Addressing Energy Efficiency and Smart Design in New Zealand Housing
The 2018 Exemplar Homes Tour has recently completed its run through Christchurch providing “a rare opportunity for residents to experience high-performing homes that are not normally available to view” and bringing much needed developments in energy efficiency and smart design to the forefront of public attention. Taylors New Zealand representative, Project Architect Jayant Rana, attended the forum event to learn of the latest innovations.
“The event was exploring energy efficient housing and the use of alternate construction methods.” Commented Jayant. A Business New Zealand article states that the message behind this event was to draw attention to New Zealand’s outdated building code and to change a strong mindset that energy efficiency and affordability don’t go hand in hand. “There are simple construction techniques that can be used to achieve energy efficient houses at a comparable price to normal construction methods.”
Twelve of the most innovative and sustainable designs throughout Christchurch opened their doors, and builders and designers were in attendance to answer questions from people wanting to ‘easily create their own superhome’. New Zealand Green Building Council Chief Executive, Andrew Eagles, stated that, “The features that make [these high-performance homes] perform so well are available to every home builder, and most can be retrofitted into existing homes during significant refurbishments.”
The ‘Superhome movement’ is growing rapidly year on year and certainly faster than its founders anticipated, and grassroots consumers are becoming more receptive to the message at hand. The movements co-founder, Bob Burnett, says that participants of the movement are now driving change by taking action, as waiting for the government to change the 2004 building code is now not an option for many.
Research has shown that New Zealand’s housing quality has led to many negative health issues, including contribution to the childhood asthma rate which is the highest in the world “with 30% of seven-year old’s being afflicted”. However, this can be resolved by upgrading ‘cold, damp housing’; “a family can downsize by as little as three to five metres off the floor area of an average family home to afford the additional $5000 to $6000 needed to lift standards to build a Superhome (a home with a minimum 6 Homestar efficiency rating).”
“It was wonderful to see architects, designers, builders, sponsors and house owners all a part of this event.” Jayant remarked. “It provided a great networking opportunity with builders who are working with these new alternate construction methods.” The Superhome movement promotes a change for the better by connecting designers, builders, researchers, educators, government and industry experts, and access to great design ideas, technologies and techniques. Some of these alternate methods and techniques include:
• Storing the sun’s heat to stay warm and dry in winter and to provide shade and thermal mass to keep cool in the summer months.
• Featuring efficient lighting and appliances to keep yearly running costs low.
• Using strong natural timbers, rainwater collection and solar systems to boost earthquake resilience
By being able to experience these homes and technologies in an open forum, “people can better understand the benefits of having a warm, dry home with low running costs.” Said Tony Moore, Christchurch City Councils Principal Adviser of Sustainability.
All of the homes featured in this years’ tour have been Homestar rated and comprehensively assessed for ‘health, warmth and energy efficiency’ and are a physical representation of the expertise ‘of all those involved in their creation. “The real takeaway from this event is that, there are a few energy efficient ways of building houses that are sustainable and create less waste which results in consumption of less energy.”
The open home tours are now continuing across New Zealand with a focus on Wellington in August and Auckland in September. To learn more about the Superhome movement and see the homes featured in this year’s tour, visit: www.superhome.co.nz