Taking the Passive House story to the people

How do we (“we” being those who care about high-performance buildings and all the benefits they deliver to people and the environment) bring about the change we want to see?   There are multiple pathways and we need to push ahead on all of them at once. One of course is government policy. One bright spot in 2020 was seeing …

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. …

A builder’s perspective on warm, dry, energy-efficient homes

Last year, a builder in the South Island called up Jason Quinn, Sustainable Engineering’s founding director, and asked to interview him. Much later, a story showed up on Achipro. It rambles a bit but has some good anecdotes and a punchy opening proposition: “The main stumbling block [to building a home that is genuinely warm, dry and energy-efficient], as primitive …

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 …

Passivhaus In Australia book now available

If you haven’t yet downloaded and read the excellent book produced by APHA, Passivhaus in Australia, I highly recommend it. Although New Zealand had a head start over Australia on Passive House design and construction, the Aussies have now clearly surged to the lead with their large complex projects. School classrooms, student accommodation and a high-end apartment building have all …

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 …

Interior condensation should be expelled from school

If Leaky Buildings 1.0 was about rain getting in where it shouldn’t, then Leaky Buildings 2.0 is all about the build-up of condensation, such that it feels like it’s raining inside. Building physics knows how to build schools that stay dry inside. But here we have another school with a roof that drips on the kids inside due to interior …