These days we’re all looking for ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle, both for ourselves and for our environment. Although building a new home might not seem like the most obvious step in the sustainability direction, the Superhome movement is proving you can build a new home and tick all the eco-boxes.
A common misconception among new home builders is that an energy efficient, sustainably built home is just too expensive. However, although a Superhome will cost slightly more in the up-front investment, it will more than pay off in the long run, saving you money on utility bills, healthcare and reducing your impact on the environment.
Superhomes In NZ
A Superhome is built to be an energy efficient, warm, healthy and sturdy place for you and your family to live, with the added bonuses of minimal running costs and reduced environmental impact.
Superhomes combine clever design with sustainable materials and building practices to ensure long term, high-quality living. Most Superhomes are also energy positive to run – meaning they create more energy than they use over time.
In New Zealand Superhomes are built between a Homestar Rating of 6 and 10. This rating out of 10, is an independent measure of a home’s performance taking into account energy, water, waste, health and the materials used. The more stars a home has, the lower its running costs and environmental impact.
Why Does New Zealand Need Superhomes?
In New Zealand our building standards are not great, in fact, they’ve been described as being around 20 years behind other developed countries in the OECD and creating the ‘worst houses you can legally build’.
Gone are the days of having a stiff upper lip and telling the kids to put on another jersey. New Zealand’s infamous cold and damp houses are not only costing us more to run due to inefficient design and poor quality building materials, but they are contributing to greater levels of sickness, especially among the elderly and young children.
Given the current need for significantly more housing in New Zealand, the Superhome standards are providing the opportunity to rectify our building issues and create healthy, energy efficient homes for future generations.
Superhomes are not only a more sustainable choice across the board, but will also be a major point of difference when selling the property, should you decide to put your home on the market.
Interestingly Peter Wolfkamp, star foreman of TV’s ‘The Block NZ’ has said that the Homestar Rated 6 and 7 homes built in Season 5 of the DIY show (roughly double that of the Homestar 3 rating that is legally required) were his proudest achievement throughout the programme’s seven-year history.
What Makes A Superhome?
When thinking about building a Superhome in New Zealand the following 13 elements need to be considered.
A good ventilation system will control how much moisture lingers in your home, and is essential for keeping you healthy, especially in the colder months.
Using high-quality building materials and airtight construction practices minimises the amount of heat loss, moisture and mould in your home.
Double glazing is pretty common overseas; however, we’ve been a bit slow to jump on the bandwagon down under. High spec and recessed window fittings that are at least double glazed (preferably triple glazed), will greatly help to prevent the dampness, condensation and cold.
Maximising how much sun your home gets, as well as shade, to enable the perfect balance in your home’s design.
Generally the foundations of a Superhome are a little more high-tech than traditional foundations offering a fully edge insulated option with no thermal bridging (an area that enables heat loss).
6. Temperature Control
A heat system that is as energy efficient as possible, keeping your bills low and your home cosy. For example, underfloor heating powered by solar panels.
7. Sustainable Materials
Look out for sustainability certifications as well as products which haven’t been overly processed, such as pine, macrocarpa and eucalyptus woods. Take a look here for more discussion on building with sustainable materials.
8. Moisture Control
Moisture is unavoidable in a home, especially in your kitchen and bathrooms; using water efficient fittings and appliances are just the beginning – a good ventilation system is key to creating a Superhome and keeping moisture at a minimum.
Of New Zealand’s 1.6 million dwellings, an estimated 950,000 have no insulation in the walls. A Superhome utilises high-performance thermal insulation to keep your home toasty in winter and cool in summer.
10. Rainwater Collection
Optimising the use of rainwater, especially in Canterbury where long periods without rainfall are common, means collected water can then be re-used for gardens or greywater purposes, like flushing the toilet.
11. Energy Usage
This is a big one that could save you a lot of money down the line. By using renewable energy sources, such as solar power, as well as energy efficient fittings, you’ll be keeping your bills low as well as reducing your environmental impact. Modern Automated Smart Control technology can also be used restrict your energy use to when it is only needed.
12. Sustainable Construction
Minimising waste and using sustainable building methods will help to reduce the environmental impact of your home, both in the construction phase and once it is completed.
Make the most of what your section has to offer through putting down native plants where possible and growing your own fruit, veggies and herbs.
Planning Your Superhome
Sustainability comes into every aspect of building a Superhome, from your choice of site and material estimates right down to your tapware and lighting selections. Working with experts who are familiar with creating energy efficient, sustainable homes has significant advantages.
The team at Build7 have a wealth of experience in building energy efficient homes that will keep you warm, happy and healthy for years to come. Check out the Build7 eco home building page here or get in touch to discuss the Build7 free design service and we can start weaving sustainability into your home from the get-go.
Why not Meet up for a free coffee and chat with one of the Build7 team, and let’s put some sustainable building plans in motion.