News Items

News Archive


EECA lists approved EV chargers

Based on efficiency, smartness.

EECA has published a list of approved EV smart chargers recommended for residential and commercial use. The EV chargers on the list meet the specifications developed to ensure chargers have connectivity, aren’t locked into proprietary systems, and will work with a demand flexible system in future. Smart chargers also enable faster and safer at-home charging (compared to a 3-pin plug) and help EV owners take advantage of cheaper off-peak electricity rates.

24 March 2024




C&D waste focus in Auckland plan

Resource recovery boosted.

Auckland’s Draft Waste Management and Minimisation Plan 2024–2030 has been released, and it includes a target around construction and demolition waste. Plans include promoting deconstruction rather than demolition, promoting construction products that have greater reuse/recycling opportunities, promoting and enforcing site practices to reduce waste escaping into the environment and advocating that the government introduce mandatory site waste management plans. (The government is already working on this.)

The draft document describes establishing two resource recovery parks by 2031 while supporting the existing resource recovery network. Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland aspires to be zero waste by 2040, built on a circular economy.

24 March 2024




Water meters identify big leaks

Millions saved on upgrade.

New Plymouth District Council has installed about 13,000 residential water meters out of 26,000 planned, and in the process has identified and helped stop leaks totalling 463 m³ a day – the equivalent of around 68 Olympic swimming pools a year.

Fixing the leaks has significantly reduced peak water demand, and a $4 million upgrade of the pump station and pipeline that was being considered has now been put off.

24 March 2024




Coastal climate change plan updated

Includes new sea rise data.

The Government has released updated coastal hazards and climate change guidance. The guidance should be considered in building planning and consenting and flood risk management. This guidance uses a 10-step decision cycle that allows for short-term and long-term planning, adaptive pathways and decision making for coastal areas affected by coastal hazards and climate change.

The new document updates guidance produced in 2017. The Ministry for the Environment says that broader guidance on practical steps to take as part of the adaptation process is expected to be published later in 2024.

24 March 2024




Seismic changes in building design

Update of NZS 1170.5.

Future changes in the seismic design of apartment blocks, office and commercial buildings and other structures are flagged in the publication of technical specification TS 1170.5 Structural design actions - Part 5: Earthquake actions - New Zealand. The standard NZS 1170.5 helps engineers design structures that comply with Building Code’s earthquake resistance requirements. It is referenced in Building Code clause B1 Structure.

The new technical specification significantly increases requirements, including lifting design seismic loads for many locations and changing the way ground conditions are allowed for. The changes come after a reassessment of earthquake shaking hazard in a revision of the National Seismic Hazard Model released in 2022. Estimates of the likelihood of future earthquake shaking hazard increased throughout most of the country, ranging from almost no change to more than doubling in some areas. GNS Science said that, on average, results had increased by 50% or more from previous modelling.

TS 1170.5 will be published and available during a transition period as an alternative solution for demonstrating Building Code compliance. Standards NZ says that TS 1170.5 lets engineers voluntarily road test, and put into practice, new technical specifications in the context of the updated NSHM. It is likely to eventually become mandatory.

25 February 2024




Fire safety in mass timber buildings

Design help released.

Timber Unlimited has published Fires safety in multi-storey mass timber structures to provide interim recommendations for multi-storey mass timber structures to supplement the use of Acceptable Solution C/AS1 and Verification Method C/VM2. The document is intended to give guidance to architects, developers and the building industry, providing recommendations for an emerging area of building construction.

25 February 2024




Increases in the waste levy coming

Class 1 and class 2.

From 1 July 2024 the waste levy for construction and demolition fill (class 2) rises from $20 per tonne (excluding GST) to $30 per tonne, and for municipal landfill (class 1) from $50 to $60 per tonne (excluding GST).

Half of the levy money collected goes to city and district councils to spend on waste minimisation activities; the balance, less administrative costs, is added to the Waste Minimisation Fund.

25 February 2024




Regulations around engineered stone?

Australian ban from 1 July.

WorkSafe says it has contributed to advice for the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety about options for regulatory intervention in the engineered stone sector in New Zealand.

Australia’s Work Health and Safety and Workplace Relations Ministers have agreed to ban the use, supply and manufacture of all engineered stone from 1 July 2024. Dust generated from working with engineered stone (commonly used in kitchen benchtops) can cause potentially fatal diseases. In Australia, of the 4,743 workers screened, approximately 11% received a probable or confirmed diagnosis of silicosis because of workplace exposure to crystalline silica dust.

The health risks apply in the New Zealand engineered stone industry too. As of 1 August 2023, 190 claims had been lodged with ACC for assessment of accelerated silicosis, which can develop within 3–10 years of exposure to crystalline silica dust.

The Australian ban applies to engineered stone, which contains up to 97% crystalline silica. While natural stones used for benchtops also contain crystalline silica, it is at much lower levels – typically around 30% for granite and 2–5% for marble.

25 February 2024


Government flags big changes

A major shift in direction.

The Coalition Government agreement between the National and ACT parties makes the Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS) optional for councils.

Other key parts of the party agreements that affect the construction industry include:

  • Repealing the Natural and Built Environment Act 2023 and the Spatial Planning Act 2023.
  • Amending the Resource Management Act 1991 to make it easier to consent new infrastructure including renewable energy and get more houses built.
  • Introducing financial incentives for councils to enable more housing, including considering sharing a portion of GST collected on new residential builds with councils.
  • Legislating a requirement for councils to ratify any use of MDRS, including existing zones.
  • Exploring allowing home builders to opt out of needing a building consent provided they have long-term insurance for the building work.

21 December 2023




Embodied carbon assessments published

Examples to help industry.

MBIE has published embodied carbon assessments completed for a Nelson townhouse development, offices and a school building as examples for industry.

MBIE says the examples outline which building elements accounted for the most significant embodied carbon emissions. “These insights can support design teams and others in the construction sector, to reduce the embodied carbon of future buildings they work on.”

You can find the assessments on the Building Performance website.

21 December 2023




Milestones in solar, wind generation

Renewable energy boom.

In the last week of November the first megawatts of solar power were sold on the wholesale electricity market. The generation came from Lodestone Energy’s Kaitaia solar farm, which aims to produce 56GWh of energy each year. While New Zealand has over 300MW of solar power connected to the grid, Kaitaia is the first generator big enough to connect to the transmission system and sell into the wholesale electricity market.

Over 200MW of solar generation capacity is under construction. Transpower says it has received connection enquiries for more than 8000MW in solar projects.

November also saw milestones in wind generation, when the share of weekly generation coming from wind hit a record 13.3%. The total wind generation across a week reached more than 100GWh for the first time.

21 December 2023




Simple guide to flood risk assessments

Auckland Council guidance.

If you’ve ever wondered about what gives a flood risk house a category rating of 1 or 2P or 2C or 3, Auckland Council has published a very short and simple guide.

The categories were developed in 2023 following the Auckland floods and Cyclone Gabrielle.

They are:
Category 1 – the overall risk to life at a property is low.
Category 2P – there is an intolerable risk to life at a property but there are feasible changes the property owner could make to their property to reduce the risk.
Category 2C – there is an intolerable risk to life at a property but there are feasible changes the council could make in the community to reduce the risk.
Category 3 – there is an intolerable risk to life at a property and no feasible changes that would reduce the risk to life.

21 December 2023



Building Code compliance amendments

Protection from fire, plumbing.

MBIE has amended Acceptable Solutions C/AS1, C/AS2, F7/AS1 and Verification Method C/VM2. Amongst other changes, the amended C/AS1 and C/AS2 cite NZS 4514: 2021 for the installation of interconnected smoke alarms in new residential homes.

MBIE has also amended acceptable solutions and verification methods for E1 Surface Water, G12 Water Supplies and G13 Foul Water. Among the changes, the latest version of the AS/NZS 3500 plumbing and drainage standards have been made part of the compliance pathways.

06 November 2023




Houses with poor indoor air quality

NIWA tracks the problem.

A NIWA study has found that some homes contain 3 times more particulate matter from smoke and other pollutants than others.

NIWA’s principal scientist for air quality Dr Ian Longley says that it is not necessarily where the pollution is created that poorer air quality is found. Rather, it tends to settle where the wind transports it. “Air also settles into valleys, even shallow ones, meaning that even in relatively flat towns…you get more pollution in lower areas of land.”

NIWA hopes the study will help councils set regulation and design solutions for good indoor air quality. “Although we can use filtration to scrub indoor air clean, it is always better to stop or reduce pollution at its source. Switching to electric heating will remove heating emissions entirely, while keeping chimneys clean, using dry or ultra-low emission wood, and using pellet burners are a few other steps that people can take that will help.”  

    06 November 2023




    Stand-alone house consents plunge

    Down 27% year-on-year.

    In the year ended September 2023 there were 16,619 stand-alone houses consented, down 27% compared with the year ended September 2022. Multi-unit home consents (23,789) were down 15%.

    There were 7.8 new homes consented nationally per 1,000 residents in the year ended September 2023, compared with 9.9 in the year ended September 2022. The 2023 figure remains higher than the long-term average, which is 6.7 homes consented per 1,000 residents between 1966 and 2023.


    06 November 2023




    NZ lags global retrofit targets

    NZGBC pushes for action.

    The NZ Green Building Council says the new Government needs to put a rocket under MBIE’s Building for Climate Change programme.

    “Ireland, a country the same size as NZ, has a goal to retrofit 500,000 homes by 2030…

    The IEA (International Energy Agency) sets a goal of 20% of all buildings and homes retrofitted to low carbon levels by 2030. For Aotearoa this would mean 360,000 households in the space of six years, or 60,000 homes per year starting now.”

    “In terms of retrofits New Zealand is lagging behind…This has to be our next chapter.”


    06 November 2023




    BRANZ scholarships open

    Funding for postgrad work.

    Each year, BRANZ offers funding opportunities to exceptional postgraduate scholars in Aotearoa New Zealand's tertiary institutions. This scholarship programme not only adds diversity to the BRANZ portfolio of investments but also supports future research and strengthens relationships with tertiary education providers. Scholarships are open until Monday 20 November 2023.

    Current scholars are conducting research on a wide range of topics including low-carbon construction, sustainable building, home maintenance, environmental resilience and mental health and wellbeing.

    06 November 2023



    The cost of storms to come

    A new report looks ahead.

    A new report into our climate and atmosphere says there will be rising costs from increasing severe weather events driven by warming atmospheric and ocean temperatures. Total damage from 2023’s Cyclone Gabrielle and Auckland flooding is already estimated to have cost $9–14.5 billion.

    The Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ jointly produced the report, Our atmosphere and climate 2023. It says that around 750,000 people and 500,000 buildings, worth more than $145 billion, are near rivers and in coastal areas already exposed to extreme flooding. Atmospheric rivers are projected to continue to get bigger and carry more moisture which can result in highly destructive rainfall, flooding, landslides and rockslides.

    The report quotes research indicating that while the frequency of tropical cyclones in the South Pacific will decrease slightly, the ones that do hit are likely to be more severe.

    20 October 2023




    Gaps in drinking water protection

    27 councils put on notice.

    The drinking water regulator Taumata Arowai has found that there are 27 councils operating 84 drinking water supplies that lack a treatment barrier preventing protozoa bugs from contaminating the water. The regulator has said that it expects protozoa barriers to be in place in these areas for surface water sources by 31 December 2024 and for bores by 31 December 2025.

    This follows an outbreak of disease in Queenstown that is believed to be linked to drinking water. The Queenstown Lakes District Council issued a boil water notice for certain areas it supplies with drinking water. Queenstown’s water supply comes from Lake Wakatipu.

    20 October 2023




    Reusable framing takes award 

    Fewer materials and waste.

    XFrame and Wellington UniVentures were among the winners of the 11th annual KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards  for their reusable framing.

    Every component of the XFrame system is designed to be disassembled and reused at the end of the building lifecycle. This moves the building sector to a circular economy, with the potential to eliminate waste and reduce the consumption of raw materials.

    The system was developed by Ged Finch while completing his Master’s in Architecture at Victoria University of Wellington. The development of X-Frame has received recognition and support from many agencies, including support from the Building Research Levy.

    20 October 2023




    Better info coming on waste

    Helping reduce the volumes.

    Construction and demolition waste makes up 40–50% of New Zealand’s total waste going to landfill, according to government and council documents. Each home constructed generates an average of four tonnes of waste. Reducing that volume would greatly help the industry reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and save money at the same time.

    Among the changes being implemented from 1 July 2024, facility operators will be required to report on the source of waste, such as construction. There will also be changes for volume-to-weight conversion factors. For sites that do not have a weighbridge, the categories for types of waste or diverted materials will be expanded on. Territorial authorities will need to report on how they spend the waste levy and their waste minimisation activities.  

    The new regulations amend the information requirements and calculation and payment of waste disposal levy regulations made under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008. 

    20 October 2023




    Modular buildings in the spotlight

    Made locally and imported.

    It has long been known that off-site construction offers big benefits such as greater precision, vastly reduced waste and less rework. A growing number of MDH projects in New Zealand are now being put together with modules or ‘pods’ that are built off site.

    A 63-unit Kāinga Ora development in Auckland is using factory-built modules from China. The 1-bedroom modules will be connected via structural plates and bolts through 10 connection points for each apartment. A crane will also lift stairwells, lift shafts and walkways into place. Each level has concrete walls that allow the building to stabilise in the event of seismic activity. Aluminium cladding will be installed once all modules are in place.

    Also in Auckland, Property Partners Group is constructing 3, 6-storey buildings using modules. Each two-bedroom apartment is made of two modules and the buildings will be clad in brick and profiled metal. The modules are constructed in New Zealand in a factory in Wiri using local timber products. The current facility is regarded as a pilot plant, with a purpose-built automated factory on the drawing boards.

    20 October 2023




    BRANZ Insulation Guide updated

    New wall and roof options.

    An updated version of the BRANZ House Insulation Guide 6th edition was released in August.

    Version updates include:

    • extra options for secondary insulation layers
    • polyester and wool material options have been added to roof edge insulation compression
    • more options for the wall makeup
    • two insulation layer option for roof space insulation.

    The Guide is available in PC, Mac and Online versions, with an explanatory text document separately downloadable.

    22 September 2023




    Boom for solar generation forecast

    Solar farms coming.

    The 296 MW of currently installed solar generation in New Zealand is about to expand rapidly, not only with new rooftop solar systems but with two small solar farms. The Electricity Authority says that all the current solar installations that export surplus electricity feed into their local distribution networks (‘distributed generation’) rather than connecting directly to the national grid. Some of the solar farms under construction or being planned will connect directly to the grid.

    The solar farms and ongoing rooftop installations could add 120 MW in the next year or so – a big increase to existing capacity.

    A 2023 report by Transpower says that grid-scale solar could rapidly outpace distributed solar in Aotearoa New Zealand.

    Solar generation has zero greenhouse gas emissions while it is generating electricity but the intermittent nature of solar and wind generation mean that other generation or storage technologies are required. You can find details of how this can be managed on this recent Electricity Authority web page.

    22 September 2023




    Promoting batteries for PV systems

    Should the government help?

    A recent government consultation document, Measures For Transition To An Expanded And Highly Renewable Electricity System, asks whether government should do more to encourage households to install batteries to store electricity.

    The document points out that in Australia, nearly a third of all households have solar energy systems. Battery system uptake is also growing fast there, with over 180,000 households reported to have a local storage system as at March 2023. Many Australian states also regulate feed-in tariffs, the minimum rates electricity retailers pay households for electricity that households exported to the grid.

    Submissions are open until 2 November. You can find more details about the document Measures For Transition To An Expanded And Highly Renewable Electricity System here.

    22 September 2023




    Insurers influence construction locations

    Responding to flood risk.

    House insurers are expanding risk-based insurance pricing, partly with the intention of discouraging people from building or buying homes in areas at risk of natural hazards. One insurer has announced it will no longer cover some homes at high risk of damage from future weather events.

    This year several insurance companies have introduced or broadened systems allowing them to risk-rate individual homes for natural hazards such as flooding. For example, Tower customers receive a low, medium or high rating for their home, reflecting the potential risk of a flood. Tower says that its modelling means it can predict the impact on an individual property based on how it is constructed, its height, number of floors and materials.

    In addition to flood risk, some companies are also developing tools to account for landslide and coastal hazard risks that are being made worse by climate change.

    One MBIE-funded research project found that some home would be effectively uninsurable from 2030, with a conservative estimate of 10,000 homes in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin being uninsurable by 2050.

    In September, the insurer IAG said that it would not offer ongoing insurance for properties in Category 3, those at high risk of damage from future weather events. The category framework was developed by the government following major weather events in early 2023.

    21 August 2023




    Will NZ be the last country

    Selling incandescent bulbs?

    Since 1 August, Americans have no longer been able to buy incandescent light bulbs. From Nepal to North Korea, Cuba to Chile, Ecuador to the European Union, the wildly inefficient bulbs have been banned from sale in a wide range of countries. But not New Zealand.

    The problem is that incandescent lamps (which have a wire filament that is heated until it gives off light) are basically the same today as when they were invented over 100 years ago. Most of their energy output is radiated as heat rather than light. In comparison, LEDs are typically 75–80% more efficient. Around 13% of the energy consumed in New Zealand homes is used by lighting.

    There have been government-funded programmes in New Zealand encouraging the uptake of LED bulbs, but no ban in incandescent bulbs, which are still widely available and widely sold.

    22 September 2023




    Insulation retrofit scheme expands

    More homes now eligible.

    The government has expanded eligibility criteria for the Warmer Kiwi Homes scheme. An estimated additional 58,000 low-income homeowners can now access funding, and the proportion of the retrofit cost has also been increased.

    Grants were previously set at 80% of the cost of insulation, and up to 80% for heating, capped at $3,000 for those living in an area with a ‘Deprivation Index’ of 8, 9, or 10. The change means insulation grants have been extended to include level 7. Further, those in levels 9 or 10 – and Community Services Card holders – will now be eligible for a grant that is 90% of the cost of an insulation retrofit.

    The Warmer Kiwi Homes scheme was also expanded in the 2023 Budget to cover components such as hot water heating upgrades and LED lighting.

    21 August 2023




    The cost benefit of sponge cities

    New report out.

    The Helen Clark Foundation in partnership with WSP in New Zealand has published a report looking at sponge cities from an Aotearoa New Zealand perspective.

    Sponge cities complement conventional engineering infrastructure by ‘daylighting’ streams, reducing impervious surfaces, enhancing green spaces and implementing green infrastructure.

    Recommendations in the report include initiating small-scale incremental adoption of green infrastructure as a pragmatic starting point for all towns.

    21 August 2023




    Concrete industry aims for net-zero carbon

    2050 Roadmap released.

    Aotearoa New Zealand’s concrete industry has launched a roadmap to net zero carbon by 2050.

    The roadmap was developed for the industry by consultants thinkstep-anz, which says that the industry can achieve a 44% decrease from 2020 carbon levels by 2030 and net-zero carbon two decades later. Strategies to achieve this include:

    • Increased use of waste as an alternative fuel and raw material for clinker.
    • Replacement of some Portland cement in concrete with supplementary cementitious materials.
    • Decarbonisation of electricity grid and supply chains.
    • Efficiencies in production, design and construction.
    • Capturing remaining CO2.

    21 August 2023




    Timber Design Centre rebrands

    New website launched.

    Timber Unlimited is the new branding for the old Timber Design Centre and it has a new website.

    The Centre was established in 2022 to provide expert advice, research, information and educational resources around the use of timber in construction. It is an initiative of Te Uru Rākau New Zealand Forest Service, Scion, the Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association, New Zealand Timber Design Society and BRANZ.

    Resources available on the website include an extensive range of design guides and tools supporting beam and column design.

    21 August 2023




    Report out on managed retreat

    Advice will go into policy.

    The Expert Working Group on Managed Retreat has issued a report on a proposed system for planned relocation.

    This involves the strategic withdrawal of human activities and associated assets from locations at risk of harm from flooding, sea level rise and the like. The Working Group’s objective is to develop detailed design options for an equitable and enduring managed retreat system. Although most instances of community relocation so far have occurred after a natural disaster, in the future, relocation will become increasingly necessary before a disaster takes place.

    The report includes a list of specific recommendations. The Working group says that: “There will have to be a broad consensus – a multi-party approach – to addressing climate change issues. They cannot be dealt with on the basis of the usual electoral cycles.”

    21 August 2023




    Green Star Buildings draft released

    New rating requirements.

    The first draft of Green Star Buildings for Aotearoa New Zealand has been released.

    Te Kaunihera Hanganga Tautaiao New Zealand Green Building Council says: “Green Star Buildings NZ will introduce 16 minimum expectations that must be achieved by all projects to achieve a Green Star rating. These are aimed at ensuring all Green Star rated buildings meet a basic definition of a green building (energy efficient, water efficient, good healthy spaces, built responsibly, and on sites that are not critical natural areas).”

    The consultation document “highlights the changes made to develop a certification tool that supports a low carbon future while extending beyond traditional measures of environmental sustainability to recognise property and building owners, contractors and developers, and their wider project teams for initiatives in social governance.”

    The consultation closes 15 September 2023. The scheme is due to be introduced in 2024.

    You can find the details here.

    03 August 2023




    Assessing energy and water use

    MBIE’s new methodology.

    As part of its Building for Climate Change programme, MBIE has just published a new document, Operational Efficiency Assessment: Technical Methodology.

    This provides a method for calculating the operational efficiency of a new building. The aim is to measure and then reduce carbon emissions from the use of energy and water in buildings, while also improving indoor environmental qualities for occupants.  “This technical methodology is intended to support a common measurement approach and consistency for assessing operational efficiency across the sector.”

    The document refers to an energy modelling protocol that MBIE says it will develop in consultation with technical experts. Work on this is now underway.

    This new technical methodology sits alongside the already-published Whole-of-Life Embodied Carbon Assessment: Technical Methodology.

    You can find a PDF of the new document here.

