Keith Huntington of EcoRate Ltd is a registered architect involved in passive solar design and the objective analysis of buildings using thermal simulation modelling.
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At present MBIE is considering extending the transition period for the implementation of the insulation requirements of the 5th Edition of NZBC clause H1 (Energy Efficiency) so as to allow industry more time to ready the supply chain. Perhaps this time could also be productively used to re-visit the Acceptable Solution minimum construction R-values requirements for the perimeter of roofs to consider if they make sense when the principles of heat transfer are applied.
Aside from the, (continually and largely ignored), urgent warnings from climate scientists, the current rapid and dramatic changing political upheaval in Europe has caused society to finally face the reality of, and need for, swift and fundamental changes to the usage, sources and security of its existing energy supplies.
With a growing proportion of our new housing being constructed as medium-density dwellings, this former niche market is rapidly expanding to take in purchasers and occupiers whose primary experience is with the standalone residences they grew up in. This new form of living brings with it a need for a significant degree of re-setting of expectations, both desirable and undesirable.
Following on from last month’s general thoughts, I consider that there is an urgent need, as an important part of adapting for the future, for the building industry to go back to basics and revaluate the unquestioned assumptions upon which standard design and construction solutions were originally derived from.
While Climate Change is now accepted by most people, the solutions are not as simple as just giving everyone the symbolic electric car or bicycle. As the TV advert advises, “Good Things Take Time”, but also innovative forward planning is essential.
For some time now, it has become settled that there is sense in planning for a future where photovoltaic (PV) panels will become a standard feature for new homes and major renovations, even though many owners are not prepared to install them ‘next week’.
Because of their high thermal mass, the thermal insulation of concrete and concrete block walls in dwellings needs to be treated quite differently to those with lightweight framed or panel walls.
The recently released Climate Change Commission’s draft report for public consultation speaks of the need to reduce the domestic use of natural gas and LPG. This, and the inevitable depletion of the resource, will need to influence the way we design the water heating systems for our dwellings.
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