First, use less energy: #EfficiencyFirst!

The International Passive House Association (iPHA) has launched a campaign called #EfficiencyFirst! It makes the case for focusing on energy efficiency first, before increasing renewable energy. This makes sense from an engineering and physics point, but I worry it’s a hard sell. Folks are used to buying what they need and having something to show for it. Trying to convince …

The Building Code is a minimum, not a quality mark!

I’ve had clients call me with issues but then tell me, “the salesperson said it met Building Code”, as if that means something. All it means is the developer wasn’t allowed to build it any worse. This quote from the latest BRANZ Guideline newsletter (Feb 2021) comes with emphasis added by me: “The Building Code is not a quality mark …

Mechanical ventilation everywhere: not just high-performance buildings

Well-built high-performance buildings need mechanical ventilation. Times have changed, nobody’s really arguing about this any more. But all the other homes built in the last 50 years need mechanical ventilation also—those that only just met the Building Code minimum standards of their day. They’re not airtight (many of them are horribly draughty) but they still need proper ventilation. How do …

Don’t get scammed

Recently my son asked me if I’d ever been scanned. (He was really interested, which is becoming less common when I’m speaking now he’s 12.) At first I couldn’t think of any instances. However, over the next week I built up a pretty big list and generated quite a bit of entertainment for my son. The first question is, what …

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, …