Kāinga Ora will drive Passive House uptake across the whole building sector

Kāinga Ora’s announcement of its first Passive House pilot project, the 18-unit Bader Ventura apartment building in Mangere, Auckland, is receiving a lot of attention with stories running across national media*.  Jason Quinn believes this project will provide world leading social housing quality. But he says the more significant achievement is Kāinga Ora’s carbon continuum commitment, which lays out the …

‘Worlds Apart’ graphic depicts future pathways

I spend most of my waking hours focused on improving the performance of the buildings: for the sake of the humans who live, work and play within them and for the future of the planet they stand on. It wasn’t easy walking through this with my son this morning, but it felt important. And a way to explain why I …

Breaking news: Warmer, healthier homes are worth more

This recent Stuff story was a pretty well-considered look at whether improvements in thermal performance influence sale prices. I’ve covered this ground before, in my book and in this blog post, looking at whether Passive House certification will increase a building’s value. There’s still no rigorous data for New Zealand and so we use as a proxy the data from …

NZIA adds weight to call for better Building Code

In this high-profile recent opinion piece, Marcus Hogan (professional practice director at Te Kāhui Whaihanga New Zealand Institute of Architects), points out that even new homes built to meet the Building Code in New Zealand are not good enough. He writes, “The government knew, more than 80 years ago, that there was mould in the ceilings and walls of over …

The take-back effect

Folks are illogical. Including me. I think a fizzy drink should cost about $1 and don’t want to pay more—but $5 for a coffee is alright. Weird. Well it turns out we do the same sort of allocation of money even when we can (or can’t) afford to spend more. An excellent example is that folks spend what they think …

Passive House performance would fix the dry winter energy problem

The stumbling block to a fully renewable energy grid in New Zealand is what to do in a dry winter, when electrical demand peaks but there’s not enough water in the hydro dams. Last year it was touch-and-go and there was even talk of energy conservation being enforced. And that is with the big coal-burning Huntly power station still churning …

Health burden of cold damp houses costs millions every year

I’ve often wondered in the past exactly what percentage of New Zealand’s health burden is due to our damp and cold homes. Well I obviously didn’t look in the right place. PHINZ chair Elrond Burrell last month linked to a short 2011 study that provides the exact numbers I’ve been looking for. An article by Brad Prezant titled “Calculating the …

Lessons from failed UK retrofit programmes

This excellent top-level round-up of multiple UK retrofit programmes sadly reveals how many were really poorly done. The most recent was a politically driven voucher system that lasted less than a year. Bottom line? 1. Focus on the building thermal envelope and design stage overall energy model (ie take a holistic whole dwelling retrofit approach). 2. Ignoring the tricky bits …

Ireland nails affordable Passive House

They won’t win points for style, but these semi-detached, two-storey Irish homes fit seamlessly amongst their neighbours. This is a very familiar UK building style, now made better: both Passive House and affordable. The builder and architects’ depth of experience with Passive House was clearly key, according to an in-depth article by Passive House + magazine. The goal of affordability …