    21 July 2023




    Construction added to Climate Toolbox

    Online calculator expanded.

    The Climate Action Toolbox, a free online calculator that helps small businesses measure and reduce their emissions, has been expanded with new content specifically designed to help the construction industry.

    Since its launch in 2021 the Toolbox has been used by over 42,000 people.

    The team behind the Toolbox collaborated with construction industry players to ensure that the tool includes actions for businesses working at every stage of the construction supply chain.

    You can find the Toolbox here.

    13 July 2023




    282,395 houses in flood hazard areas

    Replacement value $213b.

    Research by NIWA and the University of Auckland has found that 12% of New Zealand's housing value is in flood hazard areas.

    The figures are made up of 282,395 houses valued at $213 billion and 158,989 other buildings such as sleepouts and sheds on residential properties. Auckland and Canterbury account for around half the buildings.

    The report only looked at known flood hazard areas that had already been mapped, which meant that the actual number could be higher. However it also included areas protected by stop banks and the like, where flooding would only take place in very rare circumstances.

    You can find the report on the ScienceDirect website.

    13 July 2023




    BRANZ Maps platform update

    The tool has a new address.

    The BRANZ Maps tool has been updated to the latest ArcGIS framework and has a new URL. If you have bookmarked this page you will need to update it.

    BRANZ Maps is a very popular tool that shows a range of information for a specific location, including:

    • parcel IDs
    • legal description
    • full address
    • earthquake zone
    • exposure (corrosion risk) zone
    • climate zone
    • 10-minute rainfall intensity
    • wind region
    • wind zone (experimental)
    • lee zone.

    The new address for BRANZ maps is:

    06 July 2023




    Climate change increases landslide risk

    Extreme rainfall the cause.

    A new study has found that the intense rainfall brought by climate change is likely to lead to an increased risk of landslides in New Zealand.

    Claims for landslip damage are already the most common claims received by Toka Tū Ake EQC.

    The report found that land cover and slope have a large influence on the risk of shallow landslides. The research modelling showed that tree cover could help lower the risk, regardless of landscape or rainfall levels.

    You can find the research here.

    04 July 2023




    Kāinga Ora passive homes built

    Huge energy savings.

    An 18-unit MDH project in Mangere is the first Passive House pilot development for Kāinga Ora.

    The homes in Bader Ventura have a reduced operational carbon footprint of around 35% and reduced space heating electricity use by around 62% compared with a standard 6 Homestar Kāinga Ora home. The homes aim to achieve the Passive House standard and an 8 Homestar rating. Over the next 12 months, indoor air temperature and humidity, air quality, hot water and electricity usage will be measured.

    Kāinga Ora board chair Vui Mark Gosche said his organisation is having an impact on the construction industry as a whole. Once this approach to construction becomes standard at Kāinga Ora, it becomes cheaper for the wider industry as builders become used to doing it and supply chains gain confidence.

    You can read more on the Kāinga Ora website.

    30 June 2023




    Builders exposed to carcinogens

    Survey measures risks.

    The first survey looking at carcinogens (substances that can cause cancer) in the working population has found that construction workers are one of the three occupational groups exposed to the highest average number of carcinogens.

    Carcinogens include substances such as crystalline silica and wood dust and also ultra-violet (UV) light from working outside.

    “Although efforts to reduce exposure to respirable crystalline silica have rightly been focused on the engineered stone-benchtop industry, the survey suggests that 44% of the construction industry are exposed to RCS.”

    The New Zealand Carcinogens Survey covered 4,051 workers.

    You can find more details here.

    23 June 2023




    Guidance on removing flood silt

    New MBIE Quick Guide.

    Flooding earlier this year left many buildings with silt deposits inside and under them.

    This guide explains how silt damages buildings (particularly building element durability and performance) and puts occupant health at risk. It covers work involving subfloor areas, internal linings, cladding and insulation and building services and fixtures.

    You can download a PDF of the Quick Guide here.

    15 June 2023




    Energy self-sufficient marae reopens

    PV, rainwater harvesting.

    A range of separate service buildings on an Invercargill marae have been replaced after a $15 million redevelopment with a new, highly sustainable building.

    The new building at Murihiku Marae was designed to maximise natural light, has solar panels on the roof and includes rainwater harvesting systems. Stormwater treatment is facilitated by wetlands. The new building aims to produce zero emissions.

    The new building will be home for a range of community support services, operate as a civil defence emergency centre and provide a hub for education.

    You can find more information here.

    08 June 2023




    Auckland speeds flood plans

    Nine action areas.

    Auckland is aiming to carry out in six years, flood planning work that would normally take several decades. The Making Space for Water programme sets out nine areas of action, from increased stormwater maintenance and stream rehabilitation to more site-specific solutions for high-risk properties. In some cases, properties in high-risk locations may be purchased. Areas of critical flood risk will be prioritised, but more work is needed to confirm these locations.

    The programme cost is likely to be in excess of $1 billion over six years. Once fully drafted, the programme will go out for public consultation.

    You can read more here.




    New options for sand in concrete

    Demonstration plant in NZ.

    A new manufacturing demonstration plant that turns recycled glass, quarry crusher dust, concrete and slag into sand for new concrete has been built.

    Kayasand built the plant with a $3.5 million equity investment from the Government-owned bank New Zealand Green Investment Finance and $1.8 million of private investment. The company’s technology is used in over 300 plants across Japan, China, India, and Australia.

    Dr Bram Smith, Kayasand General Manager, says the technology can reduce or in some cases eliminate the need for natural sand dredging, using by-products and recycled materials. “Our goal is to reduce carbon emissions from concrete production by up to 20% using this method.” 4 million m3 of concrete is used in New Zealand every year.

    You can read more about the plant here.




    Warmer Kiwi Homes boost

    100,000 installations.

    The Government’s 2023 Budget included an extension and expansion of the Warmer Kiwi Homes programme so it can continue to reach roughly 26,500 homes a year through to 2026/27. Over four years, this will provide more than an estimated 100,000 installations of heating and insulation, 7,500 hot-water heat pumps and 5 million energy-efficient LED light bulbs.

    The new spending expands the scope of the programme to include energy-efficient lighting, water heating retrofits and basic home repairs.

    The Warmer Kiwi Homes programme covers up to 80% of the total cost of ceiling and underfloor insulation and up to 80% of the cost of an approved heater. This could be a heat pump or an efficient wood/pellet burner for the main living area. Heater grants are capped at $3000 including GST.
    The eligibility requirements are:

    • The householder(s) must own the home they live in and it must have been built before 2008.
    • The house must have no ceiling or underfloor insulation at the moment.
    • The homeowner must have a community services card or live in an area identified as lower-income.

    You can find the 2023 Budget here.




    Building Code updates coming

    Plumbing/drainage, fire.

    MBIE will cite the 2021 editions of the AS/NZS 3500 Plumbing and drainage standards as acceptable solutions in November 2023 with a 12-month transition period ending in November 2024. The standards will be cited as compliance pathways through acceptable solutions E1/AS2 (Surface water/Stormwater drainage), G12/AS3 (Water supplies, a new acceptable solution), and G13/AS3 (Foul water/Sanitary plumbing and drainage).

    Interconnected smoke alarms will be adopted as the minimum fire safety system in household units. The amended C/AS1 and C/AS2 will cite NZS 4514: 2021 Interconnected smoke alarms for houses for their installation. The change will come into effect in November 2023 with a 12-month transition period ending in November 2024.

    You can find the details here.




    Emission caps coming

    Consultation likely 2024.

    MBIE is proceeding with plans to introduce mandatory measurement of greenhouse gas emissions in new buildings. At first, just a measurement of emissions will be required with new building consents. At a later stage, a cap on carbon emissions will be introduced, and the intention is that the cap will be lowered over time. The aim is to reduce the carbon footprints of new buildings.

    A likely timeframe, assuming Government funding and support, is:
    2023 – the Building Act is amended to give Government the power to introduce the changes
    2024 – MBIE consults on the proposals
    2025 – a requirement for a measurement of emissions to be a part of new building consent applications is introduced
    2026 – carbon caps will be introduced, and progressively lowered over following years.

    On its website, MBIE includes in its workplan “All buildings built after 2030 have the lowest possible whole of life embodied carbon and operational emissions are near zero.”

    You can find details about MBIE’s Building for climate change programme here.




    Water use continues to rise

    High by world standards.

    Recently-released stats from regions taking part in the Water New Zealand National Performance Review shows household water use has been going up in recent years. An average property now uses 213,000 litres a year.

    That’s higher than many other countries. Australians' average use (outside of the hot dry areas such as Perth and Darwin) ranges from 147,000 to 196,000 litres per property. The largest UK survey of water use puts average annual household water use there at 127,000 litres.

    There is a very clear trend that average water use in the parts of New Zealand that don’t have water meters is higher than the average across those who charge customers through water metering.

    You can find the National Performance Review here.




    Intensification affects flood risk

    Green spaces are crucial.

    A new report from the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment looks closely at how denser housing affects flood risk.

    The report Are we building harder, hotter cities? The vital importance of urban green spaces,
    finds that in the push for housing intensification and massive hard infrastructure projects for transport and water, the importance of green space risks being overlooked or even ignored.

    Recent massive flooding events “have demonstrated the perils of creating large, hardened and impermeable surfaces that simply cannot cope with the sort of precipitation a warmer atmosphere is delivering.”

    Denser, infill housing within the pre-existing boundaries of cities often reduces the remaining amount of private urban green space. This loss of green space is often accompanied by a changed composition, with more lawns and less shrubs. Together, the report says, the two changes can result in a 33% increase in rainwater runoff from a site. This can make urban flooding problems worse.

    You can download the report from the Commissioner’s website.




    Mould in a quarter of houses

    In a third of rentals.

    Recently-released stats show that 23.7% of all households had a minor or major issue with dampness or mould in the year ended June 2022 – but the figure rose to 35.5% for rented homes.

    While 20.3% of all households had a minor or major issue with keeping adequately warm in winter, 31.2% of households that rent had problems staying warm.

    Earlier house condition surveys carried out by BRANZ also found that renters lived in poorer conditions than owner-occupiers. Rental properties were twice as likely to smell damp than owner-occupied houses. Mould was more commonly seen in rentals. (See Study Report 372, Warm, dry, healthy? Insights from the 2015 House Condition Survey (2017)

    The sample size for the 2022 Stats survey was 8,900 households. You can find the recent survey details on this Stats NZ web page.




    Printed concrete passive home

    Up in 5 days.

    A passive house built using 3D printed concrete has been built in Auckland.

    The proprietary system produces 3D printed concrete panels that form two outer faces with webs between them. The panels are trucked to site and are normally craned into position. Reinforcing and infill concrete are placed in the core. Panels are fixed to concrete floors through typical steel reinforced connections and a concrete bond beam is placed around the top of the panels to lock them together. Buildings using the process are subject to specific engineering design.

    For the Auckland house, the company says the walls were printed in 20 hours. From leaving the factory to completing the installation, the process took five days.

    The BRANZ Appraisal for the 3D printing system says the panels themselves should need very little in terms of maintenance beyond inspections (at least annually), repairing any damage and cleaning and reapplying external weatherproofing as necessary.

    You can find the BRANZ Appraisal for the system here.




    Stark news in climate report

    What our industry can do.

    How is this for a sentence with a kick in it: “The choices and actions implemented in this decade will have impacts now and for thousands of years.”

    That’s taken from the final part of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, summarising the state of knowledge of climate change, its widespread impacts and risks, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.

    Of most relevance to construction, the report points to important steps that should be taken that “are technically viable, are becoming increasingly cost effective and are generally supported by the public.” These include:

    • expansion of electricity generation from solar and wind
    • electrification of urban systems
    • more urban green infrastructure
    • greater energy efficiency.

    You can find the report here.




    Boom in renewables

    Clean electricity surge.

    In the last quarter of 2022, renewable electricity generation from sources such as hydro, geothermal and wind made up almost 95% of New Zealand’s electricity generation. That’s a big jump from the June quarter, where it made up only 81%, largely due to the need to burn coal in the earlier period.

    Over recent years the electricity generated from renewables has generally trended upward, from providing 75% of electricity in 2013 to 87% in 2022.

    While generation from smaller renewables such as biogas and wood has scarcely changed, the contribution from others such as geothermal and wind has increased. Geothermal generation made up around 19% of the total in 2022 and wind generation around 6%. Hydro remained the biggest contributor by far, at around 60%. Grid-connected solar has been the fastest growing renewable over recent years, but in 2022 still contributed less than 1% of the total.

    The figures come from recent MBIE statistics.




    Planning for floods, rising seas

    Funding is a critical issue.

    When the Environmental Defence Society (EDS) recently released its paper on managed retreat, its timing couldn’t have been better. The serious flooding in Auckland and around the country meant that the topic of where we should build our homes was already top-of-mind.

    The EDS working paper is the first produced under the Aotearoa New Zealand’s Climate Change Adaptation Act: Building a Durable Future project. The project is developing recommendations for the content of the new Climate Adaptation Act, due to be introduced to Parliament by the end of the year.

    The paper focuses on why managed retreat is needed, its purpose, underlying principles and funding options.

    A separate report prepared by Emeritus Public Policy Professor Jonathan Boston examines the design of a public compensation scheme for residential property losses from managed retreat in more detail.

    You can access both documents here.




    Building Code compliance changes

    MBIE sets update priorities.

    MBIE has named eight Building Code clauses that are being prioritised for updating to facilitate higher-density housing.

    The Ministry says that the majority of today’s Acceptable Solutions and Verification Methods focus on low-density dwellings. Medium or high-density buildings are often outside their scope. The eight clauses – which MBIE refers to as ‘The Higher Density 8 (HD8)’ – are priority areas for change to facilitate higher-density housing.

    The HD8 lineup is:

    • B1 Structure and B2 Durability
    • C Protection from fire
    • E2 External moisture
    • E3 Internal moisture
    • G4 Ventilation
    • G6 Airborne and impact sound
    • G7 Natural light
    • H1 Energy Efficiency



    New homes getting smaller

    10% smaller in a year.

    The median floor area for newly consented homes fell from 140 m2 in 2021 to 126 m2 in 2022, thanks largely to the increased proportion of multi-unit consents
    The median size for multi-unit homes has been consistently around 100 m2 over the last decade, significantly lower than the size of stand-alone homes.

    However, the median floor area of stand-alone homes has also been falling over the longer term, from 204 m2 in 2013 to 179 m2 in 2022.

    Smaller homes use fewer construction materials and are easier to heat. They generally have smaller carbon footprints and are more sustainable.

    You can find consent number details on the Stats NZ website.




    Preparation reduces flood damage

    Urban planning pays off.

    The record levels of rainfall seen in late January and February have put a lot of our built environment to the test. Good urban planning has shown its value.

    Auckland’s January rainfall was the heaviest since records began, with some areas seeing over half a metre of rain fall in just a few weeks. While some suburbs suffered disastrous flooding, others saw relatively little damage.

    The planned development of Hobsonville Point on the upper Waitemata Harbour recorded 348 mm of rain inside a single week. Yet while there was some surface flooding of roads, there was far less damage to houses (and far fewer emergency service callouts) than in other locations.

    Among the reasons for this:

    • There are large ponds that are able to receive considerable volumes of stormwater.
    • There is a considerable area of planting that reduces runoff.
    • A large number of  homes include tanks that collect rainwater from the roof, taking pressure off the stormwater system. The water can be used for toilets, laundry and garden or very slowly released into the public stormwater system.
    • Water-efficient devices in housing help reduce the risk of overflows from the sewage network during heavy rain.

    You can find more about stormwater control and landscaping here.




    Action call on 200,000 homes

    Coalition demands upgrades.

    An alliance of 22 organisations is calling on all political parties to prioritise improvements in the condition of at least 200,000 homes. The aim is to make the houses warmer, drier, healthier and more energy efficient.

    The alliance is made up of organisations including the Green Building Council, the New Zealand Institute of Building, Architectural Designers New Zealand, Passive House Institute New Zealand, SuperHome Movement, eHaus, the Sustainable Business Network and others. The last national census found that more than 300,000 homes were always or sometimes damp, and more than 250,000 had visible mould larger than A4 size.

    You can find more details here.




    BuiltReady guidance released

    Faster consents possible.

    MBIE has released new and updated documents and step-by-step guides for BuiltReady, the voluntary certification scheme for modular components. Products with BuiltReady certification must be accepted as being Building Code-compliant by building consent authorities (BCAs).

    MBIE says that: “A BCA will only need to assess and inspect non-modular building work such as foundations and site work, which could significantly reduce the consent processing time and associated costs.”

    BuiltReady certification can be used in conjunction with MultiProof and the CodeMark product certification scheme. MBIE says that BuiltReady manufacture-only certification used in conjunction with a Multiproof design for a whole building could reduce the consent timeframe to 10 working days.

    You can find more details here.




    Benefits of greenery around housing

    Health gains identified.

    American researchers compared health data on two groups of 60 million people, specifically related to Alzheimer’s disease/dementia and Parkinson’s disease. They then looked at the amount of greenery, park space, lakes, rivers and ponds where the participants lived. All the types of nature exposure were associated with a decreased risk of Parkinson's hospitalisations, and more green space was associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer's.
    While the diseases selected might seem very specific, neurological disorders such as these are a leading cause of disability and one of the leading causes of death worldwide.

    The findings are just the most recent in a considerable body of research showing that green spaces in the areas we live can have a positive impact on our physical and mental health.

    You can find more details here.




    BRANZ H1 tools updated

    Resources to aid compliance.

    A range of updated tools and resources to help industry comply with H1/AS1 and H1/VM1 5th edition, Amendment 1, has started being uploaded to the BRANZ website.

    The resources available right now include:

    • H1 Calculation Method Tool
    • H1 Schedule Method Tool
    • Construction R-values for common construction options. This is available as a spreadsheet for PCs, with a Mac version coming soon.

    The Construction R-values tool is the first element to be released from the 6th edition of the BRANZ House Insulation Guide. Coming shortly is the full online text of the Guide, and a video giving user guidance.

    You can find more details and download the tools from the BRANZ website.




    Government extends healthy homes deadlines

    An extra year given to comply.

    The Government has pushed out the deadlines for final compliance with the healthy homes standards that apply to rental housing:

    • Between 1 July 2021 and 1 July 2025, all private rentals must comply with the healthy homes standards within certain timeframes depending on when the new tenancy starts or is renewed. (The final deadline for private housing was originally set as 1 July 2024.)
    • All houses rented by Kāinga Ora (formerly Housing New Zealand) and registered Community Housing Providers must comply by 1 July 2024 (previously 1 July 2023).

    You can find more details about the details here.




    Waste management planning to be mandatory

    Building Act amendments coming.

    The Government has announced a series of proposed amendments to the Building Act to help the country achieve its climate change goals.

    The changes will include:

    • making it mandatory for a waste minimisation plan to be prepared for certain building or demolition work
    • making energy performance ratings mandatory for new and existing public, industrial and large multi-storey apartment buildings
    • changing the principles and purposes of the Building Act, to clarify that climate change is a key consideration

    A bill introducing the changes will be introduced to Parliament in 2023. The changes will be phased in over time.

    You can find more details about the details here.




    New edition H1 documents in force

    Windows see a major change.

    The latest editions of Acceptable Solutions and Verification Methods for Building Code clause H1 Energy efficiency are now in force. The old 4th edition can no longer be used.

    The new documents have six climate zones.

    H1/AS1 5th edition amendment 1 applies to all housing (including medium-density housing and apartments) and buildings up to 300m2.

    For housing only, the construction R-values of the 4th edition H1/AS1 can still be used for roofs, walls and floors in building consent applications until 30 April 2023. (The methodology used to calculate these must be that of the 5th edition, however.)

    For housing, there is now (in building consent applications lodged from 3 November 2022) a minimum construction R-value requirement of R0.37 for all windows, doors and skylights using the schedule method. This is an increase from the minimum requirements in the 4th edition of H1/AS1. This figure will increase again on 1 May 2023 (for climate zones 3–6) and 2 November 2022 (for climate zones 1 and 2).

    You can find the H1 documents on MBIE’s Building Performance website and tools to help comply with H1 on the BRANZ website.




    RMA replacement laws introduced

    Shorter consent times indicated.

    The Government has introduced to Parliament the Natural and Built Environment Bill and the Spatial Planning Bill, two of the laws that will replace the Resource Management Act. Minister for the Environment David Parker says:

    • New standardised conditions will see fewer “bespoke” consents and speed up the process
    • Time to consent will shorten, and the fast track process will be kept
    • Costs will fall 19% a year ($149m) or $10b over 30 years on conservative estimates
    • Environmental protections will increase, based on new targets and limits.

    More than 100 RMA plans will reduce to just 15 regional-level plans across the country.

    The government hopes to pass both these laws through Parliament before the next election.
    The third piece of the reform, the Climate Adaptation Act, is due be introduced later in 2023.

    You can find details on the bills on the Parliament website here and here.




    Cost benefit for all-electric households

    Cheapest option, new report says.

    A new report says that households that go all-electric in the next few years – home appliances and vehicle – stand to save thousands of dollars in the long term compared to households with gas appliances and a petrol/diesel vehicle.

    “From 2026 all electric households can expect the total annual electricity cost, including the capital costs required to switch, to be lower than the combined petrol, gas and electricity bills (including the relevant capital costs) they would pay otherwise,” says the report.

    “The ideal configuration for households is rooftop solar plus batteries. However, while the installed cost of solar has fallen considerably in recent years, the cost of batteries is more stubborn.”

    The report was prepared by economic consultancy Sapere using data from the Climate Change Commission. The report was commissioned by the Electricity Networks Association (which represents the lines companies).

    You can find more details here.




    National Seismic Hazard Model updated

    Likely to impact building regs.

    The revised National Seismic Hazard Model results provide an estimate of the likelihood and strength of an earthquake on any given site in the country.

