Home Style Green - Sustainable Design and Building

Phase change materials and how to add thermal mass to light weight buildings.

After learning to build cob houses, Chris Brookman now supplies some very cool, modern clay and timber material products to building industry. 

Direct download: 96_Back_to_Earth_with_Chris_Brookman.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:47am NZST

The Homestar Mandatory minimums are a series of benchmarks that have to be achieved in order to progress up the Homestar scale. They're important because if they are are not achieved, your score will be held back. So what are the Homestar mandatory minimums, and how can you achieve them?

Direct download: 95_Homestar_Mandatory_Minimums.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:21pm NZST

There are eco labelled paints, and then there are eco paints. What's the difference?

Direct download: 94_AURO_Eco_Paints.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:47am NZST

So, you know you want a sustainable (healthy, efficient, affordable and desirable) home, but where do you start? I've covered the fundamentals  of what makes a good energy efficient home, but these are details. What's the big picture? Where do you start a sustainable house?


Direct download: 93_Where_to_Start_a_Sustainable_Home.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:43pm NZST

Group or volume builders get a bad rap sometimes for perpetuating bad building practise. But it is possible to get a good home from a group builder. This week I talk with someone who's doing just that and her explains how.

Direct download: 92_A_Good_Group_Home.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:54am NZST

Glenn Murdoch was a regular house designer until he watched Simon Sinek's TED talk. Then Glenn asked 'why'? In this week's show we talk Passive House and how to architecture can create a better society.

Direct download: 91_Vicus_Design.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:26am NZST

Duncan Firth feels 'compelled' to do what he does - designing environmentally functional homes. How can architecture truly respond to the environment?

Direct download: 90_Solarei_Designing_Environmental_Functional_Homes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:30am NZST

Homestar is New Zealand's comprehensive environmental rating tool for homes. It's Green Star for the residential sector and is not some crazy Kiwi start up idea. It's very closely related to successful international precedents such as LEED and Code for Sustainable Homes. But how much does it add to the cost of building a home? 

There are some inaccuracies out there that I think need addressing. 

Direct download: 89_How_Much_Does_Homestar_Cost.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:11am NZST

Something a little different this week. I’ve had some excellent questions sitting in my inbox for a while and I thought that many could benefit from them. In this Q&A session I cover Homestar, thermal mass, heating and cooling options and small, affordable home design. 

Direct download: 88_Q__A.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:28pm NZST

Do you need a professional project manager for either the design stage or the construction stage of your building project? I discuss the basics of good project management with podcaster, engineer, business owner and soon-to-be author, Cesar Abeid. 

Direct download: 87_Project_Management.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:07am NZST

Eaves are the classic case of form following function. In this podcast I lay out my three key reasons for having them, but a key question is, 'how big should eaves be?'

Direct download: 86_Eaves_-_How_big_should_they_be.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:01pm NZST

Resilience and sustainability are different. Sustainability feels more long term to me. It's about using resources wisely with future generations in mind. Resilience is more about weathering the storm. There is an overlap and so both are important.

If being resilient encourages people to invest in rainwater harvesting and solar panels with battery backup, thereby also being more sustainable, then surely that's a good thing for everyone. 

Is one more important than the other, or can resilience be a really handy way of selling sustainability?

Plus, my top five tips for having a resilient home. 

Direct download: 85_Sustainability_vs_Resilience.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:13pm NZST

Over the last few years, I've developed this model for good home design: Map, wrap, gaps, taps and apps. 

Find out more at: http://homestylegreen.com/84

Direct download: 84_Map_Wrap_Gaps_Taps_Apps.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:54pm NZST

Most of us are familiar with leaky buildings - the perfect storm of poor design, poor cladding systems and poor workmanship, culminating in allowing rain to get in. Now we've moved on and have cavities, more stringent weather-tightness checks and hopefully we like eaves again.

So what's leaky buildings 2.0? If we've dealt to the risk of moisture coming in from the outside, where else can moisture come from?


