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12 | Hibiscusmatters 15 August 2012

S u s ta i n a b l e s o lu t i o n s f e at u r e


Sustainable homes built to stand the test of time Interest in sustainable building is growing in NZ, according to two companies who specialise in this type of construction, although the extra up front cost is a significant factor. Malcolm McAll of Ecos Homes, whose company is based in Whangaparaoa and has several building projects on the go locally, expects to see a dramatic increase in people opting for sustainability in the next few years as people become better informed. “Sustainable housing costs more initially and bearing in mind that NZ houses are some of the cheapest built in the world, that is not surprising,” Malcolm says. “However, for around 30 percent extra cost you can get a building that will last three times longer, require very little heating, have no power bills, keep you healthy and be a legacy to successive generations. Trying to build cheaply lead to leaky buildings and is false economy.” David Wildish of Ebode – the Auckland-based company behind the eco-development Matakana Green and several homes on the Coast – agrees, although he says the difference in cost is in the vicinity of 10–20 percent.

Solar panels on an Ecos home.

He says the extra cost comes from thicker walls with more insulation and usually higher grade materials to ensure longevity and that the costs will decrease as relatively new technologies like photovoltaic power become more efficient. David says evaluating which materials are truly sustainable is a complex process, reliant not only on the source of the material, but also its longevity, health effects and end of life disposal. “A polystyrene cup, for example, used for 10 minutes then consigned to landfill is not sustainable – however steam blown polystrene used to

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A home designed by Ebode.

insulate the concrete slab of a building is a pragmatic use of an efficient material and could be here for hundreds of years,” he says. For Malcolm, sustainable materials can be natural – such as stone, untreated timber, mud brick or clay tiles – or any material that can be reused or recycled as well as those that don’t have a detrimental effect on health. “Even concrete can be considered sustainable as it has good heat retention, as long as the building is designed to last,” he says. He says one of Ecos Homes philosophies is to “build strong”, even

if it means sacrificing floor area. “Smaller, better designed buildings are the way to go.”

Sustainable features

• Build north facing and avoid flood prone areas • Good design so there are not large wasted spaces to heat and maintain • Insulation – including double glazing and draft proofing • Passive solar design, including heating, cooling and ventilation • Use of sustainable, healthy materials • Choice of designer and builder with experience in sustainable housing.


A major fundraiser for the Tamaki Sports Academy is the free metal collection service it offers. We will pick up any old metal – whiteware such as fridges, stoves, dishwashers, washing machines – roofing iron, metal piping, venetion blinds, computers, batteries, car panels, cars, metal shelving, filing cabinets, machinery, lawnmowers, engines and so on. Tamaki Sports Academy offers mentoring, coaching, and work experience to South Auckland youth who have dropped out of the mainstream school system, but who show some sporting talent. Academy members are enrolled in the Correspondence School and work towards unit standard credits and national qualifications.

Phone 09 276 0328

Hibiscusmatters 15 August 2012 | 13

Green scene

Screened topsoil

with Teresa Moore

Supplies and deliveries

Solar powered Auckland?


Auckland Council predicts that by 2040, the population of Auckland will have increased by 1,000,000 and require 400,000 new houses. The electricity used in an average house over the course of a year house is around 8000 kW (kilowatts) and this multiplied by 400,000 means an additional 3,200,000 kW of electricity must be found for these houses alone. Where will this burgeoning beast we call Auckland get this electricity from? It can come from solar energy. Many will be familiar with solar water heating units on rooftops with evaporator tubes. Some, however, may not be familiar with Photo Voltaic (PV) panels. Photo Voltaic panels generate electricity from a solar panel into a battery bank where it can be used to power appliances throughout a house. With careful energy management, it is possible for PVs to supply all the electricity demands in a house, augmenting the electricity usage or even eliminating the need for an electricity supplier altogether. The really exciting part is that not only is it possible to decrease your dependence on supply companies but you can actually get into credit and end up supplying electricity back into the national grid. For example, a resident in Stanmore Bay has been running a solar house for the past two years and his power bill in the first year was $120 and last year $106. Given that his power company’s annual line charges are $350, this proves solar energy can be an efficient and cost effective technology capable of being utilised to supplement the electricity industry. This is not a pipedream – the technology exists now. In Christchurch for example, they are currently building New Zealand’s largest solar subdivision, putting solar on 3500 homes. If each of the 400,000 new houses built in the Auckland region were powered by solar, energy savings could negate the need for new and expensive electricity generation schemes and the cost of the technology would become considerably cheaper. So why not consider using the sun to provide you with an alternative source of energy for your whole household and reduce that power bill and carbon footprint?


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Building Services

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Free advice for greener homes


A free Auckland Council service is helping residents to incorporate sustainable design into new homes, extensions and retrofits through comprehensive, independent advice. Council’s Eco Design Advisor Eion Scott works with homeowners, builders, designers and the trade, helping them to build healthy, energy-efficient, water-efficient houses, with lower-impact materials and less waste. Top interventions are ceiling insulation, underfloor insulation, bathroom extractors, energy efficient lighting, solar or heat pump hot water system, double or secondary glazing, and Aucklanders are also particularly interested in reducing dampness. Getting houses up to reasonable health and comfort levels often involves a combination of measures, and the factg that the service is independent is key, as conflicting information from companies vying for trade can often lead to misconceptions. The Eco Adviser looks at the whole building and how various aspects of it interact as well as prioritising what people can do within their budgets and how they can best solve their problems to achieve their dream green home. Auckland residents and designers can receive up to two hours of advice for free – this time can be any combination of meetings, including those on-site, and email or phone time. Info: www., (Retrofit Your Home and eco design advice), and

A popular part-time course in Organic Horticulture, delivered by Agriculture New Zealand, is now being offered in Warkworth. (A second course may also run in Helensville if numbers permit). The course explores the latest trends in sustainable farming, both internationally and in New Zealand. The overall aim is to build ecosystems, promote biodiversity, increase soil and plant health, and avoid the use of artificial fertilisers and sprays. A science-based approach is used to separate myth from fact, while exploring a wide range of organic techniques and systems. Topics covered include organic principles and philosophies, soil management, soil food-webs, composting, companion planting, crop rotation, green manures, organic weed, pest and disease management, general plant knowledge and an introduction to Permaculture. This knowledge can be applied not only to food crops, but also to the cultivation of any plants - from suburban gardens to pastures, orchards, shelterbelts or woodlots. The course will therefore appeal to gardening enthusiasts of all ages as well as growers, farmers, orchardists and lifestyle-block owners. Organic philosophies also embrace principles of kaitiakitanga - which may interest Tangata whenua involved with land management. As well as attending lively and interactive tutorials, the chance to network between organic growing enthusiasts is an added bonus to joining this course. The course is based on NZQA unit standards and successful students will gain a formal qualification. In addition to attending tutorials, workshops or fieldtrips once a week, students will need to complete practical and theory assignments in their own time. For more information phone Agriculture New Zealand at 0800 475 455 or visit our website


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call noW - numbers are limited so an early expression of interest is advised!! For more information phone Agriculture new Zealand at 0800 4 sKills (0800 475 455)

0800 475 455


Hibiscus Matters Going Green Feature, 15 August 2012

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