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The Sustainability Issue


Summer 2016






2 Kaipara kaitiaki



Buildings on the move


C  arbon calculus

10 14

Earthen treasures


Green, not so clean?

16 Unlocking the black box 18 Waste-not construction


22 24

Bridging the gap


100% clean, green hydrogen

16 18


Editor Dr Linda Kestle Writer Mandy Herrick Contributors Dr Linda Kestle, Dr Giles Dodson, David Turner, Roger Birchmore, Rau Hoskins, Dr Terri-Ann Berry, Stephane Boyer, Ngaire Molyneux, Dr Jonathan Leaver


Design Tineswari Maruthamuthu Printing Unitec Copy Centre Published by Unitec Institute of Technology Private Bag 92025, Victoria Street West Auckland 1142, New Zealand ISSN 1176-7391 Cover: Puriri botanical illustration Š Emma Scheltema

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“A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels.” – Albert Einstein (1946)

Sustainability articles selected for inclusion in this edition fell under one or more of the three ‘key pillars of sustainability’, being Environment (Science and Conservation), Economy (Business and Legislation) and Society (Culture). Whilst there are three pillars, they should not just be viewed individually, but instead be treated as a collection of interconnected systems. Therefore, this edition includes the various aspects of sustainability research, from scientific to heritage conservation, waste minimisation, recycling of materials and buildings, to economically and socially driven projects that illustrate the fundamental shifts occurring across the construction, education and business sectors. This is demonstrated in articles such as citizen-driven DNA sampling, which is poised to transform species conservation, to create green businesses and community ownership of threatened species, such as whitebait. Likewise, critical projects that

If you have any questions about the research articles in this issue of Advance, please contact the Unitec Research and Enterprise Office. We’d love to hear from you. 09 815 4321 Extn 8574

evaluate the sustainable value of new technologies or policies, such as thermal membranes and nationwide insulation policies that reach across business and social boundaries to drive change. The challenge is to recognise that sustainability is a dynamic process, in which the exploitation of resources, the focus of business investments, the direction of technological development and the needs and opportunities for diverse cultural communities means working in partnership to enhance and influence current and future projects and generations.


This Summer edition is focused on sustainability, which has at times been reduced to being just a buzzword in some sectors and publications. As the editor, I wanted to instead present a diverse yet credible range of research project articles which demonstrate factual and measurable aspects of sustainability. In New Zealand, sustainability is often regarded as just being about environmental issues, whereas it is much broader than that, and is in fact about long-term thinking, that ensures sustained economic growth, positive social involvement and reduced environmental impacts.

The three pillars of sustainability are fundamental to any research that Unitec undertakes. By engaging external research and business collaborators, we ensure that we create real-world research that does not sit in dusty tomes, but instead serves to inform and transform the world we live in, so that it is a more sustainable one. Dr Linda Kestle Associate Professor – Construction Building Construction and Services

air habitat governance & policy


health & well-being

ECONOMY economy & wealth

SOCIETY community & culture

education & learning


ENVIRONMENT ecosystems materials


Summer 2016



A flagship project between Unitec, Te Uri o Hau and NIWA to unleash hundreds of local science students onto the shores of the Kaipara to conduct real-world monitoring paves the way for environmental guardianship of this threatened harbour.


“This critical snapper nursery and international bird hotspot is facing a loss of biodiversity and declining water quality because of multiple environmental pressures,” says Senior Lecturer in Communications Studies, Giles Dodson. “If we can contribute to student understanding and grow the next generation of kaitiaki by sharing the knowledge and the values of Te Uri o Hau, then it’s of mutual benefit.” The harbour is one of the largest in the world, so conserving it requires the joint effort of many groups, from iwi to local authorities, fishers to grass-roots conservationists. Notably, one group that has been largely absent from these efforts has been science students who can benefit greatly from extending their textbook knowledge.

“It is widely recognised that creating meaningful real-world experiences that are connected to possibilities beyond the classroom has a huge number of benefits for students,” says Dodson. “By linking local students with kaumatua, kuia and local kaitiaki, these students can really see what environmental guardianship looks like on the ground and how they could play a role in environmental protection.” Te Uri o Hau has used a NIWA-developed toolkit for a number of years to monitor the estuary so kaitiaki will deliver science and matauranga-based estuary-monitoring workshops. The results of the ongoing monitoring programme will be made publically available through NIWA to help develop environmental management plans. “Giving these students the chance to be ‘real’ field scientists and equipping them with a richer understanding of the different management approaches will allow them to see the challenges and complexities that communities, local authorities and Māori face when deciding on how best to manage the environment.”


