Home Style Green - Sustainable Design and Building (general)

New Zealand Centre for Sustainable Cities are hosting a launch event on 20th August 2013 in Wellington for the book 'Homes People Can Afford"

The book was put together by Sarah Bierre, Philippa Howden-Chapman and Lisa Early from He Kainga Oranga, the Housing and Health Research Programme.

I discussed with Sarah, why they wrote the book, what housing affordability actually means and why it's important. 

Reference

The Poetics of Space

Direct download: Homes_People_can_Afford.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:47am NZDT

Danny Squires and Martin Luff met on Twitter, were inspired by a TEDex video and have since co-founded WikiHouse NZ. With this project, they're setting out to change the world and to 'make things better' by design. 

Links:

  • WikiHouse NZ Website: http://spacecraft.co.nz/
  • TV3 News item: http://www.3news.co.nz/Chch-developers-plan-jigsaw-puzzle-house/tabid/423/articleID/307657/Default.aspx
  • http://blog.ted.com/2013/05/23/how-to-print-out-your-own-house/

Supporters:

  • http://www.health2000.co.nz/
  • http://www.madeonjupiter.com/
  • http://www.pfc.co.nz/
  • http://www.jnl.co.nz/
  • http://www.massey.ac.nz/massey/about-massey/news/article.cfm?mnarticle=fab-lab-wellington-officially-opened-28-08-2012

Direct download: 44_How_to_Make_Things_Better_with_WikiHouse_NZ.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:36pm NZDT

Lisa Madarasz was frustrated by not being able to find good products for her home that were going to be good for her family and good for the planet. (Does that sound familiar?)

With so much 'eco' marketing out there, how can you tell what's truly green?

To help, Lisa created Ecodeals.co.nz

links:

  • http://www.ecodeals.co.nz
  • https://www.facebook.com/ecodeals
  • http://www.environmentalchoice.org.nz/
  • http://www.unpackit.org.nz/
  • http://greenideas.co.nz/products-page/subscription/new-subscription/
Direct download: 41_Save_Time._Save_Money._Save_the_Planet._Ecodeals_with_Lisa_Madarasz.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm NZDT

What's a "Building Whisperer"?

David Bartlett leads the IBM’s Smarter Buildings initiative, helping clients create more green, cost-efficient cities, campuses, corporate offices, commercial sites, casinos, hospitals and neighborhoods worldwide.  As IBM’s “Building Whisperer,” he is a vocal advocate at industry events and in media for using data analysis to better control buildings’ function and tame wasteful energy practices.

Links mentioned in today's show:

Direct download: 40_Building_Whisperer_David_Bartlett.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:10pm NZDT

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 NZDT

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 NZDT

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 NZDT

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 NZDT

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 NZDT

27: House Planning Help with Ben Adam-Smith

A few weeks ago now, I got up at 5 am to interview Ben, who lives in Hertfordshire in the UK. Ben has a blog and podcast called HousePlanningHelp.com and he shared with me his motivation, vision and plans for learning to build a good home in the UK. 

Listen in to find out what we have in common with people building and renovating houses on the other side of the world. What are some of the biggest issues for housing in the UK and how is it similar or different to NZ? And why should we all be following Wolfgang Feist?

Ben's own very good blog site can be found at: http://www.houseplanninghelp.com

You can also find Ben all over the web:

Resources that Ben mentioned

The Sustainable Building Association: http://www.aecb.net/

Professor Wolfgang Feist:

Direct download: 27_House_Planning_Help_Ben_Adam_Smith.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:13pm NZDT

Last week I had the priviledge to attend some of the sessions at the Green Property Summit, jointly hosted by NZGBC and the Property Council. 

A highlight for me was Wade Lange, Director of the Lloyd Ecodistrict in Portland, Oregon. 

Later in the week, while in Christchurch, I attended a great lecture by Associate Professor Susan Krumdeik. Aside from being fun to go back to my old University at Canterbury, this was an inspiring lecture, with some great similarities to the vision that has now become a reality in Portland.

The main event in Christchurch was of course, the rebuld and renovate show. This week I report on my interview with Lifemark and Metro Glasstech.


Monique Alfris and her team sell solar powered lights to people in India. She does this through an organisation called Pollinate Energy, which Monique co-founded in 2012. 

I was inspired by Monique's story after hearing her presentation at the recent Green Cities conference in Sydney, Australia. I really wanted to ask Monique about why Pollinate Energy was created and to see what learning might be applied to housing in Australia and New Zealand.

Also in this week's show:

Big shout out to JMore36. Thanks very much for your iTunes review! Love it.

Matthew Cutler-Welsh

comments@homestylegreen.com

Direct download: 24_Pollinate_Energy_-_Monique_Alfris.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:39am NZDT

Sian Taylor trained to be an architect in Cardiff, Wales. When she arrived here in New Zealand, like many others who have experienced homes in colder climates,  Sian was pretty appalled at the state of New Zealand houses.

Since then Sian has gained experience working in prestigious firms such as Warren and Mahoney Architects and joined Queenstown firm, Green Being in March 2012. Sian has been heavily involved in a number of Passive House projects in and around Queenstown.

Demand for high performing homes has grown rapidly and now Sian and her own team of dedicated architects have formed the specialist practice, Team Green Architects. 

