Challenges ahead says Canadian energy efficiency expert

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Canada 20 years ahead of New Zealand in terms of building energy efficient homes


New Zealand homes need improved levels of insulation and ventilation, according to Canadian energy efficiency building expert Bill Crist.

 

Mr Crist spoke with representatives from the construction industry recently about Canada’s “painful learning curve” in legislating and implementing energy efficient homes, and how this knowledge can benefit and assist New Zealand’s building practices.

 

The New Zealand Government is currently reviewing its building code. In May this year Building and Construction Minister Clayton Cosgrove announced a group of proposals around energy efficiency as part of the Government’s programme to:

reduce the amount of energy required to heat new homes,

to heat water in new and existing homes, and

to light, heat, ventilate and air condition commercial buildings.

 

He called for best thinking from the sector to move it forward.

Canada is 20 years ahead of New Zealand in terms of building energy efficient homes. Mr Crist has been active in energy efficient house design and construction for more than 20 years, having built the first R-2000 home in Calgary.

R-2000 homes are the most energy efficient and environmentally responsible new homes on the market, and every R-2000 home is certified by the Canadian Government.

After visiting a number of Auckland homes, Mr Crist observed that, in general, houses in this country have a very low level of insulation and poor ventilation.

New Zealand’s heating systems are generally focused on the main living rooms, shutting off other rooms to often drop to freezing temperatures. Not circulating air and heat within homes leads to condensation, bacteria and mould, ultimately affecting people’s health, Mr Crist says.

He was surprised at how many homes rely on “unvented combustible appliances” — for example, gas heaters which cause excess moisture and toxic fumes in an enclosed space, again affecting New Zealanders’ health.

 


Many opportunities to learn

“With the current and ongoing focus on sustainable fuels and energy efficiency, New Zealand has many opportunities to learn from other countries such as Canada to improve its building standards.

 

“Canada had a painful learning curve through the 70s and 80s, with the cost of heating being the major incentive to improve ventilation systems in house design and construction.”

 

Mr Crist was hosted in New Zealand by HRV, as part of the company’s commitment to raise standards and the awareness and benefits of creating energy efficient homes for New Zealand home owners.