Caroline discusses the Benefits of Living in a Sustainable Subdivision

Business Development & Operations Manager of Pacific Environments Caroline Peacocke discusses the benefits of living in a sustainable subdivision in the Waikato.

Living in one of the Waikato’s more unique subdivisions, St Kilda in Cambridge, brings with it a multitude of benefits. The vision behind the St Kilda came from a passion to create a community with superb amenities and an unbeatable standard of living within the heart of the Waikato. The St Kilda development is committed to energy conservation, encourages sustainable design, incorporates urban design principles, and provides recreational spaces for the community to enjoy.

What makes the St Kilda development unique?

St Kilda subdivision has been designed to foster a sense of community, and includes a café, day care centre and a children’s playground. Twenty percent of the development (over 17 hectares) has been allocated to reserves, with large wetlands the central feature of the development. 15kms of cycleways and footpaths promote a healthy lifestyle and offer alternative travel methods to Cambridge and the wider community.

Section size averages 1600m², to create a sense of openness throughout the whole subdivision and provide a semi-rural feel with the residential aspect. Post & rail fencing and native plants are strongly encouraged to further build on the rural touch.

What are some of the principles of sustainable design within the St Kilda development?

  • Home Orientation – every home is built with an orientation to the north, to maximise solar gain for heating and energy generation

  • Thermal Mass –concrete floor slabs (and other forms of thermal mass) to act as a thermal heat sink.; concrete is highly efficient at absorbing the sun’s energy during the day and re-radiating this heat at night into the home

  • Insulation – made from recycled plastic bottles for walls and ceiling insulation, with levels that exceed the current New Zealand Building Code specifications by a minimum of 20%

  • Rainwater Collection – rainwater collection tanks to protect and preserve Cambridge’s water source

  • Photovoltaic cells/Solar panels

  • Compulsory double glazing

  • Compulsory use of rainwater harvesting systems plumbed back to the non-potable uses within the home

  • Maximum lot coverage of 700 square metres

  • Effective solar shading to allow winter sun ingress and to block out heat in peak summer

  • Concrete, brick, stone, rammed earth, or equivalent heat sinks to harness sunlight for passive heating

  • The use of energy efficient and low water usage appliances throughout the home

  • Energy efficient lighting systems such as LED or compact fluorescent

  • High efficiency space heating systems such as heat pumps or fully condensing natural gas boilers

  • Enviro-Choice labelled and sustainable materials (where-ever possible/practical) for improved indoor air quality and to mitigate the environmental impact of construction

What are the personal benefits of living in an energy efficient and environmentally friendly development?

One of the most tangible benefits is the lowered cost of power bills. In summer, extra power is generated from the solar panels, sending kWh of power back to the grid, resulting in a significantly reduced power bill. Even winter power bills are lower than any other residence I have lived in.

The house is warmer and drier compared to many other houses. The concrete floor absorbs winter sun, generating heat that warms the living areas superbly during the day. Overhangs are designed to keep the hot summer sun out and passive air flow is achieved by having opening windows or vents on all sides of the house. These two features alone reduce the use of air conditioners in summer.

A 25,000L water tank provides enough water for gardening and is used in water-based fittings and appliances to reduce town water consumption. St Kilda homes still have connection to town water supply for drinking water and for topping up water tanks if needed.

One of the best features is the sense of community and the semi-rural feeling. Wide streets, the wetlands teaming with frogs and bird life, native tree planting and post & rail fencing are additional benefits that make living in St Kilda feel like you are in the country.

Last thoughts…….

Operating costs of sustainable homes are much lower, and the living environment tends to be more comfortable. Internationally, sustainably designed homes show a faster appreciation in value when compared to homes designed using non-sustainable design principles. This is due to the fact that they are – warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer, dry and quiet whilst being light filled and spacious. It is anticipated that energy efficient homes will become highly sought after, especially as green building standards are likely to become mandatory in the future.

Pacific Environments is committed to architectural design excellence, creating inspiring 'fit for purpose' built environment solutions for our clients. 


Sustainability, lifestyle and the creation of enduring investment value is core to our design philosophy.

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