    GNS Science says that on average, results have increased by 50 percent or more from previous modelling, highlighting the need to boost national resilience strategies and readiness.

    MBIE says the updated results will be used to inform the risk settings in building regulations. The Ministry is planning to consult on an initial set of proposed changes to building standards in mid-2023.

    You can find more details about the release here and here.




    Rivers a bigger flood risk than the coast

    Bank research measures risks.

    Research carried out by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand – Te Pūtea Matua (RBNZ) indicates that river and surface water flooding may pose an even greater risk to houses than coastal flooding.

    In its coastal flooding exercise, the RBNZ asked banks to measure the exposure in their mortgage portfolios to flood zones under varying levels of sea level rise ranging from 20 centimetres to 1 metre — a range consistent with modelling from 2040 to 2100 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. There were significant differences in the share of mortgage lending on properties that lie within a coastal flood zone across different regions.

    In its assessment of banks’ exposure to river and surface water flood risk RBNZ focused on the Auckland region. In a severe scenario, more than a quarter of banks’ current Auckland mortgage lending was on land that could be impacted by flooding.

    The bank says that owners may see a fall in property values in flood zones with improved understanding of the risks.

    The research was carried out as part of RBNZ’s risk assessments of New Zealand’s largest banks in regard to residential mortgages. The findings are part of the RBNZ November 2022 Financial Stability Report.

    You can find more details here.




    Smart home guidelines launched

    Technology reduces energy use.

    Standards New Zealand has published guidelines for a best practice approach to a New Zealand network of smart homes. The document is designed to become a single touch point where all relevant general smart home information is contained.

    Homes that integrate smart technology can help reduce energy use and emissions. The guidelines “…provide guidance for putting together a home energy management system (HEMS) – a combination of interacting electrical appliances and control mechanisms that work together to optimise energy consumption in a home while still meeting the consumer’s needs – and explains how such appliances connect with the electricity grid.”

    “It also acts as a guide for appliance retailers and suppliers of smart home equipment and services. It contains general smart home information and points those interested in the direction for more detailed information.”

    Access to SNZ PAS 6012:2022 Smart home guidelines has been sponsored by EECA. A PDF can be downloaded at no charge




    Big benefits in near-zero emission houses

    Report puts dollars on the gains.

    A new study has assessed the potential economic benefits of moving to construction of low emission and close to zero emission houses sooner rather than later.

    Building low emission houses from 2025 to 2034 and near zero emission houses from 2035 to 2050, compared to just Building Code compliant houses, “would result in an additional $42 billion direct contribution to GDP and an additional 369,000 years of direct full-time equivalent employment (FTE)… When the indirect and induced impacts are included, the total GDP contribution is $141.5 billion, at an average of $5.1 billion per year.”

    A less ambitious scenario, with low emission houses built 2030–2039 and near zero emission houses 2035–2050, still has significant benefits over the construction of houses that just comply with the Building Code.

    Prepared by economic analysts BERL for the NZ Green Building Council, the report is available on the NZGBC website here.




    Push for more wood processing in NZ

    Forest industry plan launched.

    A draft Industry Transformation Plan for Forestry and Wood Processing has been released for consultation by Te Uru Rākau New Zealand Forest Service. The key change being sought is to “process more logs and wood residues onshore to produce more value-added wood products and enable the growing bioeconomy.

    ”The plan points out that wood fibre can play a critical role in reducing emissions across New Zealand, particularly in sectors such as construction. It aims to grow domestic demand for our wood products and to grow investment to increase manufacturing of advanced wood-based products for construction and other sectors.

    The plan points out that, while the number of logs harvested has doubled over the last decade, the capacity for processing wood domestically has basically stayed the same.

    Submissions close 30 September 2022.




    H1 extension only for R-values

    New calculations still required.

    Where building consent applications for housing are submitted before 1 May 2023, roof, wall and floor minimum construction R-values can be equivalent to the H1/AS1 4th edition requirements. There is a 2-step implementation of new R-value requirements for windows and doors in housing.

    However, the 5th edition of H1/AS1 and H1/VM1, which replace the 4th from 3 November 2022, includes new methodologies for establishing the thermal resistance of windows, doors, skylights, curtain walling and slab-on-ground floors.

    With the exception of slab-on-ground floors, from 3 November 2022 only the new methodologies can be used. (Up until 1 May 2023, concrete slab-on-ground floors in housing will still be deemed to achieve a construction R-value of R1.3.)

    You can find more information on the Building Performance website.




    Insulation retrofits boost health

    Less asthma in children.

    People whose homes have thermal insulation retrofitted to make them warmer are 10% less likely to develop chronic respiratory diseases compared to people whose homes are not retrofitted. The benefit is even greater – 15% – for children under 15. Greater gains come from houses that also have heat pumps retrofitted.
    The findings come from a study of the medicines prescribed for residents of more than 200,000 houses that received subsidised insulation through an EECA programme that ran between 2009 and 2014.

    The results support other studies that show children are less likely to develop asthma when their home environment is warmer and less prone to damp and mould.

    The study was carried out by University of Otago researchers from the He Kāinga Oranga – Housing and Health Research Programme at the University’s Wellington campus.

    You can find more details here.




    Advice on dealing with flooded homes

    A free bulletin on the topic.

    Recent floods have caused major damage to houses around the country, and the problem is forecast to become worse in coming years. In many cases, builders will be called on to help make repairs.

    Restoring flood-damaged houses involves more than just opening windows or getting fans or dehumidifiers to work and then repairing or replacing the obviously damaged building elements. There are specific steps that need to be taken to avoid long term problems, and there are important health and safety aspects to consider too.

    BRANZ has produced a free bulletin to help, BU666 Restoring a home after flood damage.

    You can access the bulletin from the BRANZ website.




    Changes to insulation upgrade dates

    MBIE provides breathing space.

    The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has announced changes in the implementation dates for house insulation under the 5th edition of H1/AS1 and H1/VM1. An amendment to the new 5th edition documents will be published in August 2022. Where building consent applications for housing are submitted before 1 May 2023, roof, wall and floor construction R-values can be equivalent to the previous (4th edition) requirements. The date for transition to the 5th edition documents will remain as 3 November 2022. From this date, the previous 4th edition H1 documents can no longer be used for building consent applications.

    All window and door construction in new housing now has a 2-step increase. The first step is a minimum construction R-value of R0.37 for the whole country from 3 November 2022. After that, the date of the second step varies by climate zone:

    • From 1 May 2023, the minimum R-value in climate zones 3 and 4 rises to R0.46
    • From 1 May 2023, the minimum R-value in climate zones 5 and 6 rises to R0.50
    • From 2 November 2023, the minimum R-value for climate zones 1 and 2 rises to R0.46

    Amended 5th Editions of Acceptable Solution H1/AS1 and Verification Method H1/VM1 will be published in August 2022.

    You can download the full details of the decision from the Building Performance website.

    This news item was amended on 21 July to clarify the fact that the date for transition to the 5th edition documents will remain as 3 November 2022.




    Damp, mould in wealthier homes

    Not just a problem for the poor.

    A publication from the consultants BERL, Energy wellbeing indicators in Aotearoa New Zealand, looks at recent research covering the levels of dampness and mould in homes.

    BERL found surprising results – mould and dampness are not just a problem for low-income households.
    “These results challenge the assumption that energy hardship is purely an income issue. While those who earned lower incomes experienced the highest rates of dampness and mould, middle income households came in a tight second. The proportion of high-income households experiencing mould or dampness is also remarkably large. Mould and dampness is a widespread problem in housing in New Zealand.”

    You can find the BERL report here.




    Design aid for 3-storey, 3-unit blocks

    Guide for new standards.

    The Government has published a national design guide to encourage inclusive and integrated housing under the new Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS).

    The focus of the non-statutory guide is on three-unit developments up to three storeys in height that are permitted under the MDRS.

    You can download the guide from the Ministry for the Environment website.




    Free BRANZ carbon tool webinars

    Practical demonstrations online.

    BRANZ has available online a series of free webinars that give an introduction into carbon tools, with practical demonstrations. The webinars cover:

    • LCAQuick – carry out a life cycle assessment of a planned building and understand potential environmental impacts including greenhouse gas emissions across its life cycle
    • HECC – Homestar Embodied Carbon Calculator
    • CO2RE – compares the impact and construction R-values of a range of common residential roof, wall and floor constructions
    • LCA Play – quickly provide comparative environmental impacts for different commercial building concept options
    • LCA Overview – a basic introduction to life cycle assessment. Recommended viewing before viewing the other carbon tools webinars.

    Access to each webstream expires after 1 month.

    You can find the webinars here.




    National Adaptation Plan launched

    Building Code changes flagged.

    Aotearoa New Zealand’s First National Adaptation Plan, launched by the Ministry for the Environment, sets out actions for dealing with climate change. Actions involving the building industry and the built environment include:

    • Updating Building Code requirements to ensure buildings are designed and constructed to withstand more extreme climate hazards.
    • Identifying and adding climate hazards not currently in the Building Code.
    • Making it a legal requirement that Land Information Memoranda contain information on the natural hazard risks facing a property.

    “How and where we build needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis. We can be proactive and choose to direct development away from areas that are susceptible to extreme hazards such as sea-level rise, flooding, coastal inundation and wildfire. However, avoidance is not always possible and the benefits of development now may outweigh the benefits of avoiding future climate risk.”

    The Plan, the first in a series that will be prepared every 6 years, can be found on the Ministry for the Environment’s website here.




    Health costs of solid fuel heating

    Numbers put on air pollution.

    An updated study of air pollution in New Zealand has put numbers to the costs, including health costs, of different sources of air pollution.

    The two pollutants that together contribute to most air pollution in New Zealand are very small particulate matter (referred to as PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

    The costs of PM2.5 pollution from human activities in New Zealand (over $6 billion) were associated with:

    • domestic fires (74%)
    • motor vehicles (17%)
    • windblown dust (8%)
    • industry (0.1%)

    Domestic fires burn wood and coal for home heating. The report says that, considering the total picture of air pollution in New Zealand, “Domestic fires are estimated to be responsible for 29% of the national air pollution health burden from anthropogenic sources at an estimated social cost of $4.6 billion.”

    The costs of NO2 pollution from human activities (almost entirely from motor vehicles) stand at $9.5 billion.

    Air pollution contributes to premature deaths and hospital admissions for respiratory and cardiac illnesses.

    A PDF of the report can be found here.




    Environmental Choice NZ building updates

    Aluminium, plasterboard, carpets.

    New or updated Environmental Choice product standards are coming for Aluminium Building Products, Plaster and Plasterboard products, and Carpets and Rugs.

    The product standard for Aluminium Building products is due to be released in August.

    Consultations are underway on the other two specifications. Submissions for the Plaster and Plasterboard specifications close on 22 July, and for the Carpets and Rugs specification on 29 July.

    You can find details of the Plaster and Plasterboard Products and Carpets and Rugs specifications here.




    Kāinga Ora testing solar panels

    1,000 home target by 2024.

    The public housing provider Kāinga Ora (KO) is starting a test of solar panels, with 100 public houses in the Wellington region to have PV systems installed this year.

    KO will monitor the effectiveness of the systems for up to two years. One of the main aims of the scheme is to reduce energy costs for its clients. Savings in Wellington could be around $700 to $850 per year.

    More solar systems are likely to be installed across the country, with a figure of 1,000 quoted by 2024. The solar panels will be installed on selected new homes, retrofitted homes and apartments.

    You can read more on the Kāinga Ora website.




    NZ sea rise tool launched

    Local projections available.

    A new online tool allows New Zealanders to see projections for sea level rise in their neighbourhood up to the year 2300. The tool could help local authorities, homeowners and businesses better assess evolving risks from flooding and erosion.

    The tool provides projections using the new IPCC AR6 data and takes account of vertical land movements for the entire coastline at 2 km spacing.

    NZ SeaRise is a five-year research programme funded by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment Endeavour Fund. It brings together 30 local and international experts from Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington, GNS Science, NIWA, University of Otago and the Antarctic Science Platform.

    An update to the Coastal Hazards Guidance for Local Government on how to use the new projections for planning has been co-produced with the Ministry for the Environment.

    You can find the tool here and read more about the NZ SeaRise programme here.




    Reducing emissions in construction

    Government plan released.

    The Government’s first Emissions Reduction Plan has a whole section on the building and construction sector and will potentially have a major impact over the long term on construction materials and techniques used in New Zealand.

    Proposed actions in the Plan include:

    • Consulting in late 2022 on introducing whole-of-life embodied carbon requirements to the Building Code.
    • Exploring whether to require waste minimisation or recovery plans for building consent.
    • Implementing amendments to Building Code Clause H1 (Energy efficiency) compliance pathways.
    • Consulting in late 2022 on proposed Building Code changes to introduce new requirements for operational efficiency
    • Introducing mandatory energy performance certificates for buildings. Initially, they could apply to government, commercial and large residential buildings and potentially expand to other residential buildings in future.
    • Exploring how incentives, support or regulatory requirements could reduce existing buildings’ emissions, while making buildings warmer and drier. 

    The plan says that the building and construction sector is responsible for 9.4% of domestic greenhouse gas emissions, or over 15% if biogenic methane (e.g. from farm animals) is excluded. This is a significant underestimate of the total impact because, as the plan points out, it doesn’t include the emissions produced from the manufacture of building materials that have been imported.

    You can find the plan on the Ministry for the Environment’s website.




    Smart home guidelines coming

    Energy efficiency a big driver.

    Standards New Zealand and EECA have developed some draft guidelines around energy efficiency and smart homes, SNZ PAS 6012:2022 Smart home guidelines.

    A smart home is a system that links residential appliances together into a network. The network ensures the appliances are operating as efficiently as possible and also connects to the grid to help shift household demand to periods of least-cost electricity. This combination of appliance efficiency and demand shifting can significantly lower electricity bills.  

    The closing date for comments is 21 June 2022.

    You can find more information here.




    Government proposes delay on new H1

    Submissions being accepted.

    The Government is proposing a 6-month delay of the date when the new 5th edition Acceptable Solution H1/AS1 and Verification Method H1/VM1 take over from the 4th edition. The change would allow continued use of lower levels of thermal insulation in housing until 1 May 2023.

    The delay only applies to houses. It does not extend the transition period for the insulation settings for windows in new zones 1 and 2, previously published with a 2-year transition period.

    The delay comes after some industry groups told the Government that more time was required to prepare for the change.

    Submissions are being accepted until 13 June 2022.

    You can find the details on the MBIE website.




    High performance details published

    PHINZ construction details.

    WBRANZ has published, as External Research Report ER70, a large body of high-performance construction details from residential projects successfully built in New Zealand.

    The details are taken from certified Passive Houses in New Zealand, so they have been consented and constructed. They have been analysed thermally in detail to ISO standards. CAD data for these generic details is provided, along with R-value calculations.

    Making these high-performance details freely available will assist the building industry to design and build more energy-efficient and thermally-comfortable homes for New Zealanders.

    ER70 PHINZ High-performance construction details handbook (2022) is available for free download.




    Appliance efficiency plan released

    5-year government programme. 

    The Equipment Energy Efficiency (E3) Program is a joint New Zealand/Australia programme around energy efficiency standards and energy labelling. The aim is to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in new appliances and equipment.

    The E3 Prioritisation Plan 2021–22 has been released and will influence the E3 program of work over the next five years. The Plan shortlists 34 products/projects and identifies 26 of these as top priority. 

    One of the top priority areas where New Zealand will take the lead is a project on residential water heating, focusing on information and tools for consumers.

    New Zealand is also focusing on a medium term (1–3 years) programme around electric vehicle charging smartness and efficiency. New Zealand is currently leading a project to identify electric vehicle charging smartness, which will have the potential for significant energy savings.

    You can find information about the E3 plan here.




    Draft adaptation plan out

    Coping with climate change.

    The Government has released as a consultation document a draft of New Zealand’s first National Adaptation Plan. “Homes, buildings and places” is one of the sections in the plan.

    The plan outlines the potential scale of impact – about 675,000 (one in seven) New Zealanders live in areas prone to flooding (nearly $100 billion worth of residential buildings). A further 72,065 people live in areas that are projected to be subject to extreme sea-level rise. The numbers will increase as the climate changes. 

    Consultation will close on 3 June. The final National Adaptation Plan will be published in August 2022.

    You can find more information here or download a PDF of the full document here.




    BRANZ carbon tools webinars

    Free lunchtime series

    • 27 April – An overview of life cycle assessment
    • 4 May – LCAQuick
    • 11 May – LCA Play
    • 18 May – CO2RE 

    You can find more information and register online here.




    Huge scope for water savings

    Review finds vast wastage

    Water New Zealand’s latest National Performance Review has found that large water savings could be made in both households and supply networks.

    The average New Zealander uses 281.8 litres of water per day but there are huge variations around the country. In Auckland, where water is metered, each person uses an average of 146 litres/day, while in unmetered districts, use goes as high as 800 litres/person/day.

    While there are good reasons for higher use in some areas, overall there is clear room for savings.
    Leaks in network supply pipes are also a massive problem. It is estimated that 20% of water in network pipes leaks out overall, but in some districts, more than half the water going into the network is lost. The loss across the country is estimated at over 100 million cubic metres per year – roughly equivalent to the volume of water supplied to Hamilton, Rotorua, Dunedin and Christchurch combined.

    You can find more details here




    BRANZ carbon videos available

    Useful resource for clients.

    BRANZ has released five short videos around how to remove carbon from construction. Each one is just a few minutes’ long and in plain English. They could easily be shown to informed clients to explain more about the carbon implications in new or renovated home designs.  The five videos cov

    • Where is carbon in a building?
    • House size and form
    • Solar design and the thermal envelope
    • Materials selection
    • Fixtures and appliances

    You can find the videos on the BRANZ YouTube channel.




    Updated NZ emissions data out

    Emissions dip due to COVID.

    Restrictions brought in to prevent the spread of COVID-19 also reduced our greenhouse gas emissions. Between 2019 and 2020, our net emissions fell by 5%, mainly due to reduced fuel use from transport, manufacturing and construction. 

    Over the longer term it is a completely different picture. Between 1990 and 2020, New Zealand’s net emissions increased by 26%. 

    The data comes from the Greenhouse Gas Inventory, the official annual estimate of all human-generated greenhouse gas emissions and removals in New Zealand. The latest Inventory, covering the years up to 2020, has just been released. 

    New Zealand Government forecasts have suggested that even by 2030 our emissions will still be higher than they were in 2018.




    Updated forecasts for climate change

    Latest IPCC report out.
    The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gives forecasts for what climate change will bring to Aotearoa New Zealand and the rest of the world, based on very extensive scientific studies.
    The Working Group II contribution to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report assesses the impacts of climate change, looking at ecosystems, biodiversity, and human communities at global and regional levels. It also reviews vulnerabilities and the capacities and limits of the natural world and human societies to adapt to climate change.
    The report forecasts with “very high confidence”: “The New Zealand trends include further warming and sea-level rise, more hot days and heatwaves, less snow, more rainfall in the south, less rainfall in the north, and more extreme fire weather in the east.”
    The report says that for a sea level rise of 0.5 m, the value of our buildings exposed to 1-in100-year coastal inundation could increase by NZ$12.75 billion.
    The IPCC's Working Group III report, on climate change mitigation, due to be published in early April, will outline how we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as well as remove them from the atmosphere.
    You can find Chapter 11 of the latest report, which covers Aotearoa New Zealand, here.



    Heating and children’s bedrooms

    Otago Uni study looks at costs.

    It would cost parents NZ$58 a month to heat one child’s bedroom based on an electricity price of 32.2 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh), a University of Otago study has found.
    The researchers placed thermostatically-controlled electric heaters in 152 children’s bedrooms over an eight-week period in autumn and winter. The heaters were set to 20°C or 21°C, with timers set to come on 30 minutes before the child’s bedtime and to switch off 30 minutes before their expected waking time.
    Outside of the study period, some families heated a child’s bedroom for half an hour before bed, a third were heating rooms for less than five hours a night, while some heated it for the full 24-hour period.
    More than two-thirds reported their homes were cold in winter and 20% of children’s bedrooms were so cold that parents had shivered while inside them.

    It is believed that energy poverty is a factor in New Zealand’s high rate of excess winter mortality of about 1,600 deaths a year and excess winter hospitalisation rates of about 7,166 patients a year.

    You can find more details on the University of Otago website.




    Assessing embodied carbon

    MBIE releases methodology.

    MBIE has released a proposed methodology for assessing the whole-of-life embodied carbon of a building. This is one more step towards the possible future introduction of mandatory reporting requirements and eventually caps for the whole-of-life embodied carbon and operational carbon of new buildings.  

    The methodology “is intended to support the consistency of embodied carbon assessments of buildings in New Zealand, enabling early adopters to incorporate the methodology in their own processes. It is also intended to introduce embodied carbon assessments to those parts of the sector that may be less familiar with the concepts.”

    “While embodied carbon assessments are currently voluntary, this methodology is intended to be able to be used by anyone involved in the design, construction, operation and management of buildings in New Zealand.” 

    You can find the document here.




    Govt funds electric concrete truck

    Mixer truck based in Penrose.

    The latest round of funding from the Government’s Low Emission Transport Fund (LEFT) includes New Zealand’s first electric battery-swap concrete mixer truck. The truck will be operated by Firth Industries in Penrose.

    “The LETF is all about finding replicable solutions through innovative transport and infrastructure.” says the announcement. In total, 13 vehicle and technology projects in this round will receive $3,452,025. The third and fourth rounds of the LETF will open mid-2022.  

    You can find more details here.