The year-long $34,500 project, funded through a Curious Mind grant, combines scientific monitoring with matauranga Māori to equip Rodney College and Otamatea High School students with skills and knowledge so they can become faithful guardians of this internationally recognised estuary.

“By linking local students with kaumatua, kuia and local kaitiaki, these students can really see what environmental guardianship looks like on the ground and how they could play a role in environmental protection.”

contact Giles Dodson

Summer 2016



Buildings on the move One of New Zealand’s little-known secrets is that as a nation we are keen recyclers of buildings. In fact, we top the charts when it comes to the relocation of houses – up to 10% of our house annual building supply consists of recycled buildings. “There is nowhere in the world where people do this to the same scale,” says Architecture Senior Lecturer David Turner. “Given that the construction industry is one of the most wasteful in the world – 20% of all waste going to landfill comes from construction – I consider this to be a good thing. We adore our old villas and we have this mentality that we want things to last.” Turner’s interest in recycled buildings was piqued when he was perusing the statistics on the number of New Zealand’s new builds from year to year. “The figure hovers around 20,000 new houses per year, however around 2,000 of those


are relocated buildings. To witness this, I got up at 2am and witnessed a convoy of buildings crossing the bridge, it was quite a sight.” As Turner notes, this desire to waste nothing, to retrieve or build on previous invested effort and to preserve and retain memory is key to tangata whenua and the pioneering culture adopted by 19th century European settlers. A lack of recycling options in New Zealand also makes these houses more precious. “In New Zealand, we don’t recycle housingbuilding waste, like Australia, so we often House moving, Auckland, 2016. Images © Craig Walker

get a house that is less than 30 years old where nothing at all is salvaged. For villas, it’s a different story. People love matai floorboards or kauri doors, so these demolitions make for rich pickings.” On many fronts, housing relocations tick all the right boxes when it comes to waste-minimisation, environmental sustainability and improving our housing stock. Turner says the only sticking point is that it creates a dizzying patchwork of houses untethered to time and place.


“This desire to waste nothing, to retrieve or build on previous invested effort and to preserve and retain memory is key to tangata whenua and the pioneering culture adopted by 19th century European settlers.“

have a conservation plan if you’re moving your houses around?” Turner says as well as looking to streamline relocations to reduce waste and help ease supply-side problems, parallel conservation policies should be developed to ensure the growing stock of relocated houses doesn’t negatively impact the historical character of the city.

“Buildings have a role in telling you about the history of the people who lived there. Keeping buildings in-situ is important. It preserves the character of the city and maintains the historical continuum.”

Relaxing consent procedures, requiring demolition consents, reducing GST on sustainable building, removing covenants that obstruct building relocations and kick-starting a government refurbishment programme are just some of the recommendations to come come out of Turner's recent paper, 'Whole Building Recycling as a Waste Reduction Practice'.

Under Auckland’s new unitary plan, more conservation guidelines are being created, many of which are informed by long-established European approaches. Needless to say some European planners and conservators have been appalled at New Zealander’s enthusiasm for relocating houses. Conservators in Italy were astounded. They would say, “How can you

“In the case of Hobsonville, the government sold off Air Force houses to a private developer who plonked them on a piece of land and made a tonne of money. To address the housing shortage they could look to liberate some governmentowned houses to make way for high-density housing and refurbish this stock to increase the supply of state housing.”

contact David Turner

Summer 2016


Carbon calculus ECONOMY


New government insulation regulations for housing aren’t quite as green as it seems at face-value, new Unitec research shows. The government’s 2008 minimum standards for insulation in new builds was an integrated response to address climate change by reducing energy demands, yet construction experts were well aware it could have some unexpected costs in terms of carbon expenditure.

New Zealand’s Kyoto Protocol agreements, yet no-one had published a full life-cycle analysis of these changes. We felt this was especially pertinent given that New Zealand’s electricity comes largely from renewable sources,” says Birchmore.

