New digest: ​Green building showcase launched, mould problem for many NZ homes, more ambition needed to tackle climate change.

25 November 2019

Photo by Julius Drost on Unsplash

Our HomeFit programme has assessed more than 20,000 homes and found 42% have visible mould, a new digital library showcases some of the world’s greenest buildings, support for the Zero Carbon Bill shows our action on climate will have to disrupt the status quo, climate change is giving wind power a boost, and a new modular framing system could see homes being built in under a week in NZ. These stories and more in our regular round up of green building and climate change news from here and around the world.

GBC news

New Zealand needs to introduce an energy health test for homes when they go on the market, says the head of the NZ Green Building Council. In the past year our free online HomeFit survey has been used to assess more than 20,000 homes with 42% showing visible mould and 70% needing more insulation in the roof.

The World Green Building Council has launched a new digital case study library showcasing a selection of the world’s most cutting-edge sustainable buildings - including two in New Zealand. Each case study demonstrates enhanced performance in relation to health benefits or achieve net zero operational carbon, as verified by established certification schemes, rating tools or other third-party verification.

Green buildings

We report that ASB’s innovative flagship headquarters has been recognised as among New Zealand’s most energy efficient buildings. North Wharf, ASB’s six-year old site on Auckland’s waterfront, has just gained a 5 star base building rating under the NABERSNZ scale – a national scheme that rates the energy efficiency of commercial buildings. The 5 star rating denotes ‘market leading’ efficiency.

Plans have been unveiled for a 11-storey building in London that will feature the largest living wall in Europe, reports Dezeen. Citicape House will be wrapped by a facade of 400,000 plants that are hoped to "capture over eight tonnes of carbon and produce six tonnes of oxygen" annually.

Architecture Now editor Chris Barton comments on the recent Architects Declare movement in New Zealand and what climate-friendly architecture might look like.

Climate change

Support for the Zero Carbon Bill shows our action on climate will have to disrupt the status quo, writes Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Simon Upton in Newsroom. Meanwhile, Edie reports that without more ambitious action to limit global warming, children born today will face "persistent and pervasive" climate-related health impacts throughout their lives.

Time reports the global plans to tackle climate change fall far short of what’s necessary to prevent temperatures rising to an unsafe level according to the International Energy Agency. The use of fossil fuels in particular is continuing to expand with the Guardian reporting that the countries are on track to produce more than twice as much coal, oil and gas as can be burned in 2030 while restricting the rise in global temperature to 1.5C.

Two studies have predicted severe storm surges will get bigger around parts of the South Island and smaller around the North Island as the climate changes, reports Newsroom.

Zero carbon

Global carpet manufacturer Interface has achieved the environmental ambitions of its Mission Zero sustainability strategy a year ahead of schedule. The company's regional sustainability manager talks to Edie about the success and why businesses need to set "moonshot goals", view the climate emergency through the lens of "climate optimism" and start "loving carbon".

Investment

Steel, the biggest industrial contributor to climate change, needs innovative financing such as “transition bonds” to help pay the massive costs of turning green, according to the head of HSBC’s Centre for Sustainable Finance, reports Reuters.

Energy

The global climate crisis could lead to more renewable electricity being generated by spurring faster wind speeds for the world’s growing number of windfarms, reports the Guardian. In NZ, power company Mercury will spend another $208 million building the country's largest wind farm near Palmerston North. It will add another 27 turbines to make a total of 60 with the capacity to produce 840 gigawatt hours of electricity a year, reports RNZ.

Despite its best efforts to lower power prices, the Government might see a retail rate hike just six months before next year's election, Newsroom reports.

Owners of small-scale power schemes in NZ say some government policies aimed at achieving 100 percent renewable electricity by 2035 are instead hindering progress, reports RNZ.

Construction

As we near the end of the year people are reflecting on 2019 and dishing out awards. Architecture Now profiles 19 building projects that were winners at the 2019 New Zealand Architecture Awards. Stuff profiles the four NZ winners of the Trends International Design Awards for new homes and renovations. Stuff also profiles three of the winners at the 2019 Registered Master Builders House of the Year Awards.

Engineer and author Peter Dyer has released a book investigating NZ's ongoing leaky building scandal, reports Noted.

Australia has developed a “green” cement that could go a long way to cutting the construction industry’s emissions and making it more sustainable, reports The Conversation.

And, in a first for Wellington City Council, concrete from 15 earthquake-prone social housing flats currently being demolished will be recycled, instead of going to landfill. The council has committed to reducing its waste by a third by 2026.

Biomimicry is starting to gain traction in the building design and construction industry, reports Blue Green Tomorrow. Biomimicry refers to a human-made process, device, substance or system that mirrors nature. There is no right or wrong way to incorporate natural elements as a part of biomimicry. This means there’s a lot of room to experiment in the construction industry.

Housing

A Wanaka-based company has launched a modular building system which will allow houses to be constructed in under a week, reports the NZ Herald. Nautilus Modular will produce buildings using interchangeable modules and promises easy assembly that is faster and more efficient than other construction methods. And, the KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Programme reports it is supporting the commercialisation of game-changing framing system that can be disassembled and re-used at the end of a building’s useful life.

The number of new homes being built in Auckland has had a big increase over the past two years, reports Interest. Auckland Council issued 3534 Code Compliance Certificates for new dwellings in the third quarter of this year, up 12.2% compared to the second quarter, up 25.1% compared to the third quarter of last year and up a whopping 82.4% compared to the third quarter of 2017.

Some 24 pensioner units in Mangawhai Heads may be demolished and rebuilt so they meet Government's new Healthy Homes standards, reports Stuff.