    BRANZ releases new carbon tools

    5 tools now available online.
    The suite of BRANZ carbon tools to help in the design of low-carbon buildings has been significantly expanded. The BRANZ website now hosts three carbon footprinting tools and two life cycle assessment tools:

    • CO2NSTRUCT is a database of embodied carbon and energy figures for building materials and products.
    • CO2RE covers greenhouse gas emissions for residential wall, floor and roof constructions (expressed as per m2 of the building element). It allows evaluation based on construction R-value and whole-of-life embodied carbon.
    • CO2MPARE is a database of calculated greenhouse gas emissions for a set of reference residential and office buildings. It also contains carbon budgets for those buildings. It can be used for benchmarking and target setting.
    • LCAQuick calculates environmental impacts of any building designs, with a focus on residential and office typologies.
    • LCAPlay is a concept-level exploratory LCA tool for commercial buildings.

    You can find the tools here.




    Utility-scale battery coming

    35MW system for Huntly.

    WEL Networks and Infratec have announced that New Zealand’s first utility-scale battery system is due to start construction in July. The battery will store enough energy to meet the daily demands of over 2000 homes and be capable of providing fast reserves support for the North Island grid.

    Large-scale battery systems have grown quickly in Australia. A 30 MW facility in South Australia began commercial operations in December 2018. There are currently around 7GW of battery energy storage projects either proposed or in the planning process in Australia, with the average project sized at around 150MW.

    You can read more details of the Huntly project here




    NZ behind in emissions targets

    OECD says action required.

    The January OECD report on New Zealand says that the country is not on track to meet either its 2030 abatement commitment or its 2050 net zero carbon emissions target.

    “It is unlikely that New Zealand will be able to respect future international commitments without substantially reducing gross emissions.”

    It says the country “has a solid institutional framework but needs to implement abatement measures.”

    New Zealand has recorded the second largest increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions amongst OECD countries since 1990 and emissions per capita are high.

    You can access the report here




    PV installations up, up and away

    Almost 200 MW installed.

    While building material supply problems are slowing down many construction projects, installation of PV systems is booming.

    By the end of January 2022 there were 34,646 residential PV systems installed in New Zealand, an increase of 5,800 over a year earlier.

    The rate of installation has sped up markedly, from 3,519 in 2019 to 3,611 in 2020 and then 5,600 in 2021.

    The total capacity of all solar installations now in place, including around 2,500 systems on non-residential buildings, was 190 MW at the end of January – up from 147 MW a year earlier and just 8 MW in late 2013.

    To put this number in perspective, it is still a small proportion of total electricity generation – the total installed hydro capacity is over 5,000 MW.

    You can find data for installed distribution generation trends on the Electricity Authority's Electricity Market Information (EMI) website here.





    Gas supply changes planned

    Comments open until 10 March.

    With the likely future decline in the use of natural gas in New Zealand, the Commerce Commission has proposed making changes to the gas networks.

    The Commission says that the likely fall in demand for natural gas may create challenges for pipeline businesses to recover the costs of their investments. 

    One of the proposals will see gas users paying more for their gas in the next few years rather than facing an enormous price spikes at a later point. There are around 300,000 connections to the gas networks, all in the North Island. Most are residential consumers. 

    For a typical annual household gas bill of about $1,275, this would be an increase of around $55 per year for four years. This does not include the impact of changes in other components of consumer bills, such as the wholesale price of gas. 

    You can find the Commission’s draft decision here. Submissions are due by 10 March 2022.




    New homes getting smaller

    Likely savings in carbon, energy.

    The average floor area of all new homes consented in 2021 was 154 m2, a small step down from 156 m2 in 2020 and a much larger step down from 200 m2 in 2010, when home size hit a peak.

    Research by BRANZ and other bodies indicates that smaller homes are likely to have lower carbon footprints and use less energy.

    Multi-unit homes made up 48% of all homes consented in 2021 and had an average floor area of 109 m2. Stand-alone houses consented averaged 195 m2.

    Multi-unit homes today are close to the average floor area of all new homes in the mid 1970s, which stood at 107 m2.

    You can find the details on the Stats NZ website.




    Acceptable Solutions for roof/spring/bore water

    Documents open for comments.

    The national water services regulator Taumata Arowai is consulting on a series of documents around safe drinking water. As well as the Drinking Water Standards, they include an Acceptable Solution for Roof Water Supplies and an Acceptable Solution for Spring and Bore Water Supplies. Each of these Acceptable Solutions applies where a small number of households are supplied.

    The proposed Drinking Water Acceptable Solution for Roof Water Supplies details the technical requirements for the treatment of drinking water from a roof. It can be used to demonstrate compliance with the requirements of the Water Services Act 2021. It is estimated there are 10,000–30,000 roof water supplies in Aotearoa New Zealand, including an estimated 900 marae.

    A number of marae, papakāinga, small communities and camping grounds use springs and bores and distribute the drinking water to multiple properties. It is uncertain how many of these supplies currently exist in New Zealand.

    The Water Service Act 2021 does not cover situations where a roof, spring or bore only provides water for one household.

    Submissions are open until 28 March 2022. You can find more details here. 




    Benefits in heat pump subsidies

    Power bills unchanged, says study.

    A study of the government’s Warmer Kiwi Homes programme suggests that households receiving grants for heat pumps gain significant benefits without added power costs.

    The study by Motu Economic & Public Policy Research began in 2021 and involves around 160 homeowners. Final results will be published in December 2022, but interim findings (involving 127 homes) were recently released. The households who had installed the subsidised heat pumps found that:

    • Their homes were warmer.
    • Far fewer saw condensation on bedroom or living room windows.
    • Far fewer found dampness in bedrooms or living rooms.
    • Far fewer had to restrict home heating due to cost.
    • Electricity bills were either unchanged or lower than before.

    Under the Warmer Kiwi Homes scheme, the Government pays up to 80% of the cost of heat pumps for lower-income private homeowners.

    You can find details of the Warmer Kiwi Homes programme here.




    Wood burners and air pollution

    New report gives update.

    A new government report confirms that wood burning for home heating is a major source of air pollution in New Zealand. Most particulate matter from wood smoke is PM2.5, which is more harmful to human health than larger particles. 

    “The residential sector (primarily burning wood for home heating) contributed 30 percent of PM2.5 emissions and 41 percent of carbon monoxide emissions. Almost all particulate matter emissions generated by the residential sector were PM2.5.” 

    “One New Zealand-based study found that living in a neighbourhood with a higher density of wood burners was associated with an increased risk (28 percent) of nonaccidental emergency department visits in children younger than three years old.” 

    The data in the report contains both good and bad news: 

    “PM2.5 concentrations at 50 percent of locations have improved since 2011. However, 95 percent of sites were higher than the 24-hour and annual 2021 WHO air quality guidelines at least once between 2017 and 2020. The sites with the highest PM2.5 concentrations were above the guideline for around a quarter of the year. These high concentrations generally occurred during the colder months.”  

    The information comes from the report Our Air 2021: Final release, published in late December by the Ministry for the Environment and Stats NZ. It is the third report in a series, following reports in 2014 and 2018. 

    The report compares concentrations of pollutants against New Zealand’s National Environmental Standard for Air Quality (NESAQ), the 2005 WHO air quality guidelines, and the 2021 WHO air quality guidelines (the latter being the most stringent).  

    You can find the report here.




    CLT shines in seismic testing

    Engineered timber resilient.

    Research funded by the Earthquake Commission has found that multi-storey walls constructed from cross-laminated timber (CLT) can be strong and resilient in earthquakes. 

    The work involved testing large CLT shear walls in the University of Canterbury Structural Engineering Laboratory. Researchers loaded the walls horizontally to simulate big earthquakes like the ones experienced in Christchurch.  

    The research team designed high capacity connections for the walls. They found that steel dowels in the connections bent to absorb energy and prevent the walls from being significantly damaged or collapsing. After an earthquake the dowels could just be replaced and building occupants could quickly return. 

    The weight of timber is only one-fifth that of concrete, but engineered timber has similar strength as concrete. Timber also has a key role to play in New Zealand achieving a net-zero carbon economy. 

    The Earthquake Commission says that the research shows that “cross-laminated timber (CLT) walls are feasible and cost-competitive with steel or concrete systems in low-rise buildings and offer significant environmental benefits.” 

    You can find more details and watch a video clip here.




    Major upgrade to H1 announced

    Changes mandatory Nov 2022.
    The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment says the new updates to minimum insulation requirements aim to reduce energy needed to heat new homes by up to 40%. “The changes go as far and as fast as is achievable using current insulation products and construction design and practices.”
    There are now six climate zones.
    Minimum construction R-values are significantly increased in some instances. Under the Schedule Method, the minimums are now R6.6 for the roof in all climate zones, with windows and door minimums R0.46 in the four warmest climate zones and R0.50 in the two coldest climate zones. (Skylight requirements are higher in the four colder zones.)
    There is a 1-year transition period ending 3 November 2022, although the new window insulation requirements in the warmest climate zones have a 2-step increase. Between 3 November 2022 and 2 November 2023, the minimum construction R-value for windows and doors in climate zones 1 and 2 is R0.37. After 2 November 2023, it rises to R0.46.
    The Schedule, Calculation and Modelling methods of demonstrating compliance still remain, but are now included In H1/AS1 (Schedule and Calculation) and H1/VM1 (Modelling) rather than in a separate standard.
    The scope of H1/AS1 covers housing, and buildings other than housing less than 300 m2.
    You can find the details here.




    BRANZ releases new carbon tools

    5 tools now available online. Read more.
    The suite of BRANZ carbon tools to help in the design of low-carbon buildings has been significantly expanded. The BRANZ website now hosts three carbon footprinting tools and two life cycle assessment tools:

    • CO2NSTRUCT is a database of embodied carbon and energy figures for building materials and products.
    • CO2RE covers greenhouse gas emissions for residential wall, floor and roof constructions (expressed as per m2 of the building element). It allows evaluation based on construction R-value and whole-of-life embodied carbon.
    • CO2MPARE is a database of calculated greenhouse gas emissions for a set of reference residential and office buildings. It also contains carbon budgets for those buildings. It can be used for benchmarking and target setting.
    • LCAQuick calculates environmental impacts of any building designs, with a focus on residential and office typologies.
    • LCAPlay is a concept-level exploratory LCA tool for commercial buildings.

    You can find the tools here.



    Carbon footprint timetable out

    Mandatory limits for new houses.

    The Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) made it clear some time ago that a requirement for lower-carbon construction will at some point become a mandatory part of building law. We now have a timetable for that.

    On 29 November 2021, MBIE published Outcome of consultation: Building Code update 2021. In this document, the Ministry set out some key timeframes as part of its Building for Climate Change programme:

    • 2021–2023: MBIE will finalise methodologies for carbon mitigation.
    • 2024–2029: MBIE will introduce mandatory disclosure of embodied carbon for new buildings and bring in a phased introduction of embodied carbon caps for new buildings.
    • From 2030 onwards: Progress towards final emissions-reduction caps. Carbon calculation tools, resources and other technical infrastructure will be fully in place.

    You can download a PDF of the document from the Building Performance website.




    CLT shines in seismic testing

    Engineered timber resilient.

    Research funded by the Earthquake Commission has found that multi-storey walls constructed from cross-laminated timber (CLT) can be strong and resilient in earthquakes. 

    The work involved testing large CLT shear walls in the University of Canterbury Structural Engineering Laboratory. Researchers loaded the walls horizontally to simulate big earthquakes like the ones experienced in Christchurch.  

    The research team designed high capacity connections for the walls. They found that steel dowels in the connections bent to absorb energy and prevent the walls from being significantly damaged or collapsing. After an earthquake the dowels could just be replaced and building occupants could quickly return. 

    The weight of timber is only one-fifth that of concrete, but engineered timber has similar strength as concrete. Timber also has a key role to play in New Zealand achieving a net-zero carbon economy. 

    The Earthquake Commission says that the research shows that “cross-laminated timber (CLT) walls are feasible and cost-competitive with steel or concrete systems in low-rise buildings and offer significant environmental benefits.” 

    You can find more details and watch a video clip here.



    Carbon tools, seminar coming soon

    BRANZ has a suite of new carbon tools that it will release to the industry shortly.

    BRANZ is also running a seminar “The Carbon Challenge: Science and solutions” around the country, from Whangarei to Invercargill, between 1 November and 2 December. You can find more information about the seminar here and register and pay here.




    Turning waste into wallboards

    New technology arrives in NZ.
    Industrial packaging waste will be turned into construction boards at a Te Rapa factory from November this year. The technology has been used in the United States for over a decade.
    The plant will be recycling waste, including post-production industrial packaging waste from Fonterra and Frucor, into low carbon construction boards. The range of boards can be used in place of plywood, particleboard and plasterboard. P21 bracing tests for most of the products have been completed and released.
    The boards are heated up to 300 °C during the manufacturing process. There are no VOC emissions or formaldehydes and all recovered offcuts and end of life products can be remanufactured into new boards.
    The New Zealand company behind the initiative, saveBOARD, has received a A$1.74 million grant from the Australian and New South Wales Governments towards setting up a A$5 million facility in Australia.




    Help for businesses to go circular

    Cutting waste, pollution and emissions.

    Many businesses operate on a linear “take-make-waste” model, but there is growing support for businesses – including construction businesses – to move to a low carbon circular economy.

    The Go Circular 2025 programme was recently launched to provide practical tools and resources.

    One of the project partners is Āmiomio Aotearoa, an initiative that includes universities, SCION, Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research, BRANZ and several international partner organisations.

    You can read more about Go Circular 2025 here and about Āmiomio Aotearoa here.




    Construction in Sustainability Awards

    Finalists from across the sector.

    The Sustainable Business Awards have been running for 19 years. This year’s finalists include a strong showing from the construction sector. Among the finalists are:

    Change Maker Award

    Felila Neama Taufa, Social Engagement Lead/Junior Engineer, TROW. Felila set up a template to salvage as much construction material as possible from every project. She is the driving force behind TROW’s most successful deconstruction projects.

    Climate Action Innovator Award

    Golden Bay Cement has used waste wood for more than 17 years to help reduce its coal use and emissions. In March 2021 it opened its upgraded cement plant in Whangārei which burns waste tyres. Recycling the steel from waste tyres also prevents the mining of 5,000 tonnes of iron sand for use in cement. Golden Bay Cement plans to use up to 3.1 million waste tyres per year – half of the nation’s output.

    Climate Action Leader

    Fletcher Building has a goal is to reduce its emissions by 30% by 2030. Overall emissions in the 2020 financial year were 8% lower compared to 2018. It has set a target to gain Environmental Product Declarations to verify the embodied carbon for all its major products.

    Communicating for Impact

    NZ Panels Group launched Track My Tree to provide a fully documented chain of custody for every logged tree made into veneer panels. Track My Tree assigns each logged tree with a unique code. Customers can enter this into a database to view the product’s verified origin. Track My Tree promotes veneer panels as a more sustainable option than solid timber – one cubic metre of solid timber yields 900 square metres of veneer.

    Social Impactor

    Isthmus Group is an integrated design studio. Engaging with and fully embracing mātauranga Māori is a core part of its current strategy and it is  gradually weaving kaupapa Māori into its design philosophy and practice. Earlier this year Isthmus Group launched Te Kāpehu, a navigational design tool for making conscious choices about how its projects can uplift the mauri of people and the environment.

    TROW Group is one of the largest commercial deconstruction companies in Aotearoa New Zealand. It donates quality construction materials and office furniture from deconstruction projects to iwi/hapu, schools, church groups, and smaller businesses. Remaining materials are shipped to the Pacific to help rebuild and furnish cyclone-prone nations. Currently the business is focused on Auckland but plans to extend its service across Aotearoa New Zealand and throughout the Pacific.

    The 2021 winners will be announced at an online Awards ceremony on 25 November 2021. You can find more details here.




    H1 changes due 29 November

    Wide expectations of major upgrade.

    The 2021 Building Code changes are due to be announced on 29 November. The options for change discussed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) earlier in the year included significant upgrades of the minimal thermal performance required of new buildings. MBIE also flagged the possibility of changes around climate zones.

    The pattern is that when Building Code changes are announced, there is also a transition period where the old rules can still be used while industry comes up to speed with the new requirements.

    Whatever changes to H1 are unveiled, BRANZ will provide supporting material for industry around how to achieve compliance. Part of this will be a new edition of the BRANZ House Insulation Guide, due for release in the first half of 2022.



    Carbon tools, seminar coming soon

    BRANZ has a suite of new carbon tools that it will release to the industry shortly.

    BRANZ is also running a seminar “The Carbon Challenge: Science and solutions” around the country, from Whangarei to Invercargill, between 1 November and 2 December. You can find more information about the seminar here and register and pay here.




    Govt seeks input on emissions reduction

    Big changes for construction proposed.

    The Government has released a consultation paper on its plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is asking for feedback on the plan, which makes a number of suggestions that will have big impacts on construction.

    The paper says: “Our vision is to significantly reduce all building-related emissions as soon as possible.”

    Proposals being considered include:

    • Greenhouse gas emissions caps for buildings. New builds are the first priority because lowering emissions in existing buildings is more complex.
    • Reducing fossil gas use in buildings. MBIE is investigating the phase out of fossil gas from the energy system.
    • Reducing construction and demolition waste. (Kāinga Ora’s procurement processes for construction and demolition already require that 80–85% of materials must be recycled or diverted from landfill.)
    • For reducing waste of treated timber, moving from demolition as the default to a deconstruction model, in which buildings are removed in a way that separates and conserves materials, maintains their value, and better allows for recovery and reuse.
    • Encouraging greater use of diversified high-value wood products in construction.

    Consultation on the paper, Te hau mārohi ki anamata Transitioning to a low-emissions and climate-resilient future, is open now and will close on 24 November.

    You can find more details here.




    Higher performing flats and apartments

    Gains in medium density housing.

    More and more medium-density housing developments are being designed to achieve high thermal performance.

    Earlier this year, occupants moved into a 21-unit co-housing project in Dunedin that was the first certified multi-unit Passive House dwelling in New Zealand.

    In Māngere, Auckland, Kāinga Ora has begun a pilot project with a 3-storey, 18-home block that is on track to achieve Passive House certification. The block is planned for completion in 2023. Kāinga Ora has a further seven Passive House projects (all 3-storey) in the design phase.

    The Passive House standard has tight requirements around things like annual heating/cooling demand and airtightness. This gives very low operating costs and a low operational carbon footprint.

    The very rapid growth of medium-density housing in New Zealand means the thermal performance of this type of housing is of growing importance. Of the 45,119 new home consents issued in the year ending July 2021, over 30% were for townhouses, flats and units. This compares with 26% in 2020 and 20% in 2019.

    You can read more about the Dunedin housing project here.




    Emissions reduction plan delayed

    December deadline pushed to May.

    The Government’s deadline of 31 December 2021 to set emissions budgets and release the country’s first emissions reduction plan has been delayed for five months.

    The plan is likely to significantly affect the construction industry. In its advice to Government earlier this year, the Climate Change Commission recommend

    • Extending MBIE’s Building for Climate Change programme for new buildings to also cover existing buildings.
    • Making continuous improvements to minimum Building Code requirements such as energy efficiency standards.
    • Making it compulsory for existing commercial and public buildings to take part in energy performance programmes.

    The Commission said at the time: “Achieving the emissions reductions needed to get to 2050 will require our elected officials to move fast to implement a comprehensive plan.”

    However, Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced on 15 September that instead of the expected December 2021 release, the plan would not be released until the end of May 2022.

    You can find more information here.




    Updated Homestar tool launched

    Carbon plays a bigger role.

    An updated version of Homestar, the green home certification scheme, was relaunched in early August by the New Zealand Green Building Council.

    “Under the new version of Homestar, all homes aiming for a green home rating will now have to prove they have lower carbon pollution compared to an average new home.”

    The updated tool covers both the embodied carbon in the materials used to construct the building and the operational carbon from building use, for example in heating, hot water and lighting systems.

    Almost 5,000 new homes were registered and certified under Homestar in the last year.

    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.




    New forecasts for rising sea levels

    Big implications for coastal homes.

    A major assessment of climate changes currently underway and projected for the future has just been released. It is the first part of the Sixth Assessment Report published by the IPCC (the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

    Heatwaves have become more frequent and more intense. The speed of global sea level rise is increasing, and these sea level changes are irreversible for “centuries to millennia”.

    Under the best possible scenario (where governments around the world agree to make substantial reductions in emissions relatively quickly) the global mean sea level is forecast to rise by around a third to a half a metre over the next 90 years. Under the worst scenario, where there are few reductions made in greenhouse gas emissions, a sea level rise of up to around one metre in the next 90 years is forecast. “Global mean sea level rise above the likely range – approaching 2 m by 2100 under a very high GHG emissions scenario – cannot be ruled out due to deep uncertainty in ice sheet processes.”

    The data in the IPCC report is drawn from 14,000 scientific papers. The report was approved by representatives of 195 national governments and is regarded as conservative.

    You can find more information 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.




    Climate submissions published

    Building industry speaks up.

    Over 15,000 submissions were made to the Climate Change Commission during its consultation earlier this year, and a large number have now been published on the Commission’s website. They include comments from many involved with the construction industry, from Architectural Designers New Zealand Inc to Wood Processors and Manufacturers Association New Zealand.

    Together the submissions make up by far the largest picture available to date of how the industry believes the threat of climate change should be tackled.

    There is some very interesting information here and some very odd comments. One industry body seems to suggest there is negligible benefit in retrofitting thermal insulation into old houses, for example. Its only supporting reference to this is a very old document from another country.

    Submissions that the submitters did not consent to publishing have been excluded. Other submissions have information redacted, for example personal or commercially sensitive information.

    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.

    You can find the published submissions 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.




    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.




    NZ study confirms rising sea levels

    Findings support forecasts.

    Research commissioned by Christchurch City Council shows a higher water level for most high tides than earlier calculations done in 2018.

    Analysis of data collected between 2005–2020 indicates a sea-level rise in Lyttelton Harbour averaging 7 mm per year. This is substantially higher than earlier government data, which found a rise there of 1.3 mm/year from 1901–1960 and 2.7 mm/year from 1961–2017.

