Kiwis warm to snugger buildings
By PAUL EASTON - The Dominion Post | Saturday, 11 October 2008

After decades of shivering in freezing homes there are signs Kiwis are finally grasping the benefits of sustainable buildings.

A new apartment building planned for central Wellington will be equipped with the latest green features, and a Whitby show home is the warmest in town.

Metropol, a 15-storey apartment block due to be finished in late 2010, will sit near Cuba Mall on the corner of Leeds and Ghuznee streets.

Metropol was designed by British architect Huw Parslow, who has been part of the sustainable building boom in Europe.

"When I first arrived, the thing that amazed me was there was no double glazing," he said.

"In a home, the heat is going to escape any way it can, and if there's a four-millimetre pane of glass it's see you later."

Energy-efficient homes are warmer, drier and healthier.

A 2005 study showed visits to the doctor by family members in warm homes dropped 19 per cent and hospital admissions dropped 43 per cent.

It has been estimated energy-efficient homes can save between $800 and $1000 a year on power.

So far there is no residential equivalent to the Green Star rating system developed for commercial buildings, but the Green Building Council says it is working on one. The Green Star scheme rates a building's design and construction.

There are 47 Green Star-registered building projects in New Zealand.

Four buildings now carry a five-star certification and two have a four-star rating.

Membership of the council has grown to 350 organisations since its formation in July 2005.

Research has shown sustainable features add an average 2 to 6 per cent to construction costs.

But that is repaid five or six times through savings on operating costs over a 20-year period.

Metropol will be built to the English-designed Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method.

It will include "regenerative lifts" pumping power back into the building. There are plans for a roof-top garden, and a wind turbine on the 10th floor.

New building rules will also mean there is less shivering in Kiwi homes.

From this month changes to the building code mean all new homes will have to be built to tough insulation standards and, in most cases, have double glazing installed.

The rules have applied to housing in the South Island and the North Island's Central Plateau since November.

Meanwhile, a Whitby show home has been awarded a seven under the new Home Energy Rating Scheme - the highest mark in the Wellington region.

The scale goes from one to 10 - a totally self-sufficient home.

"Basically a 10 would be off the national grid," Construction Marketing Services national manager Dilip Patel said.

The scheme is a voluntary scheme from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority.

It looks at energy use in homes, while the Green Star scheme also rates building materials, water use, construction and design.

From here.