[ sustainable design ]


We are all aware of the impact building construction and usage has on the environment. Pacific Environments were early to adopt environmentally sustainable processes and methodologies in the practice, and were one of the founding signatories of New Zealand Architects Declare. As founding signatories to Declare, we are committing to strengthening our working practices to create architecture and urbanism that has a more positive impact on the world around us. We have recently joined Toitu Envirocare and are working towards becoming a certified carbon net zero company by 2022.

Fundamentally buildings should behave passively and operate comfortably under different circumstances and climates, ideally with no non-renewable energy input. Generally this requires excellent day light levels to all areas, naturally ventilated spaces with opening windows, effective insulation, an appropriately shaded building envelope and suitable orientation to north. Materials should be robust, low maintenance and to the highest environmental standard available.

Our philosophy is in the practical application of environmentally sustainable design to suit a project brief and budget. Measures to mitigate negative environmental impact should be investigated early in the design process, including the preliminary planning, as they will influence (among other things) site selection and utilisation, materials and finishes selection, spatial orientation (towards sun and wind), hours of operation, and optimal sizes of space.


The eight commitments that we have made as Signatories to Architects Declare New Zealand  

Buildings and construction play a major part, accounting for nearly 40% of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions whilst also having a significant impact on our natural habitats.

Pacific Environments have signed up to Toitū, and are currently working towards a Carbon Net Zero Goal by 2023.

Raise awareness of the climate and biodiversity emergencies and the urgent need for action amongst our clients and supply chains.

Advocate for faster change in our industry towards regenerative design practices and a higher Governmental funding priority to support this. Share knowledge and research to that end on an open source basis.

Establish climate and biodiversity mitigation principles as the key measure of our industry’s success: demonstrated through awards, prizes and listings.

Evaluate all new projects against the aspiration to contribute positively to mitigating climate breakdown, and encourage our clients to adopt this approach.

Upgrade existing buildings for extended use as a more carbon efficient alternative to demolition and new build whenever there is a viable choice.

Encourage life cycle costing, whole life carbon modelling and post occupancy evaluation as part of our basic scope of work, to reduce both embodied and operational resource use.

Adopt more regenerative design principles in our studios, with the aim of designing architecture and urbanism that goes beyond the standard of net zero carbon in use.

Collaborate with engineers, contractors and clients to further reduce construction waste. Accelerate the shift to low embodied carbon and non-toxic materials in all our work. Minimise wasteful use of resources in architecture and urban planning, both in quantum and in detail.


Homestar is a comprehensive, independent national rating tool run by the New Zealand Green Building Council, that measures the health, warmth and efficiency of New Zealand houses. Homestar provides a clear framework for housing sustainability and performance and aims to create homes that are healthier and more efficient than much of New Zealand’s existing housing stock.

What is a Homestar rating?

A Homestar assessment will rate a home on a scale from 6 to 10.

A Homestar 6 rating or higher provides assurance that a house will be better quality, warmer, drier, healthier and costs less to run than a typical new house built simply to the building code. A Homestar 10 rating means you’ve built a world leading home.

Most new homes built to the Building Code may only achieve a Homestar 3-4 rating, and many existing New Zealand homes may achieve a Homestar 2-3 rating. Ratings of 6 and 7 are the most attainable for a standard New Zealand house.

What are the benefits?

Requesting a Homestar Assessment as part of your house design and construction process, will ensure that the building methodology, project management and building materials selected will result in increased efficiency, reduced environmental impact and an overall reduction in the running costs of your new home. A Homestar rating will certify your homes quality, which is beneficial to future purchasers, Banks and mortgage brokers who may provide lending incentives on Homestar rated properties

How do we rate it?

To rate a home’s performance and environmental impact, Homestar awards points across seven categories: energy, health and comfort, water, waste, materials, site, home management, and an optional innovation category.

Each category is broken down into credits, and points are awarded based on the level of achievement in each credit.

Your house will be assessed during the design phase, through an assessment of the full and final plans, and then again after your home is constructed. This certifies that the features in the design rating have been fully implemented into the finished build, and that your new home has achieved your desired Homestar rating.

​Our Homestar Assessors have been trained and accredited by the New Zealand Green Building Council, and we can help you to achieve a Homestar rating right from the concept design phase of your new home build, through to practical completion.