    Forecasters have said that climate change could lift sea levels by an average 300 mm in the next 30–40 years and over 1 m in the next century if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced. These forecasts are often based on modelling. The Lyttelton data are some of the first real-life New Zealand figures, and they support the long-term forecasts.
    One of the results of the study is that the LIM reports for more houses are now likely to say that they are considered at risk of flooding.

    The work was carried out by the engineering consultancy GHD Christchurch and Netherlands-based flood risk experts HKV.

    You can find more details here.




    Energy performance/labelling regs

    Submissions open on updates.

    Changes are being planned for the way energy efficiency and labelling of energy-using systems is governed. MBIE has released a discussion document and submissions are open until 21 July 2021.

    The changes reflect government commitments towards reducing carbon emissions and will bring greater flexibility to the system. The changes affect a wide range of energy-using systems, including some not currently covered by regulations. They include proposals from introducing  labelling requirements around greenhouse gas emissions, to enhancing EECA’s monitoring, inspection and investigation powers and increasing maximum penalties.

    You can find the discussion document here.




    High-performance details available

    Handbook downloadable at no cost.

    The High-Performance Construction Details Handbook has been released by Passive House Institute NZ (PHINZ) Te Tōpūtanga o te Whare Korou ki Aotearoa.

    The publication features selected construction details from homes completed in recent years. The details of elements and junctions include calculations of their thermal performance, which is generally vastly higher than Building Code minimums. Some commonly-built details (designed to comply with Building Code minimums) are also included to allow comparison.

    The Handbook was prepared for PHINZ by Jason Quinn, funded from the Building Research Levy with in-kind support from Sustainable Engineering, PHINZ and Resilienz.

    The Handbook can be freely downloaded from the PHINZ website here.




    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.




    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.




    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.




    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.




    Building Code changes proposed

    Big moves for clause H1.

    On 6 April, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) began its annual consultation on Building Code changes. As it indicated many months ago, MBIE is proposing significant changes to clause H1 Energy efficiency as part of its Building for Climate Change programme. The deadline for comments is Friday, 28 May 2021.

    This year’s proposals include:

    • Developing new climate zones
    • Higher minimum insulation requirements. Should we increase our minimum insulation to a level that is approximately half of that in other parts of the world with similar climates, equal to other parts of the world with similar climates, or above them?
    • A new verification method for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in commercial buildings
    • Changes to ensure apartment and other high rise buildings have enough natural light.  
    • MBIE is also consulting on its role as the regulator in the upkeep and referencing of building and construction standards.

    You can find more details here and see a YouTube video here.




    Research identifies warmest curtains

    Little booklet gives results.

    BRANZ, Beacon Pathway and the Home Performance Advisor Training Programme partnered with Sustainability Trust to find the warmest type of curtains.

    Using a test house on the BRANZ site, the research compared what was assumed to be the best choice against a range of other curtain styles. The assumed best style was a full length, tightly-closing curtain with thick lining and a tight track with minimal gap to the wall. BRANZ used its thermal imaging cameras to find differences in performance.

    The research confirmed that long curtains are better than short curtains, tight tracks are better than gappy tracks and thick linings stop heat loss better than thinner or no linings.

    A downloadable booklet has details, including options that households can use if this type of curtain cannot be immediately installed.

    You can download the booklet here.




    NZ emissions increasing

    Construction work a contributor.

    Newly-released figures from the Ministry for the Environment show that New Zealand’s CO2 emissions grew by 2% between 2018 and 2019 (the most recent figures available). The construction and electricity sectors are among those responsible for the increase.

    New Zealand’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory 1990–2019 is New Zealand’s official record of greenhouse gas emissions. It shows that that New Zealand’s gross emissions have increased by 26% since 1990.

    Both construction and the built environment are contributing to this growth.

    The contribution to CO2 emissions from commercial buildings grew by 14% between 2016 and 2019, while the contribution from residential buildings grew by 8%. The contribution from electricity grew by 38% over these 3 years.

    You can find the Ministry for the Environment document here and a comment from Robert McLachlan at Massey University here.




    Green Property Summit 2021

    Thursday 6 May, Aotea Centre, Auckland.

    Local and international presenters will cover a wide range of green building topics at this one-day event.

    “The Green Property Summit will present and discuss the latest initiatives in delivering green buildings and precincts, retrofitting existing buildings, and the policies and opportunities for building green.”

    The day before the conference, Wednesday 5 May, site tours will visit some significant green buildings in Auckland.

    You can find more details here.




    Building Out Waste 2021

    Thursday 29 April in Auckland.

    This afternoon event (3–5.30pm) is a chance to find out about practical innovations, industry updates and what various practitioners are doing to tackle waste in the construction and demolition sector.

    The location is Unitec Institute of Technology on Carrington Road in Mount Albert.

    You can find more details here.




    Climate change impacts on Otago

    Built environment risks assessed.

    The first Otago Climate Change Risk Assessment, prepared by Tonkin & Taylor for the Otago Regional Council, has identified a number of risks for the built environment.

    Six risks were identified as being ‘extreme’ by 2040:

    • To buildings and open spaces, from inland and coastal flooding, coastal erosion, sea level rise and salinity stress (coastal inundation of groundwater)
    • To flood management schemes from inland and coastal flooding and sea level rise and salinity stress
    • To water supply infrastructure and irrigation systems from drought, fire weather, flooding, sea level rise and salinity stress
    • To road and rail transport from flooding, coastal erosion, extreme weather events and landslides
    • To airports and ports from flooding and extreme weather events
    • To landfills and contaminated sites from flooding and sea level rise and salinity stress.

    The areas at highest risk are buildings, open spaces and water supplies.

    The report goes into a considerable amount of detail about specific locations and risks, in some cases putting numbers on the properties or assets likely to be affected.

    You can find more details here.




    RMA replacement scheduled for 2022

    Three new laws replace the old Act.

    The Government has announced details of the coming repeal of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) and its replacement with three new laws.

    The first of these, the Natural and Built Environments Act, will provide for land use and environmental regulation. This is the primary replacement for the RMA and will be the priority for Government attention. The bill will be introduced into parliament before the end of this year and is due to pass into law by the end of 2022.

    Under this new law there will be a mandatory set of national policies and standards to support the natural environmental limits, outcomes and targets specified in the new law. These will be incorporated into combined regional plans prepared by local and central government and mana whenua.

    The government says that the current 100-plus RMA council planning documents will be reduced to about 14.

    The two other laws that will be introduced are the Strategic Planning Act, which will address long-term regional spatial strategies, and the Climate Change Adaptation Act, which will address issues around managed retreat and funding and financing adaptation.

    You can find more details here.




    NZ carbon budgets released

    Big implications for construction.

    On 31 January the Climate Change Commission released three draft greenhouse gas emissions budgets covering the period up to 2035. For house building and retrofitting, the Commission suggests:

    • Much better energy efficiency. The Commission says that newly-built homes should be 35% more energy efficient compared to those built today. It suggests this can be achieved by upgrades to the Building Code and standards, pointing specifically to insulation requirements. It also says that existing houses should be upgraded to be more energy efficient.
    • Phasing out fossil-fuel appliances in new houses. It suggests that after 2025, all new space heating or hot water systems installed after 2025 should be either electric or biomass. There should be no new natural gas grid connections or bottled LPG connections after 2025.
    • City and town planning should change immediately to make it faster and easier for people to get around.

    Public consultation runs until Sunday 28 March. You can find the report here.




    Homestar v5 open for comment

    Responses required by 19 March.

    New Zealand Green Building Council has opened a consulation on the next version of the rating tool Homestar. The draft Homestar v5 technical manual was made available in late February.

    A discussion document on the manual has also been made available, and a modelling report.

    Feedback provided at an earlier consultation can also be read.

    You can find more information here.




    EECA reviews hot water systems

    Deadline for submissions is 1 March.

    Water heating accounts for around 28% of energy use in New Zealand houses, but it is not always easy for industry or consumers to compare the options:

    • Minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) for electric and gas storage water heaters are over 20 years old and overdue for review. Other water heaters are not covered by MEPS.
    • There is no agreed or consistent way of comparing products across technologies or incorporating new developments in water heating.

    EECA is looking to review its hot water policy so that:

    • regulations cover all hot water systems regardless of technology type
    • energy labelling gives consumers and installers better information
    • there is better alignment of standards and regulations across Australia and New Zealand with potential to use international standards and test methods
    • consumer purchasing behaviour will favour more energy efficient hot water products, reducing household energy bills and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

    Stakeholders can give feedback on a discussion paper outlining the proposed method for evaluating the performance of hot water systems. The deadline is Monday 1 March 2021.

    You can find more information here.




    Window closing on weathertight claims

    Less than 12 months to go.

    Under the current rules, 2021 is the last year that claims can be accepted by the Weathertight Homes Tribunal.

    A house that is the subject of a claim must have been built (or the leaky alterations completed) before 1 January 2012 and within 10 years of when the claim is brought. If a code compliance certificate was issued, this may be taken as the date the house was built.

    You can find more information on the government’s Weathertight Services website here.




    Building ratings coming into force

    The first mandatory system is here.

    In December 2020 the Government announced the Carbon Neutral Government Programme, requiring the public sector to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025.

    In its briefing to the Incoming Minister of Energy and Resources, EECA said that the National Australian Built Environment Rating System New Zealand (NABERSNZ), which it administers, will be mandated for public sector organisations from January 2021 for new and renewed leases.

    NABERSNZ “is a system for rating the energy efficiency of office buildings. It is an independent tool, backed by the New Zealand government.”

    You can find more information about NABERSNZ here.

    The Government has also signalled its intention to introduce Energy Performance Certificate ratings for residential buildings.

    In the European Union, EPCs are mandatory. They must be available when a residential property is built, sold or rented. An EPC gives a property an energy efficiency rating from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient) and is valid for 10 years. It contains information about a property’s energy use and typical energy costs and recommendations about how to reduce energy use and save money.

    You can read EECA’s briefing to the Incoming Minister of Energy and Resources here.




    NZ failing in Paris Agreement

    MBIE details our emissions.

    MBIE’s briefing document for the incoming Minister of Economic Development says New Zealand is performing poorly at tackling greenhouse gas emissions.

    Specifically, New Zealand is not currently on track to meet our Paris Agreement obligations through domestic emissions reduction.

    “New Zealand has one of the highest emissions per capita in the OECD, and gross emissions have increased 24% since 1990...By contrast, in some other countries (e.g. the UK and Germany) emissions are now below 1990 levels.”

    “Under the Paris Agreement (an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), New Zealand committed to reduce emissions to 30% below 2005 levels across the period 2021–2030. In contrast, New Zealand’s gross emissions have remained stubbornly flat over the last decade or more.”

    “Meeting our domestic and international emissions reduction obligations and adapting to the physical impacts of climate change will require significant structural and investment decisions to be made over the course of the next three years. Delayed action will likely require more abrupt and costly adjustments in the future.”

    You can find a PDF of the briefing document here.




    NZS 3604 upgrade underway

    The revision lifts building efficiency.

    A key focus of the revision of NZS 3604:2011 Timber-framed buildings is supporting better thermal performance as part of New Zealand’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

    Other elements in the review include expanding the scope of the standard to three full storeys to support medium-density housing, bracing, and building on expansive or liquefaction-prone soils. Publication of the updated standard is planned for 2023.

    You can read more on the Standards NZ website here.




    Government agencies to be carbon neutral

    Buildings will play a key role.

    In early December 2020 the Government announced the Carbon Neutral Government Programme, requiring the public sector to achieve carbon neutrality by 2025.

    The immediate focus will be on phasing out the largest and most active coal boilers. There are more than 200 coal-fired boilers currently heating water and buildings in the state sector.

    Government agencies will be required to implement an energy efficiency building rating standard over 5 years. There will be a requirement to achieve a minimum of 4 stars when establishing new leases and a minimum of 5 starts for new builds.

    Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash says government agencies are able to exert strong influence through their spending on accommodation and supply contracts such as heating and lighting.

    He says that greater use of lower emissions building materials in new buildings can also be incentivised through the public service showing leadership.

    “One of New Zealand’s greatest natural resources is our renewable forest plantations and use of timber can help achieve higher energy efficiency ratings for new builds.”

    Public sector agencies must measure and publicly report on their emissions and offset any they can’t cut by 2025.

    You can find more information here.




    November Building Code updates

    Changes include two new Acceptable Solutions.

    On 5 November the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) implemented a number of changes to the Building Code, including two new Acceptable Solutions and amendments to twelve existing Acceptable Solutions and Verification Methods.

    The two new Acceptable Solutions are E1/AS2 for stormwater drainage and E3/AS2 for internal wet area membranes.

    Changes to existing documents apply to Building Code clauses:

    • C Protection from fire
    • E1 Surface water
    • E2 External moisture
    • E3 Internal moisture
    • G9 Electricity
    • G13 Foul water. 

    Existing Acceptable Solutions and Verification Methods will remain in force until 4 November 2021.

    You can find more information about the changes here and an infographic about the changes to the Protection from fire section here.




    $1.45b energy efficiency benefit

    Big savings from efficient appliances.

    EECA says the 86 million products sold under its energy efficiency programme since 2002 have resulted in $1.45 billion of national benefit.

    Energy-efficient appliances provide significant savings over their whole lifetime compared to poorer-performing appliances. EECA calculates that the 5.4 million efficient products sold in the year to March 2020 will eventually result in $384 million of national benefit.

    EECA works with the Australian Government to develop minimum energy performance standards (MEPS) which remove the worst performing appliances from the market.

    You can find more information here.




    Homestar v5 in development

    Rating tool being upgraded.

    Work is progressing on an upgrade of the New Zealand Green Building Council rating tool Homestar. The current version, Homestar v4, was released in 2017.

    Earlier this year over 100 people provided feedback on the current version. The upgrade is being carried out with support from a working group of technical experts and Homestar professionals. A Homestar Advisory Committee representing a cross section of stakeholders has also been set up to provide strategic direction.

    A draft v5 is expected to be ready for review in December, with testing planned for early in the new year.

    The full Homestar v5 tool is expected to be launched in April 2021.




    EQC simplifies natural disaster claims

    Disaster damage will require just one claim.

    In the past, claims for damage after natural disasters such as earthquakes have required homeowners to make two claims – one to EQC for damage up to a certain level, then to their private insurance company for losses above that level.

    Under a new arrangement, private insurers will manage the full claim. The new model is expected to be in place from the second quarter of 2021.

    Eight private insurance companies - AA Insurance, Chubb, FMG, Ando (Hollard), IAG, MAS, Vero and Tower - have worked with EQC on the partnership model.

    You can find more details here.




    Water metering uncovers massive leaks

    One Marlborough house loses 67,200 litres per day.

    A major problem with water leaks has been found following the installation of water meters by the Marlborough District Council.

    That house in Renwick losing 67,200 litres isn’t the only one with a major problem – one property in Havelock lost 33,000 litres per day and another, 28,000 litres. A separate property again was found to be leaking 30,000 litres per day in early metering tests.

    Several hundred properties were leaking smaller amounts.

    The problem has been clear for a while. The Marlborough District Council noted that: “Residents in Renwick and Havelock have historically used a daily average of 869 litres and 909 litres per person, respectively. This is a relatively large amount compared to the consumption for Nelson City residents, who on average use 250 litres per person daily.”

    Property owners have the opportunity to repair leaks before charges are introduced in July 2021.




    BRANZ: mechanically ventilate all new homes

    BRANZ proposes new homes be built to an airtightness target and mechanically ventilated.

    Recent BRANZ research has prompted a shift in thinking around airtightness and ventilation.

    Unlike some other countries where airtightness in new houses is carefully measured and must hit certain targets as part of the building controls process, airtightness is often not a key issue when houses are designed and built in New Zealand.

    While new homes have become more airtight over recent decades, there is still a wide variation among individual buildings. Recent testing of apartments found the most airtight measured 1.9 air changes per hour (ach) @ 50 Pascals pressure, and the least airtight unit measured 12.6 ach @ 50 Pa. That is a huge range.

    Other research data at BRANZ suggests that a significant proportion of our housing stock is underventilated.

    BRANZ recommends a target of 3 ach @ 50 Pa across all types of residential building, an achievable target requiring minimal additional cost.

    With regards ventilation, BRANZ is proposing that mechanical ventilation becomes the default option.

    You can find out more in the October 2020 issue of Build magazine.




    Hot water cylinders fail tests

    Six out of 12 electric hot water cylinders failed energy efficiency testing.

    EECA commissioned tests of 12 electric hot water cylinders to see how they complied with energy efficiency requirements. Six cylinders failed the test.

    Two suppliers have withdrawn four models from sale. One manufacturer is being prosecuted while one investigation has not yet been completed.

    You can read more details here.




    Research points way to warmer walls

    Two newly published research papers look at thermal performance in house walls.

    The BRANZ External Research Report ER53 reports the findings of an investigation into the extent of thermal bridging in external timber-framed walls of 47 new build houses.

    The average percentage of timber framing compared to total wall area (excluding windows and doors) is above 34%. This is much higher than the 14–18% framing content generally assumed by both regulators and the industry. The results strongly indicate that the content of timber framing in external walls in residential new builds is at such high levels that the increased thermal bridging compromises the performance of walls and may mean that designed R-values are not being achieved.

    More research is being carried out into what might be contributing to this. A separate research project is looking at potential solutions.

    In the second piece of work, BRANZ Study Report SR436 looks at retrofitting loose-fill insulation into walls with the linings on. Of primary concern was that any solutions do not cause damage by insulation carrying water from the back of the cladding to the framing where no underlay is present.

    The research found that, without an underlay present, water transfer can occur, irrespective of whether the insulation material itself is hydrophobically treated. It does appear possible, however, to create installed insulation that resists moisture transfer to the inside of the wall.

    You can find more information about thermal bridging in timber-framed walls here.

    You can find more information about the linings-on retrofit report here.




    BRANZ: mechanically ventilate all new homes

    BRANZ proposes new homes be built to an airtightness target and mechanically ventilated.

    Recent BRANZ research has prompted a shift in thinking around airtightness and ventilation.

    Unlike some other countries where airtightness in new houses is carefully measured and must hit certain targets as part of the building controls process, airtightness is often not a key issue when houses are designed and built in New Zealand.

    While new homes have become more airtight over recent decades, there is still a wide variation among individual buildings. Recent testing of apartments found the most airtight measured 1.9 air changes per hour (ach) @ 50 Pascals pressure, and the least airtight unit measured 12.6 ach @ 50 Pa. That is a huge range.

    Other research data at BRANZ suggests that a significant proportion of our housing stock is underventilated.

    BRANZ recommends a target of 3 ach @ 50 Pa across all types of residential building, an achievable target requiring minimal additional cost.

    With regards ventilation, BRANZ is proposing that mechanical ventilation becomes the default option.You can find out more in the October 2020 issue of Build magazine.



    Government details steps to cut new build emissions

    Two new documents set out proposals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions in construction.

    The documents Transforming Operational Efficiency and Whole-of-Life Embodied Carbon Emissions Reduction were published by the Ministry of Business, innovation and Employment (MBIE) as part of its Building for Climate Change programme.

    In the operational efficiency area, proposals for new buildings include:

    • Defined indoor environmental quality parameters that all new buildings must comply with (temperature, humidity etc.).
    • A mandatory Operational Emissions Cap setting out the total allowable annual emissions per square metre per annum for all new buildings.
    • A mandatory Water Use Cap setting out the total allowable potable water use per square metre per annum for all new buildings.
    • These two caps will tighten in a series of steps, reaching a final cap by 2035. The Cap for fossil fuel combustion emissions will be reduced to 0 by 2035.

    MBIE plans to provide an online modelling tool for small buildings (up to 3-storey, 300m2 floor area) that will generate the reports required for compliance at building consent application and code of compliance stages.

    With regards to embodied carbon in building materials:

    • Initially, whole-of-life embodied carbon of buildings will be required to be reported as part of the building consent process.
    • At a later stage buildings will also be required to meet a mandatory cap on their whole-of-life embodied carbon in order to obtain a building consent.
    • The cap will be tightened in a series of steps.

    It is proposed that on-site renewable energy generation and storage is outside the scope of the framework.

    Submissions on the documents close 11 October.

    You can find the document Transforming Operational Efficiency here.

    You can find the document Whole-of-Life Embodied Carbon Emissions Reduction here.




    Solar generation growing but below global levels

    Residential connections are growing but are still a tiny proportion of electricity generation.

    The figures come from the recently released Energy in New Zealand 2020, produced by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment and providing details about the 2019 calendar year.

    Solar generation increased by 27%, from 99 GWh in 2018 to 126 GWh in 2019. Solar PV accounted for just over 0.3% of total electricity generation in 2019. The growth in solar photovoltaic (PV) uptake for electricity generation in New Zealand is lower than it is globally. Residential connections account for 80% of existing solar PV capacity.

    Among other findings in the report:

    • Residential electricity use remained stable in 2019.
    • Average electricity costs faced by the residential sector did not change significantly over 2019. The nominal residential cost in the December quarter of 2019 was 0.6% higher compared to the 2018 December quarter.
    • Wind provided 2,232 GWh of electricity, or 5.1%, of total electricity supply in 2019. This was up 9.1% on the 2018 level.

    You can download the report from here.




    World Green Building Week

    World Green Building Week is 21–25 September.

    A number of online and in-person events are planned around the country. They include webinars, panel discussions and Green Campus Days on universities.

    Topics will include:

    • Social procurement: a massive untapped green game changer?
    • Are we on the cusp of a healthy buildings revolution? Wellbeing, workplaces and the new normal
    • MBIE: Building for Climate Change
    • Is the financial services industry doing enough for a healthy, green Aotearoa?
    • Shovel ready. Can it ever work?

    You can find more information here.




    Hutt adds building performance data to LIMs

    Hutt City Council is adding building performance information to Land Information Memoranda.

    The system is voluntary. Homeowners can have their house assessed on issues such as warmth and energy efficiency, with tools such as the NZ Green Building Council’s HomeFit or Homestar, and the performance given on the LIM for the property.

    Council’s Director Environmental and Sustainability, Helen Oram, says this can give potential buyers or tenants of a property a more accurate picture of it. The main aim of the initiative, however, is to improve the health of residents and the energy performance of the city’s housing.

    You can find more details here.





    Govt sees climate risks to buildings

    The Government’s first climate change risk assessment puts building risks near the top.

    The government has just released the First national climate change risk assessment for New Zealand. The biggest issues facing the built environment are around risk to potable water supplies and risks from extreme weather events and sea-level rise.

    The assessment identifies the 10 most significant risks that require urgent action in the next six years to reduce their impacts.

    The risk to potable water supplies (availability and quality) due to changes in rainfall, temperature, drought, extreme weather events and ongoing sea-level rise was rated highest in terms of urgency of the ten most significant risks.

    The study’s lead work around the built environment was carried out by Tonkin & Taylor.

    You can find more information here.



    Government plan to measure and cap embodied carbon in construction

    Reducing carbon emissions from building is a key target of a new programme.

    The Building for Climate Change programme aims to help New Zealand meets its climate change goals, including net zero carbon by 2050.

    “At the start, we should be able to reach the goals through good current practice, but over time, the goals will be increased to make greater carbon savings and emissions reductions. To meet the goals, we’ll need to make some changes to current building laws – both the Building Act and the Building Code,” says the MBIE website.

    You can find more information from MBIE here and more information about a carbon budget for New Zealand houses here.




    New insulation and glazing requirements on the horizon

    The Government has announced a Building for Climate Change programme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the construction and operation of buildings.

    The first Building for Climate Change initiatives, to extend insulation and glazing requirements in new homes, are expected to be consulted on in early 2021. In the future, it is likely that changes will also need to be made to existing buildings.

    Changes will be made to current building laws, targets will be set for energy use and carbon emissions, and incentives will be introduced for energy-efficient, low-carbon buildings.

    “Energy efficiency and carbon emissions will become core considerations when building – just as important as cost and aesthetics.” said Minister for Building and Construction Jenny Salesa.

    The Government has recently signed up to a joint statement with Australia, Canada and the United States to work together to develop building code responses to the changing climate. The Government will gather information and insights from other countries to help develop responses to climate change in New Zealand.

    You can find more information here.




    Stats show more household greenhouse gas emissions

    Household greenhouse gas emissions have increased over a decade.

    The figures released by Stats NZ show that while industry emissions fell 2% over the period 2007 to 2018, total household emissions rose by almost 12%.

    The biggest growth in regional household emissions were:

    • Waikato, up 24%
    • Bay of Plenty, up 22%
    • Auckland, up 18%.

    Stats NZ says that the increases were largely driven by transport emissions associated with a growing population, increased car emissions, and increased fuel use.

    You can find the data here.

    The number of households increased by 17.5% over the period 2006–2018.




    COVID-19 advice for the building sector

    MBIE is providing guidance for construction on its Building Performance website.

    The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is updating its website with COVID-19 information here.

    WorkSafe has useful information, including around notifications required, here.

    The main government website with COVID-19 advice is here.




    Photovoltaic calculator back online

    EECA’s solar calculator is back up on the Energywise website.

    The solar tool assesses the estimated financial return of a PV system for a house. It shows the payback time (the number of years before the savings from the system outweigh the purchase and installation cost) and also estimated earnings over 25 years. This is the financial loss/gain from installing and running a PV system in your home, over a 25-year period.

    The tool doesn’t factor in non-financial reasons for using PV, such as a desire for energy resilience or independence.

    The tool makes it clear that the payback period (when savings from the system outweigh the purchase and installation costs) depends on the up-front costs, the price you pay for electricity, and how much electricity you can use during the day when the electricity is being generated. The tool doesn’t take account of batteries.

    The calculator was developed by EPECentre/University of Canterbury and incorporates solar data from the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA).

    You can find the solar tool here.

    Other PV calculators can be found on the BRANZ website and the SEANZ website.




    New building consent exemptions

    An expanded list of consent exemptions will be added to the Building Act.

    Once the Act is updated, expected to be later this year, building consents will no longer be needed for new or expanded types of low-risk work such as sleep-outs, sheds, carports and outdoor fireplaces.

    In all cases the work must still comply with the New Zealand Building Code. There are many instances where conditions apply, such as work having to involve a licensed building practitioner or chartered professional engineer.

    The exemptions include:

    • Single-storey detached buildings up to 30 m2
    • Carports up to 40 m2
    • Ground floor awnings up to 30 m2
    • Ground floor verandahs and porches up to 30 m2
    • Ground-mounted solar array panels
    • Outdoor fireplaces or ovens
    • Flexible water storage bladders
    • Small short-span bridges
    • Single-storey pole sheds and hay barns in rural zones.

    The new exemptions are in addition to work that can already be done without a building consent. This is set out in Schedule 1 of the Building Act.

    You can find more information on the MBIE Building performance website here.





    Budget funds insulation, energy-efficient heating

    The 2020 budget included $56 million for heating and insulation in low-income households.

    The additional $56 million for the Warmer Kiwi Homes programme is expected to cover around 9000 houses. The scheme has also been expanded to cover 90% of the costs of insulation and energy-efficient heating for low-income households. This expands the number of households who can benefit from the scheme.

    Also in the budget was news that construction training courses for all ages will be free over the next 2 years to help retrain people who have lost their jobs. Around $1.6bn has been allocated to the whole Trades and Apprenticeships Training Package, which includes the building and construction areas.

    The budget also included a proposal to build 8000 new state houses over the next four to five years.




    Law being changed for better product information, easier prefab consents

    A Building Act update will bring more information for designers, less red tape around prefabs and tougher penalties for shoddy work.

    The bill now in Parliament will bring in minimum information requirements about building products. This will help designers make better decisions around materials choices.

    The bill also brings in a voluntary framework that companies working on prefabrication and offsite manufacturing can use to speed up the consenting process. The idea is to cut out duplication and reduce the number of inspections needed.

    The update will also bring higher penalties for existing offences against the Building Act, set higher penalties for companies than individuals, and allow a longer period for charges to be filed. The aim is to get higher quality builds by deterring sub-standard work.

    The Minister for Building and Construction introduced the Building (Building Products and Methods, Modular Components, and Other Matters) Amendment bill into Parliament on 8 May.

    You can read more on the MBIE Building Performance website here.




    BRANZ online education now free

    E-learning modules and past seminars now accessible at no cost.

    BRANZ e-learning modules and seminars build important knowledge and skills. Even if you and your teams can’t get on site, BRANZ e-learning resources can help your people to keep training and growing professionally.

    We’re providing free access to our eLearning modules or previous seminars during the lockdown. Access these by using the promo code BRANZ.




    Photovoltaics hit milestone; new standards and specs

    Over 25,000 households have now installed a PV system.

    By the end of February 2020, 25,140 residential photovoltaic (PV) systems had been installed in New Zealand. The figure a year earlier was 21,749.

    Standards New Zealand has also released a suite of technical specifications and standards relating to PV. They include:

    • AS/NZS IEC 62509:2020 – Battery charge controllers for photovoltaic systems – Performance and functioning
    • SA/SNZ TS 61724.2:2020 – Photovoltaic system performance - Part 2: Capacity evaluation method
    • SA/SNZ TS 62446.3:2020 – Photovoltaic (PV) systems – Requirements for testing, documentation and maintenance – Part 3: Photovoltaic modules and plants – Outdoor infrared thermography
    • SA/SNZ TS 61724.3:2020 – Photovoltaic system performancePart 3: Energy evaluation method
    • AS/NZS IEC 62894:2020 – Photovoltaic inverters – Data sheet and name plate
    • AS/NZS IEC 62116:2020 – Utility-interconnected photovoltaic inverters – Test procedure of islanding prevention measures
    • AS/NZS 62852:2020 – Connectors for DC-application in photovoltaic systems – Safety requirements and tests
    • AS/NZS 61724.1:2020 – Photovoltaic system performance – Part 1: Monitoring
    • AS/NZS IEC 61829:2020 – Photovoltaic (PV) array – On-site measurement of current-voltage characteristics

    The new technical specifications and standards are adoptions of documents from the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission), in some cases with modifications.You can find out more from Standards New Zealand.




    New report faults EQC, Government 

    A new report says EQC was unprepared for what it had to do after the Canterbury earthquakes.

    The report found that many EQC staff were doing their best in extraordinary circumstances. Up until the Canterbury earthquakes, typical larger quakes only resulted in 5–6,000 claims to EQC. After the Canterbury earthquakes, EQC received 460,000 claims.

    The report finds EQC suffered serious damage to its reputation, “some deserved but much because it was simply unprepared for the role assigned to it.”

    “There was little or no thinking about how to manage land damage and the repair of a vast swathe of urban housing.”

    “The EQC board had earlier decided that it could not take responsibility for a managed repair programme and…had informed the Government of this. Consequently, no identifiable forward planning had been done for a managed repair programme.”

    “EQC was not equipped to take on the full responsibility for managed repair: its functions were narrow and its board and management had not been planning for such a role and had actively rejected it for good reason.”

    Before 2010, the report says that EQC was “left to its own devices by the Government and not given much support for its attempts to secure and build its funds or to plan for the future.”

    Poor communication between EQC and Government before the Canterbury earthquakes “…resulted in critical decisions with far-reaching consequences being made under crisis circumstances.”

    The Government-commissioned Public Inquiry into the Earthquake Commission began at the end of  2018, eight years after the first big Canterbury quake. The aim was to report on the lessons that can be learned from how EQC carried out its work then. It was also asked to make recommendations to improve the Commission’s readiness to respond to future events. The Inquiry’s report was tabled in parliament in early April.

    You can download a PDF of the report here.



    New data on houses with mould

    Heating type, region and tenancy all have an impact on the numbers of houses with mould.

    Late last year we published some findings of Census 2018 into damp and mouldy houses. The figures showed that visible mould larger than an A4 sheet of paper was always present in 4.3% of homes (64,536) and sometimes present in 12.6% (188,319).

    The research firm BERL (Business and Economic Research Ltd) has now dug deeper into the data and come up with some very interesting findings:

    • For New Zealand overall, 11% of owner-occupied houses had mould, while 23% of rented houses had mould.
    • Regionally, Northland had the largest proportion of houses with mould (16% owner-occupied, 28% rented.)  Marlborough had the lowest proportion (7% owner-occupied, 14% rented).  
    • Households with only portable gas heaters have the highest proportion of households with mould issues at 29%, followed by households with no heating (25% have mould), then households with only electric heating (24% have mould).
    • Of the houses with heat pumps or fixed gas heater only, heat pump and electric heater, or heat pump and wood burner, less than 15% had mould issues.

    You can find more details here.




    Building Code comment deadline extended

    MBIE has extended the deadline for the consultation on the Building Code updates to 17 April.

    The 3-week time extension is recognition of the pressures from dealing with COVID-19 risks. The new closing date is 4pm Friday 17 April 2020.

    Among the changes related to sustainability are:

    • Providing more options to comply with the Building Code for surface water drainage. This involves a new Acceptable Solution for the design and installation of stormwater drainage systems and making it easier to determine rainfall intensities for specific locations.
    • Providing a new Acceptable Solution for waterproofing in bathrooms, kitchens and laundries by referencing the Waterproofing Membrane Association Code of Practice for Internal Wet-area Membrane Systems.
    • Providing additional options to manage overflow risks in kitchens and laundries in adjoined household units.

    Other changes involve the clauses C Protection from fire, G9 Electricity and G13 Foul water.

    You can find more information here.




    COVID-19 advice all in one place

    You can find everything you need to know about COVID-19 in one place.

    There is information for sole traders and for people running small and medium businesses, as well as their employees.

    There are actions you can take right now to help keep you and your employees and clients safe.

    You can find the website here.




    Tighter standards for solid fuel burners proposed

    Proposed amendments to some parts of the National Environmental Standards on Air Quality are open for comment.
    The Ministry for the Environment is planning to:

    • Reduce the emission standard for new solid fuel burners to no more than 1.0g/kg. The figures is currently 1.5g/kg.
    • Include all types of new, domestic solid-fuel burners under the wood-burner regulations for emissions limits and thermal efficiency. This would include coal burners, multi-fuel burners, pellet burners, open fires, cookers, and water boilers.

    Part of the changes are to put greater focus in very fine particles in the air – PM2.5 – which can cause a number of serious illnesses when they are breathed in. These particles come very largely from human sources, and in particular burning solid fuel for home heating in winter.
    The National Environmental Standards for Air Quality (NESAQ) currently focus on PM10. This includes PM2.5 particles, but a lot of coarse material as well which comes from natural sources.
    Monitoring of pollution will be required and breaches must be publicly notified.

    Submissions close on 24 April 2020.

    Find more information here.




    Earth building standards updated

    Updated versions of the three New Zealand standards for earth building have just been published.

    Published in February 2020 were:

    The standards provide a key resource for designers, builders and building consent authorities around the compliance of earth buildings with the New Zealand Building Code.

    In publishing the updated versions, Standards New Zealand said that there has been no failure reported to date of any earth building built in accordance with this suite of standards.

    “Earth walled construction continues to be relevant at a time when the sustainability and decarbonising of the built environment is under scrutiny. Earthen materials are minimally processed, have low toxicity, and are available locally.  This will encourage and enable the uptake of local earthen materials with very low embodied energy within a decarbonising building industry.”




    Building Code changes open for comment

    Public consultation on a number of updates for the Building Code is now underway.

    Among the changes related to sustainability are:

    • Providing more options to comply with the Building Code for surface water drainage. This involves a new Acceptable Solution for the design and installation of stormwater drainage systems and making it easier to determine rainfall intensities for specific locations.
    • Providing a new Acceptable Solution for waterproofing in bathrooms, kitchens and laundries by referencing the Waterproofing Membrane Association Code of Practice for Internal Wet-area Membrane Systems.
    • Providing additional options to manage overflow risks in kitchens and laundries in adjoined household units.

    Other changes involve the clauses C Protection from fire, G9 Electricity and G13 Foul water.

    You can find the full details of the changes and guidance on how to comment on them on the Minister of Business, Innovation and Employment website here.




    New houses emit too much carbon

    A study looks at how NZ houses contribute to greenhouse gas targets.

    A research team that included BRANZ scientists David Dowdell and Roman Jaques has calculated how much carbon dioxide new three-bedroom homes can emit in their lifetimes to help meet climate targets (where the world warms no more than 2°C). New Zealand houses currently produce five times too much carbon dioxide.

    The study set climate targets for individual buildings with a whole-of-life cycle approach. It assigned a share of the 2°C global carbon budget out to 2050 to a country, its construction sector, and to each life cycle stage of a building.

    The study considered detached houses of 198 m2 gross floor area, a representative residential type. The average climate impact of three new-built houses was compared with the target. The climate impact of the new-built houses exceeded the target by a factor of five.

    The study's lead author was Chanjief Chandrakumar of the New Zealand Life Cycle Management Centre at Massey University. Professor Sarah McLaren, also of Massey University, helped lead the study.

    You can find more information here.




    Subcontractors to get more protection

    The government has flagged announcements around subcontractor protection.

    An independent review conducted last year by accountancy firm KPMG found that most of the construction industry was complying with the retention money provisions in the Construction Contracts Act 2002.

    However, the Ministry of Business, Employment and Innovation noted in December that “…the report findings raise some concerns around enforceable penalties, co-mingling retention monies, and a lack of guidance for construction firms.”

    “The Minister of Building and Construction expects to make further announcements [in 2020] about work that will be undertaken to ensure subcontractors are protected.”

    KPMG identified some gaps in the law that need to be addressed so that retention money can be properly administered when firms go bankrupt.

    Where construction firms were not complying with the law, this was often due to a lack of available capital or complying financial instruments or inadequate accounting and financial processes within firms.

    The review found that some companies mix retention money with other funds. “While this is allowed under the legislation, this creates a greater risk that funds will not be identifiable and clearly on trust in the event of insolvency.”

    Subcontractors already have the legal right to inspect accounting records of firms to check that retention money is being handled properly, but they very rarely exercise this right.




    Scoping changes to NZS 3604:2011

    Standards NZ is scoping possible changes to NZS 3604:2011 Timber-framed buildings.

    Standards NZ is seeking feedback on the level of demand for seven proposed new features:

    1. Solutions for improved thermal performance
    2. Foundation solutions for expansive soils
    3. Foundation solutions for liquefaction-prone soils
    4. Steel bracing elements for wide openings
    5. Support systems for long-span beams, lintels, and trusses
    6. Framing around internal stairwells
    7. Isolated internal masonry walls

    The work has been commissioned by the Building Performance branch of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

    The draft can be downloaded from here. The closing date for comments is 3 February 2020.




    Changes to landfill levy proposed

    Options to significantly increase the levy and expand its collection are open for submission.

    In November 2019 the government produced a consultation document Reducing waste: a more effective landfill levy. The document points out that while in other countries there is growing recovery and recycling of materials, in New Zealand, waste sent to landfills has been steadily increasing.

    The current landfill levy is $10 per tonne (excluding GST) and only applies to municipal landfills (which take around 45 per cent of the waste disposed of in New Zealand, excluding waste disposed of into cleanfills).

    Significant quantities of waste from construction and demolition are not subject to a levy at the moment.

    The proposal is for a levy of $20 per tonne for construction and demolition fills (and for an increase at municipal landfills to $50 or $60 per tonne.)

    The Ministry for the Environment estimates current levy-related waste disposal charges for construction and demolition waste of around $6.6 million each year. The levy-related cost of disposal under the proposed new levy could be between $68.9 and $75.55 million.

    Submissions to government can be made until 3 February 2020.

    You can find more information here.




    Building Code updates announced

    Changes to the Building Code affect ground prone to liquefaction and steel framing.

    At the end of November 2019 the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) published updates to the New Zealand Building Code.

    Regulations around liquefaction-prone ground, already in place in Canterbury, now apply to all New Zealand. Acceptable Solution B1/AS1 cannot be used on ground prone to liquefaction or lateral spreading.

    B1/AS1 is also amended to include the information on the design of foundations in expansive soils previously in the Simple House Acceptable Solution SH/AS1. SH/AS1 will be revoked.

    Current Building Code solutions to ‘good ground’ in B1/AS1 will continue to comply until 28 November 2021. Councils and territorial authorities must complete liquefaction mapping within the two years.

    The National Association of Steel Framed Housing (NASH) standard is now an Acceptable Solution. Current Building Code solutions continue to comply for building consent applications lodged until 28 February 2020. Existing methods used after this must be considered as an Alternative Solution proposal.You can find more information about the updates here.




    Deconstruction partnership a winner in Sustainable Awards.

    Building deconstruction proved a winner in the 2019 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards.

    TROW Group and Green Way have developed building deconstruction techniques that reduce landfill waste and deliver salvaged building materials to new destinations. To date, 310 tonnes of waste has been diverted from landfill with around 30 tonnes, mainly timber and building materials, made available to community organisations such as churches, maraes and schools.Auckland Council has contributed by creating contract specifications that enable the process.As part of the same awards, the Communicating for Change award was won by the Tauranga City Council for its ‘Save Our Pipes from Wipes’ campaign.After a sewage overflow caused by wet wipes, Tauranga City Council launched a campaign to raise awareness around sustainability and significantly reduce the amount of wet wipes flushed down the toilet. (Around two tonnes of wipes were being removed from Tauranga’s wastewater system each week.)

    The campaign included digital marketing, radio, bus backs, billboards, media coverage, posters, brochures and badges. Social media marketing reached more than 113,000 people and generated over 143,000 video views.

    As a result of the campaign, the number of sewerage overflows caused by wet wipes reduced by 40%.




    Census 2018 records 318,891 damp homes

    Census data for damp and mouldy homes has been released.

    Statistics New Zealand has released 2018 Census results showing that 318,891 homes were damp. Of the total number, 44,520 were damp all the time (3% percent of all homes) and 274,371 were sometimes damp (18.5% of all homes).

    Rental homes were much more likely to be damp than homes that were owned or held in a family trust by the household. Of households that rented their home, 7.5% reported that it was always damp and 30.6% said it was sometimes damp. For households that owned their home or held it in a family trust, 1.1% said it was always damp and 13.7% percent said it was sometimes damp.

    Visible mould larger than an A4 sheet of paper was always present in 4.3% of homes (64,536) and sometimes present in 12.6% (188,319). Mould was again more common in the homes of those who were renting. For renters, almost 1 in 10 (9.6%) were living in a home where visible mould over A4 size was always present, and 1 in 5 (20.2 percent) had this amount of mould sometimes present. For households who owned their home or held it in a family trust, 2.1% reported visible mould over A4 size always present, and 9.5% sometimes present.Dampness and mould were most common in Northland, Gisborne and Auckland.




    Potential changes to the Resource Management Act

    A new paper reviews New Zealand’s resource management laws.

    The issues and options paper Transforming the resource management system: OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHANGE was released 12 November by the Resource Management Review Panel. This panel was set up to undertake a comprehensive review of the Resource Management Act (RMA) and other significant legislation in this area.

    The options in the document are not comprehensive or fully developed proposals, but are “indicative of the types of reform ideas that are being considered by the review.”

    The review specifically recognises issues facing the building industry: “It is well established that the RMA has not achieved good outcomes for our urban areas or built environment.” It recognises that the positive benefits of housing, infrastructure and other development have not been acknowledged.

    Issues and options raised include:

    • Keeping the RMA as an single law with enhanced principles for land use and environmental management, or splitting it into two separate laws for environmental management and land use planning.
    • Adding a positive obligation to maintain and enhance the environment.
    • More explicitly requiring environmental limits and/or targets to be set.
    • Developing a separate statement of principles for the built environment.

    Comments on the paper are welcomed no later than Monday 3 February 2020.

    The document can be found here.

    After comments are considered, a final report is due with the Minister for the Environment at the end of May 2020.




    New book on multi-storey timber buildings

    BRANZ has released a publication about light timber-framed buildings up to 6 storeys.

    Designers who want to use timber framing for buildings higher than 2.5 storeys and outside the scope of NZS 3604:2011 Timber-framed buildings have new locally-developed guidance. The BRANZ publication, Multi-Storey Light Timber-Framed Buildings in New Zealand – Engineering Design, covers Building Code-compliant design for light timber-framed structures up to 6 storeys within existing standards.

    The guidelines give designers and developers robust options using local resources and techniques that are well understood in the construction sector.

    While the focus is on structural solutions, the publication also covers fire and acoustic performance, floor vibrations and weathertightness.

    There is a growing interest worldwide in larger timber structures. Timber is a renewable resource that is widely available, and the fact that timber stores carbon makes it especially attractive in the move to a low-carbon economy.

    The publication is available in PDF and ePUB formats at no cost. It can be downloaded from the BRANZ website.

    Find more details here.




    Regulator coming for drinking water

    The government will introduce a new regulator to ensure drinking water is safe.

    An independent standalone Crown entity will be created through legislation in 2020.

    Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta says the regulator will:

    • deliver a strengthened approach to drinking water regulation and have a clear focus on drinking water safety
    • have an organisational structure that prioritises drinking water regulation
    • help build and maintain public confidence in drinking water safety
    • build capability among drinking water suppliers by promoting education and training
    • ensure that tikanga Māori, kaitiakitanga and Te Mana o te Wai with regard to drinking water will be enabled and supported
    • contribute to improved environmental outcomes for fresh water by providing central oversight and guidance for the sector’s wastewater and stormwater regulatory functions.

    There have been numerous instances of drinking water contamination in recent years. One of the worst was in Havelock North in August 2016. Around 5,500 of the town’s 14,000 residents were estimated to have become ill, 45 seriously enough to be hospitalised. It is believed that the contamination contributed to three deaths.




    Building law changes coming in 2020

    The government has given details of building law changes it plans to introduce in 2020.

    In April, the Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) published a series of proposals for updates to building law. MBIE received over 470 submissions in response. Many submissions from the building industry were broadly supportive of the changes.

    While there are plans for a wide programme of changes that will extend over several years, the first changes the government intends to make have now been announced. The government plans to introduce a bill into parliament in the first half of next year.

    The changes slated for 2020 include:

    • Building product manufacturers and suppliers will be required to provide plain English descriptions about how their products should be installed and maintained. They must provide evidence for claims they make about product performance. MBIE is currently working with stakeholders on the fine details of what will be required.
    • A new nationwide certification/consenting process will be introduced for prefab houses. For manufacturers who comply, only the location where a prefab home is installed will require a consent, avoiding potential duplication. The number of required inspections is likely to fall.
    • The product certification scheme CodeMark will be strengthened.
    • The building levy will drop from $2.01 to $1.75 (incl. GST) per $1,000 of consented building work above a threshold of $20,444 (incl. GST). It is estimated that this will shave $80 off the cost of an average new house build.
    • The Government is increasing penalties for breaches of the Building Act – in some cases by more than ten times – and will set higher penalties for companies than individuals. (Some of the current fines have not been adjusted in 15 years.) The timeframe for filing charges will be extended from 6 to 12 months. The new penalties will apply as soon as the law is changed, which is planned for mid-2020.
    • Notifications under the Building Act will be made online and no longer be published in newspapers.

    You can find more information here.




    Zero-carbon building road map launched

    A new document tackles the issue of greenhouse gas emissions from construction.

    The new initiative from the New Zealand Green Building Council offers a wide range of solutions. It was launched together with the first zero-carbon building certification, developed with Enviro-Mark Solutions.

    New Zealand’s buildings directly and indirectly account for around 20 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and emissions from the construction sector have grown significantly over the last decade.

    The Green Building Council says that the government’s long-term zero-carbon goal can only be met if the construction industry plays its part in reducing emissions.

    The road map calls for:

    • Building developers to construct their new buildings to zero carbon, and 20% less embodied carbon, by 2025.
    • The government to set a 10-year trajectory to ensure new buildings are zero energy under the Building Code by 2030. To achieve this NZGBC proposes updates to the Building Code in 2022, 2026 and 2030, including restricting fossil fuel combustion in new buildings by 2026 and eliminating their use in new buildings by 2030.
    • The government to require energy-efficiency labelling on existing buildings (residential and non-residential of more than 1,000m2 ) when they are sold or leased by 2024.
    • The government, from January 2021, to require NABERSNZ energy-efficiency ratings on the base buildings in leases of buildings of more than 1,000m2 for government agencies or ministries, rising to require 4 star NABERSNZ from October 2024.

    You can find more information here.




    SEANZ November conference

    The 2019 SEANZ conference is being held on 7–8 November.

    The Sustainable Energy Association of New Zealand (SEANZ) conference will be held at the James Cook Grand Chancellor Hotel, Wellington.

    Thursday 7th is a day for professional development and technical training and is free for industry. There are workshops on solar, battery storage and energy management technologies from suppliers and manufacturers.

    Friday 8th is the main conference day and entry is restricted to ticket holders.

    Speakers include:

    • Hon. Dr Megan Woods – Minister of Energy and Resources
    • Andrew Blaver – General Manager, Consumer Energy, Horizon Power, Western Australia
    • Richard Hobbs – GM Strategy, Transpower
    • Colin Daly – CEO, Vector Powersmart

    You can find more information and programme details here.




    Eco Design October Conference

    The 2019 Eco Design Advisor Conference is being held in Auckland on 24–25 October.

    The theme for 2019 is Housing Fit for our Future: the convergence of housing, climate change and energy.

    Organisers say the conference “will look at both the contribution housing makes to climate change – from the embodied energy in our homes to the energy choices we make – AND how our housing needs to respond to the impact of changing climate. It will consider both mitigation (reducing energy demand through improved thermal envelope/efficient heating, innovative energy solutions etc. as well as smarter use of materials to embody carbon in buildings) and adaptation of housing stock (response to extreme weather events).”

    There is a very strong lineup of speakers. BRANZ is one of the conference sponsors.

    The conference is being held at the Ellen Melville Centre at 2 Freyberg Place, Auckland.

    You can find more information here.




    Survey puts numbers to building site risks

    A survey of construction workers has quantified the risks they face on building sites.

    A study involving 108 construction workers from around New Zealand has identified the health and wellbeing risks they face and the hours they work.

    Among the main findings:

    • Construction workers work more hours per week (47 hours on average) than the general population, with 44% working more than 48 hours.
    • On site, 93% are exposed to dust, 52% to smoke or fumes, 42% to oils and solvents, all higher figures than the general population.
    • Physically difficult tasks are common: repetitive tasks (87% of workers), lifting (83%), working in awkward/tiring positions (84%) and awkward grip/hand movements (69%) for a quarter of the time or more. These were all higher figures than in the general population.
    • At least a quarter of the time, people worked in a cold/damp environment (84% of workers) or a hot/warm environment (83%).
    • Two-thirds use vibrating tools at least a quarter of the time.
    • Three quarters are exposed to loud noise for an average of 5 hours per day. The majority (88%) say their employer provides ear muffs and that they also use them (81%). 72% say that their employer provides ear plugs but only 42% use them.
    • Almost every participant reported that their employer provides personal protective equipment. (This is a legal obligation on employers.)
    • Over 80% are exposed to direct sunlight for an average of 7 hours per day in summer and 5 hours per day in winter. Sun protection was generally provided.
    • A quarter were worried about losing their job.
    • Almost 60% said their job was not at all or mildly stressful.
    • Only around 52% said that they can decide, either often or all the time, when to take a break and 44% have some say in what work they do.
    • One-fifth said that they have experienced bullying at work and 5% say that it sometimes occurs. Violence was experienced by 7% of participants at least sometimes. 47% say their employer has anti-bullying and anti-stress policies.
    • The majority of participants (more than 74%) say they have coworker support and the resources needed to do their job.

    The work was commissioned by WorkSafe New Zealand and carried out by The Centre for Public Health Research at Massey University.

    You can download the report from here.




    2018 Census dwellings data released

    New Zealand had 1,855,962 total private dwellings in the 2018 Census, 108,558 more than in 2013. The figure includes both occupied and unoccupied homes.

    In 2018, 10.3% of private dwellings were unoccupied nationwide. Auckland and the West Coast regions have the fastest-growing number of unoccupied dwellings.

    Occupied private dwellings increased by 26,745 in the Auckland region, from 472,044 in 2013 to 498,789 in 2018 – an annual average growth rate of 1.1 percent.

    Occupied private dwellings in Canterbury, however, grew from 206,916 in 2013 to 226,806 in 2018. This was the largest rate of increase of any region in New Zealand.

    Other data can be found here.




    World Green Building Week 23–29 Sept

    This year’s theme is #BuildingLife, focusing on reducing carbon emissions from all stages of a building’s lifecycle.

    The New Zealand Green Building Council is working with people around the country on a range of events including building tours, film screenings and debates.

    Find more information here.




    MBIE reviews scaffolding, excavation regs

    The government is reviewing regulations around safety in areas such as working at height, scaffolding and excavations.The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is reviewing some of the regulations that sit under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. It has issued a publication Implementing to Health and Safety at Work Act 2015: Better regulation – Plant, Structures and Working at Height.It has also developed a factsheet specifically for the construction industry on what is proposed. It points out that falls from height caused 18% of the cost of construction injuries in one 12-month period, and excavations were involved in 4 deaths and 27 serious injuries in the period 2008–2017.There are also separate factsheets on working at heights and scaffolding, and excavations. Submissions close on 4 October 2019. The government is planning to run a series of workshops on the proposed changes in different areas around the country.You can find more information here.




    Long Auckland building boom forecast

    Auckland’s residential building industry has a 6-year boom ahead according to recent forecasts.

    Auckland’s residential building activity, with a value of $8.8 billion last year, is forecast to grow to $12.2 billion by 31 December 2024. That’s a jump of almost 39%.

    Across the New Zealand as a whole, residential building is expected to level out from 2020 onwards.

    The forecasts are contained in the recently-released National Construction Pipeline Report 2019, produced by BRANZ and Pacifecon and funded by MBIE (and available on the MBIE website).

    Detached dwellings account for the largest proportion of residential consents by a long way, followed by townhouses, then apartments, then retirement units.

    While multi-unit dwellings accounted for just over a third (36%) of all dwellings consented in 2018, this is forecast to grow to 41% of all residential dwellings in 2024.

    “The forecast is for 224,500 new dwellings to be consented over the next six years, an average of over 37,000 per year.”

    Residential buildings are by far the biggest contributor to the total construction industry – 58% in 2018, with non-residential building accounting for 22% of the industry and infrastructure, 20%.




    Industry supports building law changes

    The construction industry has voiced support for changes to New Zealand’s building laws.

    In April this year the Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) published a series of proposals for updates to building law. MBIE says the changes, aiming to improve the quality of building work, are the most significant reforms since the current Building Act was introduced in 2004.

    MBIE received over 470 submissions. It says the feedback was strongly supportive of many changes, and how the proposals should go even further in some directions.

    Around 32 percent of submissions came from consumers, 29 percent from engineers, 12 percent from builders and 7 percent each from designers and building consent authorities/officers.

    The proposals cover changes to:

    • information on building products and methods
    • the definition of restricted building work    
    • raising competency standards
    • a new certification scheme for engineers
    • removing exemptions for plumbers, gasfitters and drainlayers
    • guarantee and insurance products
    • building levy rates
    • changing offences and penalties.

    The changes are likely to be implemented over the next two to five years.

    You can find out more here.




    Over 120 standards now free

    The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has funded over 120 building standards for free download.

    The standards available free are those that help demonstrate compliance with the Building Code. MBIE says the free standards are a response to building industry concerns that the cost of standards was a barrier to Code compliance. Among the free documents is NZS 3604:2011 Timber-framed buildings.

    The free standards cover a wide range of Building Code clauses. They include:

    • NZS 4229:2013 Concrete masonry buildings not requiring specific engineering design
    • NZS 4223.3:2016 Glazing in buildings - Part 3: Human impact safety requirements
    • NZS 8500:2006 Safety barriers and fences around swimming pools, spas and hot tubs
    • NZS 1170.5:2004 Structural Design Actions - Part 5: Earthquake design actions - New Zealand

    In December 2017, MBIE made five building standards and a handbook available for free. There have been over 15,000 downloads of these since then. Find more information here.




    24,000 PV systems in New Zealand

    The installation of photovoltaic systems is continuing to grow at a strong rate.

    Residential systems account for almost 23,000 installations, with the total figure climbing to over 24,000 when other types of buildings are included.

    At the start of 2014 there were just 2,000 PV systems on New Zealand houses.

    The total capacity of all installed PV systems today has crossed the 100 MW mark. Total capacity was just over 8 MW at the start of 2014.

    The installation of larger residential systems has grown particularly quickly, with the number of systems with more than 10kW capacity more than trebling in just three years, to 116 by mid-2019 according to data from the Electricity Authority.

    This stands in contrast to figures for residential wind generation, which have remained effectively unchanged over the last three years.

    The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) forecasts that at least 1 in 5 houses will have a PV system by 2050 – a total of over 500,000 installations.

    At the moment there is no utility grid-scale solar generation in New Zealand. Solar generation at this scale is currently estimated to have a long run marginal cost averaging around $100–150/MWh, which is considerably higher than the cost of utility grid-scale wind generation. Forecasts by MBIE show the cost of grid solar falling to around $65/MWh by 2050, however.




    Renewables may supply 95% of power by 2050

    Updated forecasts say 95% of our electricity will come from renewables by 2050.

    In July the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) updated its Electricity Demand and Generation Scenarios. The scenarios look at potential future electricity demand up to 2050 and the generation capacity needed to meet it.

    MBIE uses five scenarios, from “business as usual” through to one where disruptive technologies are discovered. The forecasts help with planning for capital expenditure on the electricity transmission grid.

    Total electricity demand is forecast to grow by between 18 percent (in a scenario where New Zealand’s economy is battered by international trends, growing very little) to 78 percent (the “disruptive technologies” scenario).

    In every case, the proportion of electricity coming from renewable sources is forecast to grow to 95 percent. Roof-top solar generation also grows in each case, faster in some scenarios than others.

    Energy sector greenhouse gas production is forecast to fall significantly in each scenario, by up to almost 50 percent in two cases.

    You can find out more here.




    Earth buildings standards open for comment

    Updated drafts of the three New Zealand standards for earth building are open for comment.

    The three standards are NZS 4297:1998 Engineering design of earth buildings, NZS 4298:1998 Materials and workmanship for earth buildings and NZS 4299:1998 Earth buildings not requiring specific design.

    The standards have been revised to account for advances in earth building research and practice, changes in referenced standards, and changes in the Building Act and the New Zealand Building Code.

    The closing date for comments is 11 September.

    The Building System Performance section of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has sponsored access to view and print a single downloadable PDF copy of these standards free of charge. They can be accessed from the Standards website.




    New powers for councils, MBIE after earthquakes

    A Building Act amendment gives authorities greater powers to act after emergencies like earthquakes.

    Local councils and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) now have greater powers to take action under a recent amendment to the Building Act. The law change allows authorities to better assess and manage buildings during and after an emergency. Part of it follows up on recommendations made by the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission.

    From December this year, after an emergency councils will be able to:

    • carry out work on or demolish any buildings that pose an immediate risk to life, or risk damage or disruption to neighbouring buildings or public thoroughfares
    • require building owners to provide information, such as detailed engineering assessments, to help determine the risks posed by their buildings
    • require damaged buildings to be repaired or demolished on a case-by-case basis.

    The Act also gives MBIE much clearer powers to investigate significant building failures. This is a response to difficulties experienced during investigations in recent years.

    In coming months, MBIE will work with a representative group of territorial authorities and with other agencies as appropriate to discuss roles, responsibilities and processes.

    MBIE will also prepare updates to guidance documents on the management of buildings after earthquakes.




    Building Code changes to simplify compliance

    The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has published changes to Building Code documents.

    MBIE has said that the changes “will support housing densification, healthier homes, and easier pathways to Building Code compliance.”

    The updates most relevant to residential and mid-rise construction include:

    • Adding extractor fans as a compliant way to ventilate bathrooms and kitchens (amending G4/AS1), so that homeowners can more easily comply with the new Healthy Homes Standards.
    • Making light steel framing a standard compliance solution (amending B1/VM1, B1/AS1, and B2/AS1). This will reduce the need for peer review around the structural design of light steel-framed buildings and give compliance certainty for designers and developers considering light steel framing
    • Updating the Water Supplies and Foul Water sections of the Building Code to cite the most recent joint Australian/New Zealand plumbing and drainage standards (amending G13/AS1, G13/VM2, G13/AS2 and G13/AS3; amending G12/VM1, G12/AS1 and G12/AS2). This will make it easier to show compliance and aligns with industry best practice.
    • Bringing together six separate Fire Acceptable Solution documents into one all-encompassing document that is clearer, more consistent, and covers things that weren’t included in the previous version. This means less ambiguity and confusion across the sector about which document to use and an easier way for people to find information. The changes are summarised in the first edition 2019 C/AS2 fact sheet.
    • Aligning the provisions for hollow-core flooring with the Concrete Structures Standard to allow increased depth of hollow-core flooring (amending B1/VM1). This gives building owners more options and makes it easier to comply with the Building Code.
    • Providing a new test method E2/VM2 for building facades up to 25 m using the BRANZ Evaluation Method as a way to confirm building cladding is weathertight.



    Over 120 standards now free

    The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has funded over 120 building standards for free download.

    The standards available free are those that help demonstrate compliance with the Building Code. MBIE says the free standards are a response to building industry concerns that the cost of standards was a barrier to Code compliance. Among the free documents is NZS 3604:2011 Timber-framed buildings.

    The free standards cover a wide range of Building Code clauses. They include:

    • NZS 4229:2013 Concrete masonry buildings not requiring specific engineering design
    • NZS 4223.3:2016 Glazing in buildings - Part 3: Human impact safety requirements
    • NZS 8500:2006 Safety barriers and fences around swimming pools, spas and hot tubs
    • NZS 1170.5:2004 Structural Design Actions - Part 5: Earthquake design actions - New Zealand

    In December 2017, MBIE made five building standards and a handbook available for free. There have been over 15,000 downloads of these since then.Find more information here.




    Draft specs for C&D waste released

    Best-practice specifications for managing construction and demolition waste have just been released.

    The specification will form the basis of an Environmental Choice New Zealand licence/label that construction industry firms who adopt environmental best-practice in dealing with waste can apply for.

    One of the goals is to reduce the waste that goes to landfill. It has been estimated that C&D waste makes up half of New Zealand’s total waste going to landfill. Each home constructed generates an average of four tonnes of waste. It has been demonstrated that simply by sorting waste, at least half of it could be diverted from landfills and cleanfills.

    The development was supported by a $35,000 grant from the Auckland Council’s Waste Minimisation and Innovation Fund.

    Comments on the draft specifications are open until 13 August.

    Find our more and download the draft specification here.




    Survey finds little use of dust control

    A survey of 250 Waikato construction workers found poor health protection around dust exposure.

    Breathing in dust, including silica dust from concrete work, can lead to serious illnesses including silicosis, lung cancer, asthma and progressive diseases such as emphysema. Many construction workers are exposed to high levels of dust in their work.

    A recent study asked people about how often they carried out certain work, and the protection they took when they did. The work was: cutting, drilling, crushing, grinding or polishing concrete, jackhammering, cutting or sanding wood and cutting or sanding plasterboard or fibre-cement board.

    The results showed the industry has a long way to go to achieve good safety practices on site:

    • Only 28% of workers said they always wore a respirator when performing dusty work (70% said they did ‘often’ or ‘sometimes’).
    • Over a quarter of workers did not use water suppression or dry dust extraction when cutting, drilling, grinding or polishing concrete.
    • Near two-thirds did not use dry dust extraction when cutting or sanding wood.
    • Over three quarters of workers usually used a dry broom to clean up dust.
    • Workers under 25 were significantly less likely to think about risks to their health or wear a respirator than workers over 25.

    You can find more information here.




    Work pressures in industry suicides

    A study finds work stress behind many suicides in the construction sector.

    The study by Site Safe reviewed 300 coroners’ files of suicides 2007–2017 by people who worked in building.

    Coroners’ reports listed workplace pressure as a factor in nearly a third (32.3%) of all cases. The stresses included:

    • job insecurity or uncertainty
    • the stress related to running a business
    • pressure to deliver under deadlines
    • juggling responsibilities
    • dealing with an injury or illness affecting the ability to work.

    Self-employed people or business owners were twice as likely to have been impacted by work-related factors than employees.

    Almost all (99%) of the 300 people were men, with 15% being 20–24 years old.

    Site Safe is developing a mental health and wellbeing strategy based on the report findings. 

    The report was co-funded through the building research levy.

    You can find more information here.




    Deadline close for insulation in rentals

    By 1 July 2019, rental homes must have ceiling and underfloor insulation installed.

    The requirement was set out in a law passed in May 2016. It applies to all residential rental properties except those where it is physically impossible to insulate or installing insulation would require major renovations. Not having insulation by July is a breach of the Residential Tenancies Act. In the first instance a $4000 penalty can be applied.

    Details of the specific insulation requirements can be found on the Tenancy Services website.

    It has been a requirement since 1 July 2016 for landlords to disclose in new tenancy agreements the extent of insulation in their rental properties. This separate signed insulation statement must disclose whether there is insulation in the rental home, where it is, what type and what condition it is in.




    Urban growth is changing our environment

    A stocktake of our environment, including urban growth, has turned up some worrisome facts.

    Urban areas have expanded by more than 10 percent since 1996, especially around Auckland and the Waikato. Around the country, an average of 5,800 new lifestyle blocks have been created each year since 1998, many encroaching on prime food-growing soils.

    At the same time as our cities are expanding they are also squeezing in more people –Auckland’s population density grew from 21 people per hectare to 25 people per hectare in the period 1996–2013.

