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Final climate change advice released

It applies to existing buildings too.

The final advice of the Climate Change Commission to Government was tabled in Parliament in early June. Recommendations that affect the construction industry include:

  • Extending MBIE’s Building for Climate Change work programme (which currently focuses on new buildings) to also cover existing buildings.
  • Making continuous improvements to minimum Building Code requirements such as energy efficiency standards.
  • Encouraging construction based on low-emission designs and practices.
  • Scaling up energy efficiency assistance to low-income households.
  • Making it compulsory for existing commercial and public buildings to take part in energy performance programmes.

While the Commission’s draft advice earlier in the year said that there should be no new natural gas grid connections or bottled LPG connections after 2025, its final advice takes a softer tone. The Commission recommends in more general terms that New Zealand phase down use of fossil gas [natural gas] in existing residential, commercial and public buildings and avoid the addition of new fossil gas demand from new buildings.

The Government has until 31 December 2021 to set emissions budgets and release the country’s first emissions reduction plan detailing policies to achieve the budgets.

The Commission says that currently New Zealand is not on track to meet its carbon commitments. “Achieving the emissions reductions needed to get to 2050 will require our elected officials to move fast to implement a comprehensive plan.”
You can find the Commission’s advice here.



Updated plumbing/drainage standards

Four new publications just out.

Standards New Zealand has just published new versions of the four-part Plumbing and Drainage standard:

While it will be a good idea for industry practitioners to become familiar with the new documents, using them in building consent applications before they are referenced as a means of compliance with the Building Code would be as an alternative solution.

The previous AS/NZS 3500:2018 versions currently remain in force as means of complying with Building Code clauses E1, G12 and G13 (with some modifications).

The 2021 versions of AS/NZS 3500 are expected to come into effect as a means of compliance in November 2022.

The updated AS/NZS 3500.0:2021 – Plumbing and drainage, Part 0: Glossary of terms was published in February.



Passive House open days in June

Add 25–27 June to your diary.

The open house events are organised by Passive House Institute NZ (PHINZ) Te Tōpūtanga o te Whare Korou ki Aotearoa.

“We are hopeful that covid conditions in Aotearoa NZ will allow these to take place in person this year.”

PHINZ says that some sites may still be under construction, requiring visitors to have the appropriate footwear and clothing. The list of homes that will be open is still being developed.

The open days are part of an international event. You can find more information about Passive Homes here.



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.