Earlier in the month (May 2017), I attended the annual Eco Design Advisors conference in Wellington and found it to be a useful two days. The conference was titled 'Stepping Up to a Healthier Home'. These conferences are arranged by the Eco Design Advisor Service and gather speakers on a variety of subjects relating to healthy homes, sustainability and efficient energy usage, and design, all with the aim of improving housing standards.
This year nearly one hundred delegates attended the conference and these included architects, academics, health researchers, scientists, and industry representatives. The speakers covered topics ranging from:
- New approaches to the delivery of well designed housing
- Research on the health implications of building design, building usage, and plastics in buildings
- The economics of home energy usage and appliances
- Effective construction of building elements
- The quality of the current and future housing stock
- A case study of a house renovation with an emphasis on improving thermal performance
The wide-reaching approach of the conference enabled a coming together of people who normally do not meet, resulting in a valuable mingling of knowledge and a healthy exchange of views and opinions. I have been to several past conferences, and if they continue the growth and breadth shown so far they will become an important component in the development of a much improved future housing stock.
The Eco Design Advisor service is available through nine councils across the country. These are Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Kapiti, Hutt City and Upper Hutt, Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin. Hopefully there will be more in the future. The service "provides independent advice, at no charge, on how to best use energy, water and materials on home improvement, building and renovation projects, to ensure better use is made of resources." Although aimed at the homeowner, the advisors also are happy to discuss projects with building professionals at the design stage. When renovations are being planned for existing homes a site visit can be made. The two hours of free advice is a significant contribution to educating the public, and improving the quality of their built environment.