Clay Block – NZ’s Best Green Homes

Porotherm Harakeke Drive Project - March 2020

Recent world events will make The Green Movement in building even more relevant as we face a global war on health. For years now, many people and organisations have discussed the importance of healthy buildings but how far have we really come in NZ?

Why will ‘green’ be even more important now than ever?

We are all quite familiar with the features which can make a building ‘green’ such as use of energy & resources, renewable energy, sustainability and waste reduction.  The US Environmental Protection Agency [69] defines green buildings as ‘the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle’.

Our homes are our sanctuary and as we have been working from home for almost a month now – there is very likely to be a strong movement to run home based businesses and or/employment from home offices. Now, more than ever – we need energy efficient, healthy, durable and acoustic homes.

For years, we have been inundated by NZ’s leaking homes problem causing chronic respiratory issues. Environmentally, many building professionals understand the urgent need for sustainable, energy efficient buildings. There are a few critical elements to a building that timber frame construction still struggles to deliver on.

1.    Promoting health and well-being – delivering good indoor air quality through ventilation, avoiding materials & chemicals that create harmful or toxic emissions. Designing for ears as well as eyes – proper sound insulation is important for helping concentration, recuperation and peaceful enjoyment of the building. Creating the right consistent indoor temperature, all year round will minimise energy requirement

2.    Considering all stages of a building’s whole life-cycle – this is not just about the design to construction, operation & maintenance but extends to end of life and what our expectation should be. A 10-year warranty or 150-year plus life expectancy?

3.    Creating resilient and flexible structures – adapting to changing climate, resilience to flooding, earthquakes or fires. Standing the test of time.

4.    Connecting communities and people – creating diverse environments that connect and enhance communities, asking what a building will add to its context in terms of positive economic and social effects.

If we can build particularly green clay block homes at a competitive price to timber frame and then compare that to the construction, energy, maintenance and carbon footprint of timber frame homes right through to the long-term health and well-being of families– would this be a good ‘fabric-first’ option for building green homes in NZ?

To read more about POROTHERM Clay Block construction, click here.

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