In October, Rachel, Mat, Ella, Lyn and David attended the Eco Design Advisor conference. This event brings together people from Government, Councils, universities, community advocacy and of course Architecture.
The first morning focussed on the latest climate science, sea level predictions and the likely effects on urban environments - specifically in Dunedin where they are already experiencing the effects of rising oceans in the low lying suburbs with a talks by Ryan Paulik and Scott Willis.
In Auckland current ocean rise predictions mean that a 1 in 100 year floods could be 1 in 2 year floods in 2050, making many waterfront properties unusable (read uninsurable). Scott Willis has been working to build a climate safe house for a woman whose Dunedin section has become unusable.
Shae Brazier from Revolve Energy spoke about his own Zero Energy house in Grey Lynn, which he designed and built over a decade ago and has been monitoring ever since. They have a website with practical information around the methods they used and what has worked well in practice. His household energy bill for last year was $1050, including driving an electric car over 15,000km. https://zeroenergyhouse.co.nz/zero-energy
Mathew Blakie, from Auckland Council Strategy group, spoke about Council’s difficulties with the Building Code and the lack of levers they have to effect change in the way houses are built. There was general agreement in that The Building Code is not fit for purpose and that while we try to retrofit houses with decent insulation and ventilation we continue to build new ones with the same problems. Mathew also announced that Auckland Council LIM reports will now include a properties environmental certification(s), including Homestar, Greenstar, Passivhaus, Homefit etc. While this might seem insignificant it has had dramatic effects overseas in the number of buildings being certified.
Julie Villard (Eco-Design Advisor, Christchurch City Council) presented on how to make smart heating choices that are good for you and the planet. She made compelling arguments for spending a lot more to insulate to the best standard as the savings on heating energy pay off within just a few years – not to mention helping reduce CO2 emissions. An typical code - insulated house in Christchurch would cost around $300,000 over its lifetime (60 years) to keep it at a healthy temperature.
We had Brian Berg and Trish Love speak about Life Cycle analysis and the Camp Glenorchy Living Building. We will be getting Trish into the office to show us more about the Life Cycle analysis tool LCAQuick. When it comes to Carbon Footprint, the key takeaways were that:
Timber is good and concrete/steel are bad
Solar thermal and solar photovoltaic are good over their lifetime
Cut down on mains water use by collecting and reusing rain water
Aluminium is okay provided it is recycled at end of life
Andrew Eagles from the Green Building Council spoke about the new Carbon Zero Roadmap. This roadmap sets out the steps that New Zealand needs to take to get all our buildings zero carbon by 2050 and all new buildings zero carbon by 2030.
We finished the second day with a discussion workshop where we looked at what housing could be like in 2100. This brought out both the range of issues the design community face and the range of personalities within the design community. As architects it is clear that our role will be to bridge the ideals with the bricks and mortar of reality and to keep pushing and educating for practical change.