Valuing Sunshine

August 2017

Kainga Tuatahi

The shady-side of the street, Constable Street in Wellington. Photo: Motu.

Beams of light and warmth make a house desirable, and we value them.

The famous Swiss-born French architect Le Corbusier once said that people needed space and light just as much as they need bread or a place to sleep. To paraphrase, dwellings that are situated or designed with good exposure to sunlight are generally preferred as places to live and work compared to those with lesser light levels. Now, research organisation Motu Economic and Public Policy Research have managed to put a price on that sunshine. According to the Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities challenge study, involving data from over 5000 Wellington home sales in the past few years, a home's value increases by 2.4 per cent for every hour of sunlight it gets. This means that negative impacts that can reduce sunlight exposure, such as city intensification or other new developments can now be priced, potentially replacing the current inflexible regulations.

Paper co-author Prof. Arthur Grimes, a Senior Fellow at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, was interviewed in July by Radio New Zealand's Kathryn Ryan. In the interview, Prof. Grimes said that most developers understand the value of sunshine, but putting a value on it opens up a new way of thinking for city planners. "Instead of having inflexible height regulations and setbacks and building envelopes and things like that, they can be more flexible and say; 'If you're going to build a property next to another and it's going to block their sunlight, you need to pay them off'."

For more information about the Motu study Valuing Sunshine please see http://motu.nz/our-work/urban-and-regional/housing/valuing-sunshine/. For a copy of the full report, please download http://motu-www.motu.org.nz/wpapers/17_13.pdf.

To listen to Arthur Grimes Giving sunshine a price tag interview on Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon programme, with Kathryn Ryan, please click play below: