average office building, proving that re-fitting old buildings can be just as effective as the construction of new premises all at a fraction of the cost.

Naberz NZ assessor Ben Masters said of the building’s hard-earned new rating, “What makes the 5-star rating so significant is that Aorangi House is a recycled building. It shows sustainable refurbishment is a viable option to the carbon-hungry alternative of demolition and replacement.”

Masters did note that the design used to up the energy efficiency of Aorangi House may not be suitable across the board for all renovation projects, but their success in improving the existing building serves as proof that brand new builds are not as necessary as some would have you believe. Rather, looking towards the refurbishment of existing buildings may serve us better on the whole.

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor in an attempt to expand his horizons.
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