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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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.
With New Zealand’s commitment to Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050, the built infrastructure sector of the economy will have a significant part to play if the target is to be met. The Residential Tenancies (Healthy Homes Standards) Regulations 2019 illustrates the need for lateral thinking.
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