Direct download: 83_Leaky_Buildings_2.0.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:57pm NZST

Natalie Cutler-Welsh spends some of her time helping small business owners who are just getting started with social media. This can be a daunting task yet important step for your business. I wanted to get some tips for building professionals on the 'why' and 'how to' of basic social media. 

This week, we look at Facebook and LinkedIn



Direct download: 82_Getting_Started_with_Social_Media.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:58am NZST

Ian McHugh's specialisations include Code for Sustainable Homes Assessor, and 'Eco-Refurbisher'. I want to know how good designers and architects can do more work involving energy efficient, sustainable, eco buildings. As a building professional, how can you get more of this type of work?

Also, we discuss Ian's mass customisation 'IKEA-style' concept for climate adaption, the IDEAhaus.


Direct download: 81_Designing_for_a_Changing_Climate.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:00am NZST

What's earth building and why is it just as relevant today as it has been for centuries? Can you get it wet, and can you get a consent for it? These are just a couple of the questions I ask Verena Maeder, chair of the Earth Building Association of New Zealand and owner or Solid Earth. 


Direct download: 80_Earth_Building.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:39am NZST

The BRANZ House Insulation Guide Fifth Edition includes waffle pod slab systems, and a concrete slab edge insulation update. I review the options.

Direct download: 79_Concrete_Slab_Edge_Insulation_Update.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:51pm NZST

Lesley England knows how to design eco friendly homes and importantly for her, she knows how to attract the right clients who want her to design eco friendly homes. It's all in the name - ecohabitats.

Three key factors for designing eco friendly homes are:

  1. Size
  2. Orientation
  3. Materials

Find out more at http://homestylegreen.com/78

Direct download: 78_Ecohabitats_with_Lesley_England.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:36am NZST

What exactly is uPVC and is it a good option for window frames? I speak with Oleg Tolmachev of www.warmwindows.co.nz to find out if uPVC windows are a good fit for New Zealand conditions. 

Direct download: 77_What_is_uPVC.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:08pm NZST

Mark experienced his own building project as a client in 2004 and recognised the need for better information. He was handed a copy of the Building Guide from the local Council. 

The Building Guide was a different publication then and Mark saw potential for how it could help prospective homeowners get better information. So in 2006, Mark Graham bought the magazine. 

He explains to me why he hated advertising - the very industry he worked in for 14 years, and how he now relies on it. What's the difference?

Direct download: 76_Building_Guide.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:51pm NZST

What's self-help housing and why is it important?

Canopy Housing Project is a self-help housing organisation based in Leeds, U.K., creating decent homes by renovating derelict ones. Steve Hoey has been running Canopy Housing for the last six years and I asked him why he does what he does. 

Also in this episode, the five essentials of self-help housing and Steve's great book recommendation.


Direct download: 75_Self_Help_Housing.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:33am NZST

Would you buy a prefabricated, modular home made in China?

Ecotech Homes are versatile, modular housing solutions. I caught up with their Major Project Director, Craig Nisbet just before he took off to Ghana to talk about prefabricated, affordable, quality homes.

I found out there are some good reasons to consider factory built, modular homes.

Direct download: 74_Ecotech_Homes.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:12am NZST

'Affordable housing' is a term that's often misused to describe only the purchase price of a house. But to be truly affordable, the total cost of living in that house needs to be considered, including commuting, power bills and other utilities, maintenance and even health.

Daiman Otto understands that affordable housing means more than just supplying houses cheaply.

Daiman's involved in a number of exciting projects and he explains them much better than I could, so click on the links below to find out more:

  • CABA: Beautiful, affordable architecture
  • ARKit: Advanced prefabricated architecture
  • Analogue Structures: prefab Skunk Works combining resource efficiency, open source, micro-buildings, 3D & CNC technology and entrepreneurship
  • DKOtto.com
Direct download: 73_Affordable_Housing__Prefab_with_Daimon_Otto.mp3
Category:Prefab -- posted at: 9:59pm NZST

Jessica Eyers is a passionate advocate for sustainable, green design. As I discovered during this interview, Jessica is also really interested in the science of green building and understanding what works and what doesn't work.