“It’s broadly accepted that energy use falls by 30% in insulated homes, so this policy was used to help meet New Zealand’s Kyoto Protocol agreements.”

In order to capture the broader environmental consequences, Unitec’s Senior Lecturer in Construction Roger Birchmore and his student Jovan Andric undertook a study of the carbon payback over time. “It’s broadly accepted that energy use falls by 30% in insulated homes, so this policy was used to help meet


“Insulation obviously has invaluable benefits to the health and wellbeing of people, though we came at it purely from a technical point of view. Our question was, if there was going to be a great expenditure of carbon at the outset, what was the payback? How long does it take to recoup carbon savings from reduced electricity usage?”











26 years






156 years

The study was based on timber-framed houses constructed by carpentry students and involved a desk-based exercise in carbon expenditure across three climate zones, in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. At each location, the team fitted one house to the new minimum insulation standards and another that met old insulation standards. Energy savings across these two scenarios were calculated (a 24-hour heating schedule and a 5–11pm heating schedule) at 20°C and 16°C respectively. Then, the team looked at the carbon emitted in the transport, manufacturing and end-of-life disposal of each and every item used, from extra insulation to additional glass and aluminium used in double glazing. “It almost goes back to counting the petrol used by the digger driver to get the metal for a product, it’s that detailed,” says Birchmore. The results showed that insulation does a good job of reducing energy use, with savings across the various scenarios averaging 34%. However, despite these

savings, the payback time varied between 1–10 years for a Christchurch climate. Although climate was a key element, it was people’s habits that were the largest determinant of carbon payback. If the household heated their house just in after-work situations (between 5–11pm), the payback on average took 10 years. If it was used constantly, payback dropped to just one year – 10 times faster than the first scenario. “In the 24-hour heating scenario, carbon payback gains were accelerated because occupants benefit from the savings for longer. However, your average New Zealander heats their house between 5pm and 10pm, so we’re not making the most of these energy savings,” says Birchmore. For those houses in warmer climates, like those in Auckland, the payback time stretched out to 26 years under the 5–11pm heating scenario, so in certain scenarios national insulation standards undermine the government’s environmental strategy.

Summer 2016


50 Year Carbon Footprint of the Increase in Home Insulation Levels in New Zealand


Zone 1 Auckland

Zone 2 Wellington

Zone 3 Christchurch



-10,000 -15,000

Heating Schedule 1: 24hr @ 20º


Heating Schedule 2: Evening only @ 16º

-25,000 -30,000 -35,000


“Where is most of the construction occurring in New Zealand? Auckland. Building consents issued in Auckland are almost equal to those of Christchurch and Wellington combined,” says Birchmore. The picture becomes increasingly complex once you look at individual usage of energy and the carbon profile of the electricity generation across the country – something that is changing from day to day. Unlike many countries, New Zealand has an abundance of fast-flowing rivers, so most of its energy comes from renewable hydro-electricity. The energy sector is set to become greener. Indeed, by 2025 the government plans to ramp up renewable energy generation to 90%, so ultimately,

the carbon-payback on home insulation will take longer. “If we got to a situation whereby all of our electricity was renewable, the payback time for an Auckland house under an evening heating scenario would be 156 years – three times the life expectancy of a house,” says Birchmore. “As our electricity generation becomes greener, we need to be more careful about talking up the benefits of insulation as a green solution, it’s much more complex than that. Although I would still recommend that Auckland houses are insulated for health and financial benefits, it’s questionable whether we need to raise them to Northern Hemisphere standards.”

contact Roger Birchmore



“If we got to a situation whereby all of our electricity was renewable, the payback time for an Auckland house under an evening heating scenario would be 156 years.”

Summer 2016


Earthen treasures SOCIETY CULTURE

The restoration of New Zealand’s only earthen-floor wharepuni (meeting house) on the banks of the Whanganui river has been a monumental, life-changing experience for many of Unitec’s architecture students.

For the past three years, over 90 Unitec architecture students have travelled with Unitec architecture staff to the abandoned Ngāti Kurawhatia marae to gain a hands-on understanding of traditional Māori craftsmanship. The students have worked on restoring the wharepuni and pātaka (elevated store house), and designing and constructing a kitchen lock-up, dining structure and eco-friendly ablutions block. On any one day, you may have found them sawing timber, compacting the earthen floor or adding traditional raupō insulation to the interior of the wharepuni. For decades the marae has remained untouched after it was abandoned in the late 1930s when the river road was put through to the small settlement of Pipiriki. Reviving the marae was no mean feat. “The new road drained a lot of life from the river, so we were looking to restore not only the buildings but also bring Te Pōti


marae back to life. We didn’t want to just do this renovation and not actually fix anything, so that it stays cold and under-utilised,” says Architecture Lecturer Rau Hoskins. Hoskins has had a strong focus on Māori architecture for the past 20 years. In 1999 he helped to set up Te Hononga, which concentrates on research and design projects with a Māori focus. Since then, Te Hononga staff and students have worked on a number of projects, including a historic bach on Rangitoto Island, a domestic Māori whare made of nikau fronds and, more recently, a school for traditional celestial navigation.

“The new road drained a lot of life from the river, so we’re looking to restore not only the buildings but also bring the marae back to life.”

Students compacting the wharepuni earth floor ready for shark liver oil, Whanganui, 2016. Image © Rau Hoskins


While picking a favourite project is somewhat like picking your favourite child, Hoskins admits this project at Te Pōti marae particularly captivates students. “The Whanganui river is such as special place. It’s that sense of isolation that really helped to sharpen the students’ focus. They’re all in it together, sleeping in tents and living a very basic existence, so it tests them on many levels... and I’m not just talking about the cellphone deprivation.”

the 2015 trip was the best week of his life,” Hoskins says with a chuckle.

Once on the ground and off the grid, Hoskins says, the second, third and fourth-year students gain a much more tangible appreciation of the craftsmanship and ingenuity used in Māori architecture. “One student told me that

On site, the students did just this by working closely with a number of Heritage New Zealand conservation experts and marae descendants from Ngāti Kurawhatia to deepen their local knowledge and fill in the gaps.

He says the resourceful ingenuity required on such a project isn’t something that can be easily taught. It typically comes as a result of researching both the history of the site and traditional building techniques, whilst coupling these book smarts with in-depth discussions with experts.

Top right: Completed kitchen lockup, Whanganui, 2016. Image © Rau Hoskins Illustration: Rangiahua, Te Poti Marae restored front elevation, 2004. Image © Chris Cochran Conservation Architect

Summer 2016



After that, they got their hands dirty by learning about experimental architectural bush-craft, such as ‘swamp’ insulation. “To insulate the wharepuni, the students sourced raupō at a nearby wetland, talked to elders, experimented with different techniques and then improved their approach,” Hoskins says. “Māori would have done a similar thing a thousand years ago when they discovered New Zealand’s climate was much colder than the one they were used to. Even back in the 1870s they used raupō as insulation, which is incredible to think given the insulation code didn’t come in until 1977. That’s also why the wharepuni has a sunken floor to make use of the earth’s ambient temperature. You’ve got to give it to them, they knew a thing or two about keeping buildings warm.”


Once all of the facilities are completed next year, the marae will be home to three restored 19th century buildings which contain high and lowtech devices to meet green building standards. Solar panels, composting toilets, grey-water systems and a gravity-fed water tower are just some of the green technologies that have been installed so that visiting whānau and tourists can experience an overnight stay with all the comforts of any modern day eco-resort. Even the earthen floor wharepuni will have a dust-free finish so that visitors don’t come away with a little too much of the Whanganui river on their clothes. Hoskins says that finding solutions to unique problems like this was one of the beauties of the project because it required the students to become inquisitive, playful and resourceful.

Left: Erecting wall framing for kitchen lockup. Right: Adding raupo roof insulation prior to new corrugated iron. Whanganui, 2016. Images © Rau Hoskins


“It’s that sense of isolation that really helped to sharpen the students’ focus. They’re all in it together, sleeping in tents and living a very basic existence, so it tests them on many levels.“

Fortunately, the students rose to the challenge. They had two bags of earth couriered from the site to Unitec and experimented with a variety of finishing agents – from polymers to linseed. After performing a number of trials, they settled on one that was all natural: silt, starch, linseed and water. However, their final finishing solution was missing one vital

ingredient, and sheer chance led to its discovery. “When we were relevelling and compacting the wharepuni floor last year, we encountered a 76-year-old man from Pūtiki marae who told us that shark liver oil was used as a finish. We’ll use that on the floor too. Fortunately, shark is a common by-catch and it can be sourced sustainably.”

This project was made possible thanks to the hospitality and guidance of Ngāti Kurawhatia, Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi and Heritage New Zealand. Assembling CNC routed ply components for dining structure. Whanganui, 2016. Image © Rau Hoskins

contact Rau Hoskins

Summer 2016


Green, not so clean? Energy-efficient solutions for housing are posing a risk to our health by trapping and concentrating harmful vapours, Unitec research shows.


Vapour control membranes have become particularly popular in recent years as homeowners seek to reduce their energy consumption and electricity bill. However, new research by Unitec has shown these very membranes may trap and concentrate toxic chemicals released from furniture and paints. “This technology reduces heat loss and increases energy efficiency by controlling heat transfer and reflecting heat inside the building, so buildings are cool in summer and warm in winter. Unsurprisingly, it is gaining popularity in Europe and it is becoming more common in New Zealand, especially Auckland, although we have a relatively warm and humid climate which encourages these volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to disperse into the air,” says Unitec’s Lecturer in Civil Engineering, Terri-Ann Berry. The Ministry for the Environment has some limited indoor guidelines on certain VOCs such as benzene but there are no government minimum standards for indoor environments of pollutants such as formaldehyde.


couches are known to release a number of VOCs into the air, such as the carcinogen formaldehyde. Cooking, heating and humid weather all help to release these harmful vapours.

“Currently, there are no government minimum standards for indoor environments of pollutants such as formaldehyde.”

“In Auckland, we have a humid climate, so I questioned whether the current trend for increasing airtightness in our houses is sensible given its potential effect on indoor air quality. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, 90% of our time is spent indoors and long-term exposure to chemicals may have particularly damaging effects,” says Berry.

Growing concern about indoor pollutants and a lack of regulation in New Zealand has spurred a number of businesses to self-regulate. Indeed, retail giants like The Warehouse have set new rules so MDF furniture meets European formaldehyde emission standards. Others are following suit.

“This is exacerbated by the fact that we love buying new and often disposable things. The life-span of a couch may only be five years these days. For the first 6–9 months, that couch may be releasing harmful vapours or ‘gassing off’. It will start to tail off a few years down the track at about the time when people will start to look to replace their old couch. It is a perfect storm.”

In the first year of their product life, paints, lacquers and soft furniture such as beds and

Berry also says the introduction of new regulations around fire safety means




Formaldehyde formula CH₂O


“The life-span of a couch may only be five years these days. For the first 6-9 months, that couch will be releasing harmful vapours or ‘gassing off’. ”

couches and other items of furniture are often sprayed with fire-retardants, so they are becoming loaded with an increasing amount of VOCs. Armed with these facts and a strong hunch, Berry set about conducting a scoping study back in 2014 with her research assistant Shannon Wallis, which allowed her to source $94,000 of seed funding from BRANZ and the Building Research Levy to develop an in-depth two year study. “In the scoping study, we fitted one of Unitec’s model houses with a membrane and left the other house membrane-free, used household varnish as a source and tested the VOCs. After two weeks we could show there was a significant difference in the concentration of volatile organic compounds, so we want to build on that,” says Berry. The two-year study will simulate a reallife scenario by fitting the houses with furniture such as carpet, chairs, desks and

couches as well as employing mechanical ventilation to generate regular air flow. “The simulated occupancy will switch lights on and off and adjust humidity within the building to mimic activities such as boiling a kettle. We want this scenario to mimic real-life as closely as possible, so that our results are relevant.” During the two-year period, Berry and her colleague will perform matrix testing by swapping out some furniture or altering the mechanical ventilation to develop a profile of VOC and particulate matter concentrations under a variety of circumstances. “We’re asking how long does it take to get VOC and particulate material to safe levels? This way we can inform regulators and create greater awareness, so people aren’t so exposed to indoor air pollution. Already people are known to ‘gas off’ their furniture in detached garages, so this may become best-practice for anyone with inadequate ventilation in their house.”

