Social housing, re-imagined

This analysis from The NewStatesman, comparing Vienna’s tradition of social housing to the UK, is a concise and insightful account and I recommend you go and read it in its entirety. Vienna’s accomplishments are enough to make millenials shut out of the home ownership in New Zealand weep. For all of us, it’s a stark reminder that there are other …

City Council: we will build 500 PH units in 5 years

More Passive House units have been completed in Exeter in the United Kingdom: what a start to the new year for the lucky social housing tenants who are moving in and what an example New Zealand could follow. Exeter is a small city in Devon, in the southwest of England, which has established a big reputation for Passive House development. …

Social housing can be very good and not cost more (it’s proven)

The first time you do something, it takes longer. If you’re paying staff to do it, it costs more again. If you import just one new building component and you have to explain to Building Code officials why it’s so very much better than the crap considered an Acceptable Solution and how they should allow your project to include it, …

New government serious about ‘wood first’

I’ve heard (unofficial) news out of Wellington suggesting the new government is serious about a ‘wood first’ procurement policy for government buildings. Stand by for an official announcement. It can only help to have a Minister of Forestry who actually has forestry qualifications: the sort you get from the School of Forestry but also the ones learned (a long while …

Wellington worst place for damp, mouldy housing

If you missed this in-depth Stuff article, it’s worth reviewing: Infometrics senior economist Brad Olsen used the latest census data to find where in New Zealand, on average, has the most mouldy, damp houses with no heating. And the “winner” of this not-coveted title? Wellington. Mould impacts health and wellbeing. Myself, I know my asthma is definitely enhanced by it. …

Toward net-zero building: put this paper on your reading list

Advances Toward a Net-Zero Global Building Sector is a BIG tech paper, happily published with open access so people outside of academic institutions can actually read it. See below for the abstract and a link to the paper. New Zealand is well represented in the paper’s database due to our Passive House buildings. The following items are worth paying particular …

Small improvements are not enough

Rochelle Ade’s doctoral research findings have had quite a bit of media attention in recent weeks. Not surprising, given her claim that Homestar ratings aren’t delivering what they claim (and that the rating tool may be breaching the Fair Trading Act). Effectively, Ade measured the temperature and relative humidity of 30 homes in Auckland: those built according to the current …

Retrofit alert: know when fire-rated components are called for

Fire rating of the building/windows is not something we usually need to worry about in new, detached single-family homes, as the clearance to the property boundaries is sufficient. But during retrofits—especially ones that involve a change of use—fire regulations can have a big impact. It’s best to avoid the need for fire-rated windows as they are big money and poor …

Local MVHR only 40% efficient, says BRANZ test

We go to great lengths to maintain the certified level of MVHR efficiency in the high-performance building projects we consult on. We recommend or specify cross-counter flow heat exchangers with well insulated boxes, short exterior air ducts (also well insulated) and semi-rigid or rigid distribution ducting inside the thermal envelope; with all that, projects often achieve 80-90% overall efficiency (ie …