Developers of some of Tauranga's newest commercial builds have invested millions of dollars in making their buildings sustainable as the city moves into a "new era" in construction, experts say.

Tauranga business leaders and environmental experts say while building "green" equalled a larger investment, sustainable buildings made good economic sense in the long run.

Some of Tauranga's newest builds had adopted a sustainable approach, including the $42 million Mainfreight logistics hub, the $60m University of Waikato CBD campus and Zespri's $40m hub in the Mount.

Solar power, rainwater harvesting and electric vehicle charging stations are some of the features of Mainfreight's new $42m transitional freight facility on Truman Lane in Mount Maunganui.

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Tauranga City Council issued consents for the $10m stage one of the project in January and construction of the new 18,000sq m freight terminal and 2000sq m office and amenities was scheduled for March 4.

Mainfreight managing director Don Braid said the new hub will harvest rainwater for non-potable cold water use throughout the site, including truck wash, building wash and toilet flushing.

Braid said the building will recycle 85 per cent of its grey water from truck wash back into the wash system to be re-used.

Mainfreight's Don Braid. Photo / File
Mainfreight's Don Braid. Photo / File

The building will also use solar power and a heat recoverable VRF HVAC system.

"It means we take heat from the air con operation to use in the system as a heat source instead of generating heat," Braid said.

Electric vehicle charging stations providing an initial 10 electric vehicle car parks will also be added.

"Sustainability has always been at the forefront of what we do," Braid said. "We have recycled for years, however, as technology improves we are able to build facilities that are better for the environment, our people and our customers."

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stan Gregec said "sustainable is definitely the way to go".

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"Tauranga is moving into a new era," he said. "We've already seen a start with green elements to some of Tauranga's newer buildings, but Mainfreight's development takes it to a new level."

Gregec said sustainability and the circular economy made good economic sense and was "the way all buildings will have to go sooner or later".

"It may seem to add a few more dollars up front to the initial build, but the savings and the returns over time will pay off very quickly, and the building will be much better fitted for the future," he said.

The new Zespri headquarters at Mount Maunganui was investing more than $40m into its development, which included smart technology and a range of design features to help improve energy efficiency.

The project also includes the redevelopment of a neighbouring public park.

Zespri's head of sustainability Rachel Depree said sustainability was a major priority.

"We know that our consumers are increasingly aware of social and environmental issues and expect us to show that we're addressing these," she said.

The University of Waikato was blessed last month. Photo / George Novak
The University of Waikato was blessed last month. Photo / George Novak

University of Waikato professor Alister Jones said the new CBD campus was built with sustainability in mind and had used a variety of measures to ensure the building was as sustainable as possible through design, construction and planning.

Priority One projects manager Annie Hill said the design philosophy behind green or sustainable buildings was "the way of the future".

"These types of buildings are essential for a modern city that wants to grow sustainably and to attract new and existing tenants who consider the long term impact of a building on the people that work in it and the environment," she said.

Hill said other benefits of a green approach included lower operational and maintenance costs, improved employee health and productivity and being seen as a more attractive place to work.

The Trustpower building, which relocated to the CBD in 2016, uses a design to improve heating and cooling and includes electric bike charging stations, recycling stations and strategies to reduce reliance on paper.

Cancer treatment facility Kathleen Kilgour Centre, which opened in 2014, was also built with sustainability in mind and includes a rainwater harvesting system and solar power.

The new Zespri hub is under construction in the Mount. Photo / Andrew Warner
The new Zespri hub is under construction in the Mount. Photo / Andrew Warner

Zero Waste Network New Zealand Bay of Plenty chairman Marty Hoffart said it should be a requirement for new builds to follow a green approach.

"Construction and demolition waste is one of the largest components of the waste stream going to landfill," he said.

"We need to change the way we build so that it doesn't result in mountains of waste going to landfill."

MAINFREIGHT'S GREEN INITIATIVES:

- 100kWh solar PV array with the capacity to increase to a 150kWh system.
- Rainwater harvesting for non-potable cold water use throughout the site ie, truck wash, building wash, toilet flushing.
- Truck wash; recycles 85 per cent of grey water back into wash system to be re-used again. Enviro valves and diversion to mitigate runoff.
- Full LED lighting with light harvesting sensors.
- Heat recoverable VRF HVAC system (means heat is taken from the air con operation to use in the system as a heat source instead of generating heat).
- EV charge stations looking to provide 10 EV car parks initially, with further capacity installed.


UNIVERSITY OF WAIKATO'S GREEN INITIATIVES:

- Bespoke sun-shading to lower the energy consumption
- The roof is designed to take solar panels in future
- Electrical light fittings are predominantly LED
- Mechanical systems selected to maximise in-use efficiency
- Rainwater storage for use in the flushing of toilet amenities
- Site well-serviced for public transport
- Bike rack parking, and showers on the ground floor
- Uses lightweight, efficient steel structures
- Predominately demountable and recyclable glass, metal and concrete external finishes


ZESPRI'S GREEN INITIATIVES:

- Smart facades to assist with sun shading and help reduce the need for temperature control
- Water-efficient plumbing fittings and recycling of rain and greywater
- Energy efficient lighting with localised occupant sensor control
- Rooftop solar panels to improve energy efficiency
- Enhanced recycling options for waste management
- Activity-based working spaces to reduce physical footprint