contact Terri-Ann Berry

Summer 2016


Unlocking the black box A DNA project that identifies the threatened whitebait species filling our supermarket shelves and rivers may help to radically improve their chances of survival. ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE

In recent years, the popular pursuit of white-baiting has come under criticism from conservationists concerned about the declining status of the fish that make up whitebait, one of which is more endangered than our little spotted kiwi. “The term whitebait encompasses five species of juvenile galaxiid fish that are indistinguishable, so DNA analysis provides a promising solution to breaking open this ‘larval black box’,” says Senior Lecturer in Environmental and Animal Sciences Stephane Boyer. Despite the fact that three species are ranked as ‘declining’ (inanga, koaro, giant kokopu) and one is ranked as ‘threatened’ (shortjaw kokopu), very few limitations have been placed on the harvesting of whitebait, in part, because of this dearth of information. Boyer hopes to change that. The first part of the study funded by the Royal Society of New Zealand Hutton Fund, will involve sampling 30 supermarkets and fish-shops to determine the exact make-up


of the fish being sold. For the second part, Boyer hopes to extend the study to rivers and streams in order to build up a comprehensive map of no-go zones. “This will allow for the sustainable management of the species and allow fishers to unequivocally say that the fish used in their whitebait is not threatened.” Boyer says that, currently, scientists do not have a full understanding of where galaxiid species are located. However, DNA tools due to be rolled out in the next few years will allow scientists and citizen scientists to test water samples for environmental fish DNA. Instead of the painstaking task of matching DNA to specific species, this inexpensive field test will allow scientists to screen for the presence or absence of specific species.

Whitebait / Shortjaw Kokopu (Galaxias postvectis) – Species threatened

“Fish produce a kind of mucus that leaves traces of DNA in the water, so if you have a critical mass of fish then it is possible to sample the water.” Boyer says the test would either involve testing the river water itself, or placing a sample of whitebait into a bucket and testing the water. Using portable equipment such as the laptop-sized Bento Lab, fishers, schools or scientists will be given an accurate picture of the whitebait occupying those rivers within 20–30 minutes. “It’s being done overseas to detect endangered or invasive aquatic species, so I can’t see why we can’t do it here. We’ve just never tested it with whitebait. The beauty of it is that because


“Whitebait encompasses five species of juvenile galaxiid fish that are indistinguishable, so DNA analysis provides a promising solution to breaking open this ‘larval black box’.”

it requires minimal training to conduct the test, it can be used by community conservationists or schools seeking to take ownership of their local stream.” During the 2017 season, Boyer will test the waters of a variety of streams using the portable laboratory, with a view to putting it into the hands of those people who can champion the survival of the species. “Given the degradation of our waterways and the lack of political action on this front, it is not inconceivable that one of these species could go extinct in my lifetime. However, this new era of DNA testing can empower people to help turn around the whitebait's fate,” says Boyer.

contact Stephane Boyer

Summer 2016


Waste-not construction Half of all waste in New Zealand is thought to be generated by the construction sector, so Unitec posed the question, “How can we construct for deconstruction?” to industry professionals across the globe and held a conference to kick-start the industry’s reinvention.



“After the WasteMINZ workshop in 2014, a number of industry leaders decided that we needed to think about the construction process in reverse to tackle waste. That’s how the conference came about. It’s only when you get professionals to think about what’s going into the landfill and look at what can be diverted, reused and recycled, that wastage can be radically reduced,” says one of the organisers, Associate Professor in Construction Linda Kestle.

“In New Zealand, 20% of all construction waste goes to landfill and 80% of all waste goes to cleanfill – much of which can be reduced, reused and recovered,” says Kestle. “All it requires is good planning on each building project and an industry-wide approach.”


To get the process rolling, a Unitec team successfully applied for a starter grant from Auckland City Council, called for papers and selected keynote speakers from New Zealand

and overseas. The conference, Building Today, Saving Tomorrow, was held at Auckland’s Heritage Hotel from July 15–17. “We were able to draw together a number of experts from across the sector – from architects to demolition experts to energy advisors – to share the latest research in waste minimisation and showcase tangible examples of reuse done well,” says Kestle.

Image © Chris Cochran Conservation Architect

Summer 2016



As well as working to harmonise thinking on waste minimisation, the conference exposed industry professionals and students to practical and artful ways that professionals are tackling waste minimisation in their respective fields. One of the most popular talks, Kestle says, was hosted by architect and former Unitec architecture student Michael O’Sullivan, who took a good hard look at how he could reduce the waste at his own practice as an architect at BOS. “Once I started building my own home in Mangere and our studio in Lyttelton, I was embarrassed at the amount of stuff that I was throwing away,” says O’Sullivan. So he set about reusing unwanted construction materials that were destined for the landfill.


One of his most ambitious projects to date has been repurposing some of the beams from the old Lyttleton wharf, which was badly damaged in the Christchurch quake in 2011. For three years, these hardwood beams sat in a heap on the wharf until they were spotted by O'Sullivan on a drive around the western harbour.

“In New Zealand, 20% of all construction waste goes to landfill and 80% of all waste goes to cleanfill – much of which can be reduced, reused and recovered.”

Images © Chris Cochran Conservation Architect


“It’s not for everyone, though in Christchurch there are rugby fields of salvageable material. It’s gold to the right architect.”

Over one weekend, O'Sullivan and his friend Laurence James manhandled over 10,000kg of the wharf timbers into place onto his new office site overlooking the harbour. Some weighed over 200kg. “The only challenge was having enough sugar on my Weetbix to lift the beasts.” The 100-year-old beams that held strong for so many years now form 25% of the façade and much of the deck of his architecture studio. Since the earthquake, BOS has contributed in over 250 repairs in the Christchurch region and

he tries to push the ‘reuse button’ wherever possible with home owners. Indeed, O’Sullivan is now on such good terms with the demolition companies, he places his orders in advance and they look out for the items he’s hoping to pick up. “It’s not for everyone, though in Christchurch there are rugby fields of salvageable timber. It’s gold to the right architect. That said, it doesn’t always have a place and a function, so often I will fill a container and ship it up to Auckland. It just seems like the sensible thing to do.”

The Building Today, Saving Tomorrow conference proceedings were co–edited by Linda Kestle and Mary Panko. To see the proceedings, please visit building-today-saving-tomorrow-construction-and-deconstruction-conference-proceedings

contact Dr Linda Kestle

Image © Chris Cochran Conservation Architect

Summer 2016


Bridging the gap ECONOMY BUSINESS

Over the past few months, Unitec business development advisors have helped Hoani Waititi marae whanau create an aspirational plan for the future to ensure it is a hub for education, creativity, wellbeing and entrepreneurship. “Last August, members of the marae whanau came to us under the Metro Voucher Scheme initially to find solutions for the facilities upgrade. It soon became clear that we needed to look at the bigger picture,” says Business Advisor and Lecturer Ngaire Molyneux.

programme that runs from pre-school (kohanga reo) through to high school (wharekura). To further this programme, Molyneux and whanau members looked towards extending it to help those high-school students looking beyond a traditional career.

Molyneux along with other staff members set about working with the whanau members to devise a plan that looked at the marae’s activities in its entirety to determine the strategy, direction and focus of the marae over the next 3–5 years to create a sustainable business model.

“The whanau identified that it wanted the marae to be a focal point for education, creativity, wellbeing and innovation for whanau and the community, so by creating an entrepreneurship programme the marae can create a strong career pathway for these children.”

“It was a soul-searching exercise because it required whanau members to tease out what role they wanted the marae to play in the community, what made it unique and how they could play to their strengths to take advantage of outside opportunities.”

By drawing on the marae’s strong networks, it hopes to draw on the knowledge and skills of alumni to help teach the next generation critical business skills. “A lot of young people want to be their own boss, they don’t want to work an 8–5 job. They have different ideas of their future. They need financial skills and business nous to develop a plan and create a business that they’re passionate about,” says marae trustee Carolyn Morgan.

The marae, which is based in Oratia, runs five social service programmes and a number of workshops including adult te reo classes and kapa haka courses. On site, there is also an immersion Māori language education


Hoani Waititi Marae – Oratia, West Auckland

Hoani Waititi Marae, Oratia, Auckland. Image © Matt Crawford


As well as extending existing programmes, the marae will also look to target new audiences so that it can become economically self-sufficient. “There are 30 cruise ships that park up in Auckland over summer, and yet any tourist coming off those boats would be hard pressed to find an immersive cultural experience in Auckland,” says Morgan. “For the past 30 years, we have been driven by the needs of the community, so we’ve set up a range of programmes in music, dance and traditional weaponry, all of which could be tweaked to meet the needs of tourists or corporate groups who are seeking a rich cultural experience.” To guide the whanau’s thinking, Molyneux and her team drew on their in-depth understanding of marae business models across New Zealand in order to advise them on the gaps in the market in te reo,

tikanga and cultural competencies programmes.

“We never thought beyond the marae gates, so by partnering with Unitec we were able to look outward on the world.”

“For years we had this internal focus,“ says Morgan. “We never thought beyond the marae gates. By partnering with Unitec we were able to look outward on the world and see how we could use the vast wealth of skills and knowledge in our networks to become stronger. I’m pleased to say that we’ve gained a new outlook, but perhaps more importantly, we’ve established a really strong partnership with Unitec,” says Morgan. To find out more about the voucher scheme, see

contact Ngaire Molyneux

Eynon Delamere (Chair of Hoani Waititi Marae Trust) and Ngaire Molyneux. Image © Matt Crawford

Summer 2016


100% clean, green hydrogen Despite recent advances in vehicle technology, New Zealand’s transport sector is 99% dependent on fossil fuels. However, zero emission hydrogen-vehicles look to shake up the industry. Unitec is poised to be at the forefront of harnessing and developing this technology.


Unitec’s Associate Professor in Civil Engineering, Jonathan Leaver, in collaboration with the University of Iceland and Stanford University, has recently completed a comprehensive model of New Zealand’s energy economy. He says that tumbling prices are placing hydrogen-based technologies about six years behind battery-operated electric cars. “Hydrogen-powered electric vehicles are about 15 times faster to refuel than battery-run electric cars and they have a longer range. The disadvantages are that hydrogen is expensive to produce, and refuelling stations are generally built on a large scale and cost several million dollars. It requires a significant investment in this technology.” Hyundai, Honda and Toyota are already producing hydrogen-powered vehicles and Leaver says vehicle production is expected to surge in the next three to four years. As these companies rapidly scale up production, economies of scale will put further downward pressure on prices for hydrogen-powered vehicles. In Leaver’s modelling, with the oil price at US$100 per barrel and a carbon price of US$75 per tonne of CO2, green hydrogen-powered vehicles would replace 10% of the light fleet and 20% of the heavy fleet by 2050. In the next 20 years, the most expensive part of the hydrogen vehicle, the fuel cell, is expected to halve in price.


Leaver says it is important for students to understand how hydrogen could potentially transform the automotive industry. To prepare students for this hydrogen-powered future, Unitec will look to reconvene its Hydrogen Technology Development Committee next year to provide research opportunities for students and link automotive engineering students with industry experts and specialised research institutions. For those automotive students living here, research and development into hydrogenpowered technologies is especially important, as New Zealand is poised to be one of the countries with enough clean, green electricity to produce hydrogen at scale. Indeed, Japan is already looking to import hydrogen in the near future to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and is looking towards countries with spare renewable energy capacity such as New Zealand. “We’re well–placed in the export hydrogen market because our electricity production is expected to be 90% renewable by 2020, and we have the ability to ramp up our wind sector significantly. We will be in a select group of countries including Norway and Iceland that can produce 100% clean, green hydrogen.”

contact Dr Jonathan Leaver

“The challenge is to recognise that sustainability is a dynamic process, in which the exploitation of resources, the focus of business investments, the direction of technological development and the needs and opportunities for diverse cultural communities means working in partnership to enhance and influence current and future projects and generations.” – Dr Linda Kestle

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Summer 2016


phone 0800 10 95 10 fax +64 9 815 2905 web Mt Albert campus 139 Carrington Rd Mt Albert Auckland 1025 WaitÄ kere campus 5-7 Ratanui St Henderson Auckland 0612

Advance Summer 2016  

Sustainability is about long-term thinking that ensures sustained economic growth, positive social involvement and reduced environmental imp...

Advance Summer 2016  

Sustainability is about long-term thinking that ensures sustained economic growth, positive social involvement and reduced environmental imp...