At the time of publishing, Team Green is still awaiting their website, but you can find Sian through Green Being. http://greenbeing.co.nz/2013/03/architecture-spreads-its-wings/

In this interview, Sian discusses, among other things, how it's easy to justify spending a bit more up front, on the things that really matter. In some cases, houses they design in Queenstown may require only as little as 10% of the heating cost of a regular (code compliant) house of the same size. This adds up to huge electricity savings right from year 1 of living in the home. 

A couple of references from Sian include:

  • The Lorax, by Dr Zeuss, Click here for Amazon link.
  • Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn, Click here for Amazon link.
Direct download: 23_Sian_Taylor_-_Being_a_Green_Architect.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:26pm NZDT

21 Upcoming Events Red Tape and the Value of Being Green

I'm a sustainable homes expert and I want to create healthy, efficient homes that don't cost the Earth.

This week, I answer a couple of listener questions about the cost effectiveness and red tape associated with building green. 

Following up on last week, I also discuss if concrete slab edge insulation is important in a hot climate for keeping cool.

Upcoming events mentioned in the show:

You can find me at:

Thanks to James Schramko over at Superfastbusiness.com for recommending Auphonic. I've tried it out this week with this episode. Can you tell the difference?

Direct download: 21_Upcoming_Events_Red_Tape_and_the_Value_of_Being_Green.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:36pm NZDT

Ingo Ratsdorf is a registered architect with Babbage Consultants based in Auckland. 

Having grown up and been trained in Germany, Ingo is very aware of how poorly most New Zealand homes stack up against international standards. 

When Ingo and his family were hunting for their dream renovation project, they were continually overwhelmed with the size of the job they saw. It seemed each house they looked at would need far too much work to bring up to a level of quality and comfort that would satisfy them. 

And so it was that they ultimately realised they would have to build from scratch.

Listen in to our conversation as Ingo explains the inspiration and challenges of building and completing (almost) their dream in Riverhead.

He shares some sound advice for anyone looking at start a building project. 

This podcast is best accompanied by a great slideshow of the build available here on slideshare:

http://www.slideshare.net/IngoRatsdorf/riverhead-passive-solar-design-house

I hope this finished product will be an inspiration for your project!

The inspiring  book Ingo referred to and which I also highly recommend for anyone interested in design, 'Cradle to Cradle' can be found here: http://amzn.to/VVbBBr

Direct download: 19_Riverhead_passive_solar_design_house.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:42pm NZDT

Eion Scott is an Eco Design Advisor with the Auckland Council. Eco Design Advisors around the country offer free, in home, independent advice on how to improve the warmth, health and comfort of your home. 

For more information go to the Eco Design Advisor website. 

Direct download: 15_Who_do_you_call_for_free_eco_advice.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:24pm NZDT

I was lucky enough to first meet Carlin Archer in Chrstchurch a few years ago.

Carlin was interested in building an 'ecohome', but didn't know the first thing about building houses. He did know a lot about building websites thought. So he and his brother sat down and reated Ecobob.co.nz

Direct download: 10_Carlin_Archer_Ecobob.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:49pm NZDT

After insulation, heating is the next thing most people look at when improving the comfort and warmth of their home. 

In this episode of Home Style Green, I discuss room heaters:

  • Standared electric heating: electric fan heaters, bar radiators, oil column, wall panel etc
  • Gas unflued heating: And why you should never use it!
  • Flued gas heating
  • Heat pumps or reverse cycle air conditioning

In the episode I refer to the 'carnot cycle'. This is the awesome thermodynamic principle behind air conditioning and refrigeration. Refer again to our trusty Wikipedia for a good article about the detailed physics:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnot_cycle

Of course the best form of heating is free from the sun. But making the most of passive solar heating is a design challenge and there's usually not a lot that can be done to improve this once a house is built.

So if you're trying to heat an existing, cold home, what's the best option?

Direct download: 004_HSG_Heating.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:21am NZDT

In part 2 of this insulation introduction, I discuss the main types of insulation used for ceilings, floors and wall. 

For more information about insulation materials, check out Level.org.nz from BRANZ:

http://www.level.org.nz/fileadmin/downloads/Materials/LevelMInsul.pdf

For more on the properties of wool, including great microscopic imagery, check out:

http://www.biotechlearn.org.nz/focus_stories/wool_innovations/wool_fibre_properties

and

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wool_insulation

Direct download: 003_Home_Style_Green.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:55pm NZDT

In this episode of Home Style Green, I discuss the basic physics of insualation. I give an overview of the three main types of heat transfer, that is conduction, convection and radiation. Most bulk insulation products on the market rely almost entirely on reducing conduction. 

I discuss what 'R-Value' means and the common materials of household insulation products. 

For more information, visit our site at: 

http://www.homestylegreen.com

Also, for a more indepth discussion on insulation and 'R-Values', its hard to go past Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R-value_(insulation)

Direct download: 002_Home_Style_Green_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:45pm NZDT

Welcome to Episode 1 of Home Style Green, the podcast about how to live a healthy and happy lifestyle without it costing the Earth.

I'm Matthew Cutler-Welsh: Engineer, Dad, Homeowner and someone who's passionate about making urban environments more sustainable. 

This is my first podcast and my objective is to share ideas about building green homes, with style. 

Links in today's cast include:

  • The Home Style Green website: http://homestylegreen.com
  • EECA Energywise: http://www.energywise.govt.nz/
Direct download: 001HomeStyleGreen.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:42pm NZDT