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Rising energy bills and the need for warmer, drier, healthier homes has spurred Hastings District Council to launch a pilot project aimed at encouraging the construction of more energy-efficient homes.
Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule today officially launched the initiative called Best Home® announcing a show home was under construction in Havelock North that would exceed current building regulations to achieve a minimum six stars on the Homestar™ energy efficiency rating tool for no more than 5% additional cost of a standard build. (Most new-builds today achieve a three or four star rating out of a possible 10).
“The cost of living is increasing, our energy bills continue to soar and more people are becoming savvy about the long-term benefits of sustainable housing,” said Mr Yule adding that Council’s 2009 Sustainable Communities consultation process revealed concerns about energy demands and climate change.
“The problem is that there is a common misconception that the initial financial outlay to build sustainably is extremely expensive, but this doesn’t have to be the case.
“A Best Home® will be designed and constructed to be warmer, drier and healthier in winter, while remaining cool and comfortable in the summer, without having to rely solely on mechanical devices,” he said.
Council had partnered with local building company, Horvath Homes, who had begun construction of the 187sqm show home under the guidance of building research organisation, Beacon Pathways Ltd.
The Best Home initiative, which had the potential to be adopted by all councils, was targeted at builders and designers and would offer a complete one-stop-shop integrated package of tools and resources to help them achieve a minimum six star build. Included within the package was a green tape building consent process whereby Council would process plans meeting Best Home criteria within five working days.
“As well as using construction methods that will reduce landfill waste by 75%, the show home will be the subject of a case study to help us package together the Best Home ‘took kit’ to make it easier for industry professionals to get on board,” Mr Yule.
Research has demonstrated that 42% of kiwis say their home is mouldy, 60% say their home is neither warm nor comfortable and 24% say their home negatively impacts on their health.
Mr Yule said it was critical the building industry was better supported at local government level if more professionals were to step into the sustainable housing market.
“There are many green initiatives and tools out there to better educate us about sustainable living, but no complete support package for builders and designers that focuses solely on new builds.
“Best Home intends to fill this gap starting at local government level by introducing the green tape consent process and support package so that we start to improve New Zealand’s housing stock from today forward.”
Horvath Homes director Adam Horvath said he was proud to be involved in the pilot project, which arose out of his submission about sustainable building initiatives during council’s consultation process.
“From our experience demand for more sustainable homes is just sky rocketing yet there are few builders out there that actually offer explicit eco-offers and that could due to concerns about extra cost,” said Mr Horvath.
“We simply don’t think there should be a monopoly in the market because building sustainably is smarter building, period.
“We are learning a lot as part of this pilot project thanks to the various technical experts involved and that is fantastic because the outcomes will benefit everyone.”
Mr Horvath said Best Home® was unique because it would not be exclusive to any one builder or designer.
“Best Home will deliver value to builders and designers in a way that will be practical and immediately useful in the market without all the bureaucratic red tape that we can become a bit numb to at times,” he said.
Council’s intention for Best Home® is for the not-for-profit model to become independently administered so that it could be easily adopted by any local authority. If the pilot is successful, Best Home will be offered to industry professionals through an annual voluntary licensed membership system.