For more, go to http://homestylegreen.com/72

Direct download: 72_Green_Building_Design.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:40pm NZST

Jennifer Crawford used to sell houses, now she helps people to buy the house that they really want. What's the difference? Listen in to find out!

If you're in New Zealand, you can find a Homestar Homecoach here: http://www.homestar.org.nz/the-journey/homecoach

If you want help with your new home, get in touch and I'll see if I can point you in the right direction. 

Direct download: 71_Our_New_Homecoach.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:25pm NZST

How to do the type of design work you want, from where you want. Duncan Sinclair is the founder of Black Pine Architects. His practice and his home are in Whanganui, but thanks to the internet, his work can be anywhere.



Direct download: 70_Black_Pine_Architects_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:50am NZST

Dan Heyworth is on a mission to improve the range and quality of houses available to New Zealanders. 

After returning to New Zealand from UK a few years ago, Dan realised there are really only two main options for getting a house built, either going to a building company for a cheaper, mainstream house; or going to an architect for an expensive one. 

Box Living is both an architectural firm and a building company. Dan and his team are passionate about bringing the benefits of architecturally designed homes, to everyone. 


Direct download: 69_Box_Living.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:51pm NZST

An article about a couple of energy efficient homes in New Zealand caught my attention recently. I decided to look up the owners of one and Ron was very generous with his time. I was also grateful to be able to record our conversation so I could share the learning and successes with you. 

If you'd like advice or recommendations on your future home, please get in touch. I'd love to help. 

Link: http://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/features/lifestyle/going-green/9978533/Green-home-design-has-it-all

Get your plans reviewed:


Direct download: 68_Sustainable_Home_Success_Story.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm NZST

Nudura is a brand of Insulated Concrete Forms, which as CEO Murray Snider describes, is like giant Lego blocks. When the polystyrene pieces are slotted together and then concrete poured into the central cavity, creating airtight walls, the resulting comfort and thermal performance is impressive. 

Murray was recently visiting New Zealand from his home in Canada and I took the opportunity to find out more about ICF and Nudura. 

For more, visit 


To get in touch with Nudura directly here in New Zealand, contact Chevy Chisholm 

email: chevy.chisholm@me.com

phone: 021 766 117

Direct download: 67_Nudura_Insulated_Concrete_Forms.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:37pm NZST

Sustainability Options is an 'altruistic business'. Find out how they contribute 85% of their profit back to the community, provide free home assessments that save households between 10% and 30% on their power bills, and their recent campaign to help one family in need. 

Direct download: 66_Sustainability_Options_with_Phil_Gregg.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:52am NZST

In this weeks show, I discuss the evidence that there is monetary value in getting a rating for your home. 


  • http://www.usgbc.org/sites/default/files/ValueofGreenHomeLabelsStudy_July2012.pdf
  • http://www.nathers.gov.au/about/publications/pubs/eer-house-price-act.pdf
  • http://besthome.org.nz/showhome.html
  • http://www.homestar.org.nz/newsroom/value-and-affordability-homestar

Related Episode:

Home Style Green Episode 21: https://itunes.apple.com/nz/podcast/21-upcoming-events-red-tape/id513213105?i=134294625&mt=2

Direct download: 65_The_Value_of_Rating_Your_Home.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:08pm NZST

What comes to mind when you hear the term ‘cohousing’. For many, there many be some negative connotations. The reality though is that there are so many advantages to sharing some things with your neighbours, while still maintaining a strong sense of privacy and your own space. 

Robin Allison trained as an architect in order to help create a more sustainable future. She ended up initiating what was to be become Earthsong Eco-Neigbourhood. 

To connect with Robin, go to: http://robinallison.co.nz/

Be sure to check out: http://www.earthsong.org.nz/

Book Recommendation: Pocket Neighborhoods: Creating Small-Scale Community in a Large-Scale World http://amzn.to/1hB3xtL

Related sites:

House Planning Help Episode 28, How Co-Housing Helps Build a Community: http://www.houseplanninghelp.com/hph028-how-cohousing-helps-build-a-community-with-mark-westcombe-from-lancaster-cohousing/

Gilo Holtzman of Synthesis Studio: http://synthesisstudio.org/about/


Direct download: 64_The_Benefits_of_Cohousing.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:28pm NZST

What other form of heating provides a coefficient of performance, around 5 - 7? That’s the promise, and the reality of ground source heat pump technology.

