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Major climate change report due

Last big report was 2014.

On 9 August the first part of a major international report on climate change is scheduled to be published. It is the first part of the Sixth Assessment Report published by the IPCC.

The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) is the UN body for assessing the science related to climate change. It has published five comprehensive assessment reports and a number of specific topic reports since 1988. The last big assessment report (the fifth) was published in 2014.

The part of the report due to appear in August considers global research projects on climate change. The IPCC says that “The report will provide the latest assessment of scientific knowledge about the warming of the planet and projections for future warming and assess its impacts on the climate system.” The report is a key backgrounder for the UN climate summit in Glasgow in November.

Two further parts of the Sixth Assessment Report are due early next year. One will cover the impacts climate change is having on human and animal life and another will consider options for action.




New work on low-carbon innovation

Many solutions here now.

A new EECA research paper around innovation and climate change looks at the low-carbon solutions that are already available.

The paper suggests some ‘safe picks’ that come with commercial availability and well accepted potential for significant impact but are still at a low adoption stage. This is a mix of technologies and practice changes.

For buildings, priorities are electrification, improving energy performance, smart demand management and decarbonisation of construction. Specifically:

  • Heat pumps for both space and water heating
  • Low-carbon material alternatives
  • Modularity and prefabrication
  • Higher performing windows (double glazing, low-emissivity coatings)
  • Heat and moisture exchange panels
  • LEDs
  • Design: Dynamic simulation, design specifically adapted for wood as the main material
  • Demand management
  • Thermal storage: Hot and cold for large buildings
  • Smart building management systems.

You can download the report Innovation and the transition to a low carbon future from here.




Over 30,000 home PV systems

Almost triples in 5 years.

At 31 May the number of residential photovoltaic systems installed was 30,420. This is an increase from 25,903 a year earlier and 10,503 just 5 years ago.

The new systems being installed are also increasing in size, from an average 3.3 kW in 2016 to 5.4 kW in 2021.

There has also been a trend of increasing capacity among PV systems installed by small and medium enterprises.

There were 350 PV installations on non-domestic buildings in the last 12 months, figures from the Electricity Authority showed.




Northland updates hazard maps

7500 more homes at risk.

Northland Regional Council has released a new update to the region’s coastal erosion and coastal flooding maps.

The maps show areas that may be prone to coastal erosion and flooding within 50 and 100 years. The council has used new data from aerial surveys and extended the areas covered by the mapping, with 11 new sites for coastal erosion mapping and the entire regional coastline now covered for coastal flooding. The result is that many more properties have been identified as at-risk.

The maps will be finalised in mid-July. After that, district councils are required to use the maps to develop rules and policies for managing coastal hazard risks. The information will become part of property information records including LIMs and PIMs.
You can find more information here.




Thermal bridging in walls

Is the answer 2 layers of insulation?

The findings of the second part of a research project into thermal bridging in external timber-framed walls have just been published.

Part 1 of the Beacon Pathway study found that the average percentage of timber framing in external walls in new houses is over 34%, much higher than the 14-18% generally assumed. The results strongly suggest that designed R-values are not being achieved in practice.

Part 2 research just published found that there is little in the way of ‘unnecessary’ timber added to framing. Each piece of timber is added for valid regulatory and practical reasons. Optimising the percentage of framing will not lead to a sufficient reduction in framing (and thermal bridging) to achieve Building Code construction R-value minimums.

Five sample houses complying with the Building Code were modelled. The findings confirm that the thermal resistance of external walls is well below the levels set out in Building Code clause H1/AS1 and below the required minimum of R1.5 set out in clause E3/AS1. Wall panels with large areas of thermal bridging and weak points resulted in excessive heat loss and present a condensation and mould risk.

An alternative approach that will resolve many of the issues is to install an additional thermal layer on the inside or outside of the existing wall system. This creates a thermal break between the timber framing and the external environment as well as providing space to increase the thickness of the insulation.

You can download the report at no cost here and find a bulletin outlining possible solutions here.