Home Style Green - Sustainable Design and Building

I've just come back from three days at buildnz designex. This week I report back on some of the highlights from the show and some great new products to look out for.

Plus, a question about reducing VOCs and toxicity in a new home:

  1. Don't be fooled by the name 'eco..'
  2. Look for known, third party verification like ISO 14001, Environment Choice or FSC and looked for reporte figures on VOCs
  3. Use Envirospec 
  4. Ask your designer, supplier and builder, to specify, supply and use low VOC and non-formaldehyde products

Links from the show:


Aridon is a brand new product to keep your house warmer, dryer and to help build it quicker. And it's a Kiwi invention.

Sound too good to be true?

I spoke with creators and owners of the company, Christina Gomes and Stephen Pinkney.

For more information check out: www.aridon.co.nz

You can also check out Aridon, and me this weekend at BuildNZ | Designex: http://buildnz.com/

http://buildnz.com/certifiedbuilders.htm

Christina and Stephen's recommendations:

Direct download: 37_Aridon._A_brand_new_product_to_keep_your_house_dry_and_warm.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:58pm +13

Vector is the electricity distribution, or the 'lines' company for Auckland. Vector is not an electricity generator (in the traditional sense). Nor are they a retailer (in the traditional sense). So why are they now selling solar oiwer systems for homes that generate electricity? I spoke with CEO Simon Mackenzie to find out. 

For more information about their system, check out http://vector.co.nz/solar

Direct download: 36_Whats_so_special_about_Vectors_Solar_Project-.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:41pm +13

The New Zealand Building Code is implementation of the Building Act 2004. It's a 'performanced-based' code, but don't let the name fool you. In this epside I discuss why the Building Code can't be relied upon to produce a good home for you, and what you can do about it. 

Useful Link: 

EECA Report Investigatin quality of insulation in new build residential homes:http://www.eeca.govt.nz/node/11719

Direct download: 35_Why_You_Cant_Trust_The_Building_Code.mp3
Category:Building -- posted at: 10:44pm +13

Home Style Green is here to help people build homes that are good for people and good for the planet.

In episode 30, I spoke with Elrond Burrell and asked if Passive House was really relevant to New Zealand. This sparked some great debate and I subsequently caught up with New Zealand based Passive House designer, Jon Iliffe of eHaus.

eHaus is New Zealand's first building company solely dedicated to building homes to the Passive House Standards.

Among other things, Jon discusses:

  1. How Germany is managing to decrease energy consumption while growing their GDP. 
  2. What was good about 1920s houses and are they still good?
  3. How can you justify the cost of building better?

Related Posts:

References:

Direct download: 34_eHaus_the_NZ_Passive_House_experts_with_Jon_Iliffe.mp3
Category:Passivhaus -- posted at: 11:00pm +13

What would you do if you had 6 months to go away and study whatever you wanted? 

Phil McLean is a secondary school teacher who's passionate about design. He was given the challenge to go and find a topic that would put in the shoes of a beginner learner. 

The result is a fresh perspective on solutions for our building industry. Phil's made his outputs freely available, including a Google Map of the most innovative houses in New Zealand, plus a SketchUp model of his 'Stretch and Grow' concept. 

Links:

Other Resources:

Direct download: 33_The_Stretch_and_Grow_House_-_Phil_Mclean.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:11pm +13

Prefab, (short for prefabrication), offers significant advantages to buidling. House can be:

  • Higher quality, with improved finishing and attention to detail without deterioration from being exposed to the elements
  • Produced quickly, being assembled in a matter of days or even hours
  • Very resource efficient, producing little construction waste (a big environmental problem for the sector)
  • Affordable!

So why are we not doing more of it? 

Bell has lead PrefabNZ since it was conceived and then incorporated directly as a result of her research as part of a Masters in Architecture. She's arguably New Zealand's most expert voice in the industry and is motivated to share the many benefits and some of the challenges of prefab. 

Links

Pam's Book recommendations:

Direct download: 32_PrefabNZ_with_CEO_Pamela_Bell.mp3
Category:Building -- posted at: 10:26pm +13

Jonny Parker is a Homestar Homecoach, a home assessor at Home&Dry, and also runs Attic Island in Wellington.

Listen in to find out what Attic Island is and how it can help ensure insulation stays effective, while providing much more usable space if your attic. 

http://www.­atticisland.­co.­nz

In this week's show, I also mention:

- Great comments and discussion happening both on homestylegreen.com: 

http://homestylegreen.com/what-is-the-best-form-of-heating/

and also over at Ecobob.co.nz:

http://www.ecobob.co.nz/Forum/ForumPosts/13187/Re-Is-Passivhaus-Relevant-to-New-Zealand.aspx?ShowForumPostId=13207#ForumPost13207

- Want to buy Ingo's house? Ingo Ratsdorf, who we interview in episode 19 is putting his passive solar house on the market. Let me know if you're interested and I can put you in touch. http://homestylegreen.com/passive-solar-house-riverhead/

- Big thanks for Thomas van Raamsdonk and Pro Clima for hosting an extremely informative workshop on WUFI and house ventilation this week. I hope to bring you more about this in the coming weeks. In the meantime, check out http://www.wufi-pro.com/

Direct download: 31_How_to_store_stuff_in_your_roof_with_Attic_Island.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:12pm +13

Is it 'Passive House' or 'Passivhaus'? That was one question I put to expat Kiwi, and architect Elrond Burrell. The main question though, is Passivhaus even relevant to New Zealand?

Elrond currently works as an Architect in the Herefordshire branch of Architype: http://www.architype.co.uk/

In this episode, we also cover:

  • What is Passive House?
  • How can designers and builders of high performance homes compete with the mass market?
  • How important is indoor-outdoor flow and can you still achieve Passivhaus with it?
  • Can Passivhaus be mass produced?
  • What's the role of social media for building professionals?

Resources:

Direct download: 30_Is_Passivhaus_Relevant_to_NZ_Elrond_Burrell.mp3
Category:Sustainable Design -- posted at: 10:29pm +13

Hot water is the second largest portion of energy use in New Zealand homes, accounting for around 30% of the average energy bill, that's equivalent to $650 per year. So what's the best system for your home?

My general advice:

  1. Do you need a new system? Obviously if you're building new, then you've got a great opportunity. Otherwise, if it's not broken, does it need fixing?
  2. Two main types, storage vs continuous flow. Storage tends to be better for any more than two people in the house
  3. Four main fuel types
    1. Wood
    2. Sun
    3. Electricity
    4. Gas
  4. Larger homes or long thin homes may benefit from more than one system

Resource:

http://www.energywise.govt.nz/products-and-appliances/water-heating

Direct download: 29_How_to_Heat_Your_Water.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:26pm +13