This week I spoke to Senior Hydrogeologist at Geoscience Consulting NZ, Huw Williams about this amazing technology. We discuss if it’s suitable for houses in New Zealand and why Huw is so interested in ground source heat pumps as a sustainable technology. 


Direct download: 63_Ground_Source_Heat_Pumps_with_Huw_Williams.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:12pm NZST

The key characteristics that Jo and Shay were after when they designed and built the Zero Energy House were:

  1. Comfort and Health
  2. Affordability - of building AND operating
  3. Inspiration 

We also discuss some of the specific features that have made it possible to bring these characteristics to life. 

For more, check out http://zeroenergyhouse.co.nz/

Direct download: 62_Zero_Energy_House.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:01pm NZST

Ben Adam-Smith discusses EcoBuild 2014, what makes an energy efficient house, constraints versus compromise, new versus retrofit, why houses don't use energy, and population growth. 

Also, find out why Ben hasn't had a bath for a year!


  • http://www.houseplanninghelp.com/
  • https://www.thesnippetapp.com/web/writers/benadam-smith
  • http://www.ecobuild.co.uk/
Direct download: 61_EcoBuild__Update_from_Ben_Adam-Smith.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:37pm NZST

Louisa Chase is the Project Manager for EcoFest 2014. The festival runs from March 15th through to April 13th and has everything from films, to gardening and composting seminars, eco-house tours and even a sustainable fashion show. 

We discuss why Kaipatiki exists, the difference one person can make, and ‘Nana Technologies’. 

For more, be sure to check out http://kaipatiki.org.nz/ecofest/ and http://www.ecomatters.org.nz/what-s-on/ecowest-festival-2014/

Thanks to DOC for the dawn chorus on this week’s show. To listen to this, and other native New Zealand birds, go to:



Also mentioned this week:

  • Zero Energy House (coming up): http://zeroenergyhouse.co.nz/
  • Ecobuild: http://www.ecobuild.co.uk/ 
Direct download: 60_Ecofest_with_Louisa_Chase.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:34pm NZST

Adrian Feasey is a solar consultant, so he knows a thing or two about energy efficiency. Why then would he purchase a 1960s, weatherboard house with no insulation and begin a renovation project to try and make it warm, comfortable and cost effective? 

Adrian is showcasing his house as part of an eco-house tour in the upcoming Kaipatiki Ecofest. 

Ecofest Website:


Ecofest House Tour:


Adrian Feasey on LinkedIn


Adrian’s Book Recommendation:


The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience, http://amzn.to/1pwJvIo

Direct download: 59_Starting_a_Home_Renovation_with_Adrian_Feasey.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:35am NZST

James L. Salmon is the President of Collaborative Construction, an organisation created to encourage a better way of building. After spending much of his legal career helping sort out disputes between building owners, contractors and suppliers, James is convinced there's a much better way of organising, communicating and conducting the design, procurement and building processes. 

Direct download: 58_Collaborative_Construction_with_James_Salmon.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:23pm NZST

I caught up this week with Lois Easton from Beacon Pathway. Lois is one of the organisers for the 'Building a Better New Zealand' conference coming up in September. 

Submissions for abstracts is open until March 9th, so if you're interested, check out their website for more details.


Also in this week's show:

Direct download: 57_Building_a_Better_New_Zealand_with_Lois_Easton.mp3
Category:Building -- posted at: 10:50pm NZST

What is the IDEAL House, and how will everyone soon be able to see it? I talk with owner, Murray Durbin and he shares his inspiration and discusses some of the features that make this house special. We also talk numbers!

For more, visit: http://idealhouse.org

Direct download: 56_iDEAL_House_with_Murray_Durbin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:42pm NZST

Direct download: 55_A_DIY_Project.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:56pm NZST