    Air pollution, often from home heating in winter, sometimes exceeds standards and guidelines.

    The data, including figures not widely published before, is in the new report Environment Aotearoa 2019, released by the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand.

    The report also looks at our climate. Four of the last six years have ranked among the warmest on record, and the average temperature is the hottest it has been in 10,000 years. Since 1977 New Zealand’s glaciers have lost around a quarter of their ice.

    Looking at how we can reduce emissions to tackle climate change, the report notes that New Zealand's rate of per person greenhouse gas emissions per person is high – above the average of industrialised nations.

    In a separate piece of work, EECA commissioned research into how New Zealanders think about energy use and climate change. Energy use makes up 40 percent of New Zealand’s total greenhouse gas emissions. EECA points out that switching to LED lights, heat pumps and electric vehicles has the potential to reduce our emissions.

    EECA is using the findings of the research to better target its campaigns and programmes.

    Environment Aotearoa 2019 was published jointly by Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand. For more information see




    Big overhaul for building laws

    Consultations have opened on the biggest change to building laws in over a decade.

    The Ministry of Business, innovation and Employment (MBIE) published a discussion paper on 16 April. The paper outlines areas of concern in the industry and possible changes. They fall into 5 key areas. The proposals include:


    • clarify roles and responsibilities for building products and methods
    • require manufacturers and suppliers to provide information about products
    • strengthen the product certification framework
    • easier consenting for modern construction methods (including prefabricated)


    • change the LBP scheme to lift competence and widen the definition of restricted building work
    • a new licensing system for engineers and limit who can do safety-critical engineering work
    • remove exemptions that let unlicensed people do plumbing/gasfitting/drainlaying


    • require a guarantee and insurance products for residential new builds and big alterations, with opt-out choice for homeowners


    • reduce the building levy from $2.01 (inc GST) to $1.50 (inc GST) (per $1,000)
    • standardize the levy threshold at $20,444 (incl GST)
    • let MBIE spend funds raised by the levy more widely


    • increase maximum financial penalties
    • set different maximum penalties for individuals and organisations
    • extend the time enforcement agencies can lay a charge from 6 to 12 months

    The deadline for submissions is 5pm on Friday 7 June 2019.

    You can find more information here.




    Entries open for Sustainability Awards

    The NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards are open for entry.

    The Awards are open to companies of all sizes, individuals and not-for-profit bodies. There are 11 different categories. Entry is free.

    These are New Zealand’s leading sustainability awards and have been running for 17 years. The Awards are an excellent way to get nationwide recognition of sustainability achievements.

    Several companies and individuals connected with the construction industry have done well in previous years.

    Entries close on 14 June.You can find more information here.




    New standards for rental homes

    Many rental properties will need heating, insulation and ventilation upgrades under the Government's new healthy homes standards.

    Announced in February 2019, the standards set minimum requirements for heating, insulation, ventilation, moisture and drainage and draught stopping in residential rental properties:

    • All rental homes must have a heater that can heat the main living area to 18°C.
    • Rental homes must have ceiling and underfloor insulation that either meets the 2008 Building Code insulation standard, or (for existing ceiling insulation) has a minimum thickness of 120 mm.
    • Kitchens and bathrooms must have extraction fans or rangehoods.
    • Where rental homes have an enclosed subfloor space, property owners will need to install a ground moisture barrier to stop moisture rising into the home
    • The standards reinforce existing law that landlords must have adequate drainage and guttering to prevent water entering the home.
    • Draughts that make a home harder to heat will have to be blocked.

    The timeline for the new standards is:

    • 1 July 2021 – Private landlords must ensure that their rental properties comply with the healthy home standards within 90 days of any new tenancy.
    • 1 July 2021 – All boarding houses must comply with the healthy home standards.
    • 1 July 2023 – All Housing New Zealand houses and registered Community Housing Providers houses must comply with the healthy home standards.
    • 1 July 2024 – All rental homes must comply with the healthy home standards.

    Nearly 600,000 households rent in New Zealand. BRANZ research has found that rental housing is of significantly poorer quality than owner-occupied housing.

    The Ministry of Health says 6,000 children are admitted to hospital each year for health problems caused or made worse by poor housing. These children are nearly four times more likely to be re-hospitalised than the average child and 10 times more likely to die in the following 10 years.

    You can find more information about the healthy home standards here.




    House problems seen but not fixed

    Just knowing that a house has safety, health or energy efficiency problems isn't enough for homeowners to take action, a study has found.

    University of Otago researchers recruited 83 homeowners, including nine landlords, in Taranaki, and carried out a warrant of fitness (WOF) assessment on their homes. The WOF is a pass/fail tool covering 29 criteria that have an important impact on health, safety and energy efficiency.

    While most properties passed most items, just seven (8%) passed the whole WOF, while 76 (92%) failed in one or more criteria.

    In areas to do with safety, most properties passed criteria for lighting, power outlets and light switches, and intact wall, ceiling and floor linings. Most common failings were having slippery/mossy paths, decks and other surfaces (30% failed) and not having window security stays where required in living areas (21% failed).

    In health areas, most homes had a mould-free living area, a potable water supply, and an operational toilet, shower and sewage connection. Most common failings were not having functional spouting and stormwater (22% failed) and bathroom surfaces clear of mould (15% failed).

    For areas with links to multiple criteria, most common failings were lack of a ground vapour barrier (55% did not have one) and having a dry subfloor (20% failed).

    The researchers interviewed 40 homeowners to ask what, if any, improvements they planned to make, and barriers they saw to improving their homes.

    Of the interview participants, 31(76%) had fixed or intended to fix at least one of the failures identified. They were least likely to fix issues with security stays on windows and lack of a ground vapour barrier, saying that the cost was too high or the work  would not benefit health and safety. The researchers say funding support and more information about the benefits of improvements could encourage homeowners to address the problems.   

    The report was published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.



    Specs for construction waste management

    Work is underway to develop an ecolabel specification for C&D waste management.

    The intention is to help reduce the amount of construction and demolition waste going to landfills.

    The work is being done by The New Zealand Ecolabelling Trust, which administers the Environmental Choice New Zealand (ECNZ) ecolabel on behalf of the Government. The new specification will form the basis of an ECNZ licence that waste management organisations can apply for to prove that their C&D waste disposal processes are environmentally preferable.

    The Trust points to a Ministry for the Environment survey in 2008 which found that 75% of the waste in municipal landfills could have been diverted.

    The new specification will encourage waste minimisation and resource recovery. Existing service providers, waste service procurers and waste industry groups will be consulted during the development, which is expected to take 6–12 months.

    The specification will cover domestic and commercial construction and demolition waste. They will include best practice criteria for waste management on site, transportation, sorting and processing, recovery, reuse and disposal. Licensed organisations will be required to report on diverting waste from landfill.
    Auckland Council’s Waste Minimisation and Innovation Fund supported the work with a $35,000 grant. The project will initially focus on the Auckland Region, but the intention is that the specification would eventually be applicable New Zealand-wide.

    Auckland Council says that C&D waste accounts for around half of all waste to landfill in Auckland. It says says a typical new house build produces around five tonnes of waste, which AUT research suggests is equivalent to almost $30,000 worth of materials.

    Auckland’s goal is to become a Zero Waste City by 2040.




    Green Property Summit 2019

    The Green Property Summit will be held in Auckland on 11 April 2019.

    The event will be hosted by Property Council New Zealand and the New Zealand Green Building Council.

    Local and international speaker will cover topics such as an economic update on better buildings, zero carbon buildings for New Zealand, green building case studies and solutions and green building tools.

    You can find out more on the websites of NCGBC and PCNZ.




    Updated ALF tool has launched

    Version 4.0 of the BRANZ online calculator ALF was launched on 19 February.

    ALF 4.0 determines the building performance index (BPI) of a house design. It can be used to demonstrate that a specific house design complies with New Zealand Building Code clause H1 Energy efficiency.

    ALF also allows designers to optimize the energy efficiency of a house design. It can be used with both planned and existing houses.

    BRANZ Bulletin 629 provides a guide to the updated calculator.

    The address of the updated calculator will still be, but logging on to the updated tool will require a My BRANZ account. Anyone who does not have an account can easily set one up here. There is no cost to set up an account.



    Construction deaths going down

    The construction industry had fewer deaths in 2018 than 2017, but still the second-highest number of fatalities of all industries.

    Five people died in 2018, compared to 8 in 2017. Over the past seven years, 40 people have died while working in construction.

    A number of people who worked in the construction industry also died over this period as a result of exposure to asbestos in earlier years.

    Recent deaths have been caused by:

    • trench collapse
    • electric shock
    • overcome by solvents
    • vehicle rolling onto victim
    • falls
    • being struck by machinery.

    In 2017 the construction industry overtook manufacturing to have the highest number of work-related injury claims.




    Rising sea levels bring big bills

    A report by Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) looked at what rising sea levels could mean for infrastructure around our coastlines, including drinking water, wastewater and stormwater, roading and other infrastructure.

    The research modelled different sea level rises using topographical data from 62 councils.

    LGNZ noted that rising sea levels are already having an impact on some councils, particularly in the Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay, West Coast and South Dunedin.

    A rise of 0.5 metres could put roading, the three waters and building infrastructure valued at $2.7 billion at risk. The value rises to many times that figure for higher sea level rises.

    These figures do not include the structures that sit on top of the infrastructure such as homes, schools, office buildings and factories.

    The report makes four key recommendations:

    • Local government should lead a national discussion about what services can be maintained in the short, medium and long term as sea levels rise.
    • Central and local government should establish a National Climate Change Adaptation Fund to ensure costs are shared fairly.
    • A Local Government Risk Agency should be established to provide guidance to councils.
    • Local government and other owners of vulnerable infrastructure should jointly create a National Master Plan of options, priorities and ooprtunities.

    A summary of the report can be found here and the full report here




    Marlborough the latest to support solar PV

    Marlborough District Council is the latest local body to support its ratepayers who want to install a solar PV system.

    The council is currently asking for expressions of interest from service providers who are members of the Sustainable Energy Association New Zealand.

    Once the scheme is up and running the council will pay for the cost of solar panel purchase and installation by an approved provider. Ratepayers will repay the council over 9 years through a targeted rate. There is an an administration fee and an interest rate of 5.5%.

    Marlborough Council has already been offering support to ratepayers installing approved solar water heating systems.

    EECA’s Energywise website has a page here with links to many councils and banks who offer support for the installation of energy-efficient heating and insulation.



    NZGBC launches rating for existing homes

    HomeFit assesses the health, comfort, energy efficiency and safety of New Zealand homes.

    The new service is aimed at New Zealanders who want to improve their property or who are looking to buy or rent an existing home.

    An assessor goes through a property, looking at insulation, ventilation, heating and energy efficiency. The assessor considers the property’s performance in terms of providing a healthy warm and dry environment. If it meets certain requirements it gets a HomeFit stamp. Homes with a higher level of performance can get a HomeFit Plus rating. People selling or renting out a property can use the rating in their marketing material and advertising.

    The service was developed by the New Zealand Green Building Council with industry input.

    As well as the assessment service, there is an online check that people can use as a basic guide to a house and how improvements can be made.

    Read more about HomeFit here.




    New WHO housing guidelines coming

    The World Health Organisation’s new Housing and Health Guidelines are being launched in late February.

    The Housing and Health Guidelines will include recommendations on insulation, heating, crowding, disability and home injury hazards. They will be relevant for everyone from policy makers through to designers and builders.

    The University of Otago, Wellington, will host the southern hemisphere launch on Monday 25 February. There will be local and international speakers who will explain the new guidelines and recommendations for their implementation.

    You can find out more here.




    Solar panels and the review of electricity distribution prices

    Potential changes in how distribution of electricity is priced could affect households with solar panels and electric vehicles.

    Distributing electricity from the grid to users makes up around 27% of the average power bill.

    The Electricity Authority says it expects that the price anyone pays for their electricity reflects the costs of the distribution service they are getting. It says new technologies are challenging that principle. It quotes the example of a household that installs solar panels: “…they can reduce the share they pay of the distribution network costs, meaning other consumers on that network will pay a higher share.”

    The Authority is looking for changes. “Some good progress has been made by distributors, but price reform is not happening quickly enough and needs to advance with more urgency.”

    One of the reasons the Authority says changes are required is the growth of solar panel installations. In its paper, the Authority says:

    "In 2015, NZIER estimated that just in relation to solar panels alone distribution charges could increase by up to 30 per cent over 10 years. This would add 10 per cent to the retail bills of consumers without solar panels. They effectively end up cross-subsidising others to over-invest in solar panels. The economic cost of this outcome occurring has been estimated to be in billions of dollars.”

    The growth in electrical vehicles, and how and when they are charged, is also an issue.

    One part of the proposal is an annual star-rating of the efficiency of each distributor’s price structure. This rating would be made public.

    The Authority has published a consultation paper asking for feedback. Submissions can be made up until 19 February 2019. You can find more information here.




    Home solar installations bigger

    There has been a big jump in the capacity of home solar systems being installed.

    The Electricity Authority says around 300 households are installing solar systems each month. The long-term average capacity of these systems has been 3.4 kW, but from early to mid-2018, this jumped to an average 4.5 kW.

    Authority chief executive James Stevenson-Wallace says the change “could be because customers can get more value from installing a bigger solar system with a battery to store and then use the power”.

    By the end of September, 19,497 residential connections had solar panels, 3,847 more than 12 months earlier. They have a combined capacity of 67.6 MW, equivalent to the energy use of almost 12,000 households.

    Nelson has the highest proportion of residential solar installations, at 487 or 2.2 per cent.

    Auckland has the highest number, with solar panels on 4,204 homes.




    Fined for unsafe asbestos removal

    A Christchurch builder was fined for unsafe asbestos removal, the first court case under the new regulations.

    The removal work done in 2017 during a house demolition required someone with a Class A removal licence. The builder didn’t hold this licence and didn’t call in a competent person to help.

    He also failed to safely manage the risks by failing to wear appropriate protective equipment and failing to decontaminate equipment. WorkSafe says he allowed other people to enter the house unprotected and deceived the building owners into thinking he was licensed to complete the work.

    The maximum penalty for this is a fine of up to $20,000. Taking into account an early guilty plea, cooperation with WorkSafe, the fact that this was his first offence and other circumstances, the judge imposed a fine of $3000.

    The prosecution was taken under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 and the Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016.




    Home solar installations bigger

    There has been a big jump in the capacity of home solar systems being installed.

    The Electricity Authority says around 300 households are installing solar systems each month. The long-term average capacity of these systems has been 3.4 kW, but from early to mid-2018, this jumped to an average 4.5 kW.

    Authority chief executive James Stevenson-Wallace says the change “could be because customers can get more value from installing a bigger solar system with a battery to store and then use the power”.

    By the end of September, 19,497 residential connections had solar panels, 3,847 more than 12 months earlier. They have a combined capacity of 67.6 MW, equivalent to the energy use of almost 12,000 households.

    Nelson has the highest proportion of residential solar installations, at 487 or 2.2 per cent.

    Auckland has the highest number, with solar panels on 4,204 homes.




    Better-than-Code KiwiBuild houses would deliver big savings

    A new report finds benefits of $331m if KiwiBuild houses are built to achieve a Homestar 6 rating.

    The report, Codebreakers: Constructing KiwiBuild homes to a standard above the New Zealand Building Code was written by economic consultancy Sense Partners for the New Zealand Green Building Council. It examines costs and benefits of constructing the planned KiwiBuild homes to New Zealand Building Code minimums, against building to a Homestar 6 level, which means a much more sustainable home.

    Building to comply with the requirements of the Homestar 6 rating adds around 2.0–2.6% to costs compared to a home that just meets Building Code minimums. Over the longer term the house will deliver worthwhile net benefits, however.

    Looking at personal costs (such as reduced water charges in Auckland) as well as reduced social costs such as less waste/fewer carbon emissions, the long-term benefits are over $3,200 for Auckland houses, $3,700 in Wellington and $2,900 in Auckland.

    Find more information here.




    Solar installations heading towards 20,000

    New Zealand is close to passing the milestone where over 20,000 homes have solar power generation systems installed.

    The publication Electricity in New Zealand, recently updated by the Electricity Authority, reports that there were around 18,000 residential connections with installed solar generation at 31 March 2018. Considering the pace of new installations, over 20,000 homes will shortly be generating power from photovoltaic systems.

    The installed capacity by 31 March was about 62 MW (up from an estimated 43 MW in mid-2016 and just 8.2 MW in late 2013). As a proportion of total generation it is still very small – around 0.2 percent in 2017.

    One big reason explaining the growth of solar installations is greater affordability. The installation cost of solar panel systems in New Zealand fell 75 percent in the 10 years to 2018.

    Other sources of renewable energy generation include hydro, geothermal and wind. There is currently around 700 MW of large-scale wind generation available, supplying around five percent of the country’s electricity needs.

    Around 85 percent of total generation is from renewable sources, a figure that is steadily increasing. The government has a target of 100 percent renewable energy output (in years with normal hydro inflows) by 2035.

    You can download of copy of Electricity in New Zealand here.




    Wood waste a winner

    One of the top producers of timber for the building industry was a big winner in the EECA Business Awards 2018.

    Rotorua-based Red Stag Timber Company won the Large Energy User of the Year award. Instead of trucking wood waste to landfill, the company uses it to fuel
     a new 4.2MW steam turbine and a 10MW biomass boiler at its wood-processing plant. Around 60 percent of the heat generated is used in the kiln drying process.

    Res Stag annually processes more than one million tonnes of logs at its Waipa mill, producing SG framing timber, non-structural timber and landscaping timber, among other products.

    The amount of electricity produced by the mill is equivalent to the amount needed to power 7,000 houses.




    No housebuilding peak in sight

    Housebuilding nationally is in a long growth phase with no peak forecast in the next 6 years.

    The National Construction Pipeline Report 2018, released at the end of July, forecasts national building and construction activity up to 31 December 2023.

    By 2023:

    • National dwelling consents are expected to exceed historic highs at 43,000 per annum.
    • Over 220,000 dwellings are expected to be consented between 2018 and 2023.
    • New Zealand’s total construction value (which has been just under $37b for each of the last two years) is forecast to grow to $41b. Much of the growth will come 2021–2023.
    • Auckland is forecast to have the largest residential building growth by value, increasing by 33% to reach over $10b in 2023.
    • Wellington, the smallest region by residential building value, is expected to see the strongest percentage growth, increasing 65% from $1.5b per annum in 2017 to $2.5b in 2023. (Wellington experienced the strongest total construction growth – 11% – in 2017.)

    For the first time since the report was initiated in 2013 a peak in total construction value is not expected within the forecast period. Instead a more moderate sustained growth is forecast for the next six years.

    The residential building and dwelling forecasts used do not differentiate between KiwiBuild and non-KiwiBuild dwelling construction.

    The National Construction Pipeline Report was commissioned by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) and jointly prepared by BRANZ and Pacifecon.

    The 2018 report together with earlier reports can be found here




    Better-than-Code KiwiBuild houses would deliver big savings

    A new report finds benefits of $331m if KiwiBuild houses are built to achieve a Homestar 6 rating.

    The report, Codebreakers: Constructing KiwiBuild homes to a standard above the New Zealand Building Code was written by economic consultancy Sense Partners for the New Zealand Green Building Council. It examines costs and benefits of constructing the planned KiwiBuild homes to New Zealand Building Code minimums, against building to a Homestar 6 level, which means a much more sustainable home.

    Building to comply with the requirements of the Homestar 6 rating adds around 2.0–2.6% to costs compared to a home that just meets Building Code minimums. Over the longer term the house will deliver worthwhile net benefits, however.Looking at personal costs (such as reduced water charges in Auckland) as well as reduced social costs such as less waste/fewer carbon emissions, the long-term benefits are over $3,200 for Auckland houses, $3,700 in Wellington and $2,900 in Auckland.

    Find more information here.




    Universal design conference

    Different areas of universal design, including house design, are the focus for an Auckland conference in September.

    Universal design is about producing environments that are accessible to all people of all abilities, at all stages of life. It is about making design inclusive. The conference covers a wide range of topics including intergenerational living, housing for aging populations using universal design strategies, child-centred design, inspirational design, medium-density living and more.

    The conference takes place 6–7 September at the Victory Convention Centre in Freeman’s Bay, Auckland. You can find more information here.




    New version of the Wiring Rules out

    An updated version of the key standard AS/NZS 3000 (commonly known as the Wiring Rules) has just been issued.

    AS/NZS 3000:2018 Electrical Installations (known as the Australian/New Zealand Wiring Rules) has been published by Standards New Zealand. This document specifies the electrical installation safety requirements for all premises in New Zealand and Australia.

    It is being released in a soft 12-month rollout. The Electricity (Safety) Regulations 2010 still cite AS/NZS 3000:2007 (including Amendments 1 and 2). This means the 2007 standard must still be used to ensure compliance with the Regulations, until the Regulations are updated to cite the 2018 edition. This is likely to happen in 2019.

    The new version of AS/NZS 3000 is designed to be more user-friendly and to clarify a few areas that had been open to interpretation in the old version.
    There are a few changes in content too. For example, there are additional wider requirements for the installation of residual current devices (RCDs) in outdoor locations. There are new requirements around recessed downlights, through the citing of AS/NZS 60598.2.2:2016. None of the changes deal with critical safety issues.

    Make sure you have the proper document. Standards New Zealand has warned that there is a document circulating on social media purporting to be the new edition of the AS/NZS 3000:2018. This document is not authorised by Standards New Zealand. “Electricians are warned not to use the unauthorised document under any circumstances.”




    New grants for home insulation and heating

    A new four-year programme will install insulation and heating devices in the homes of low-income households.

    The $142 million programme known as Warmer Kiwi Homes will be delivered by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).

    In the first year, grants will be available to cover ceiling and underfloor insulation and ground moisture barriers. The grants could cover two-thirds of the cost. Grants to install heating appliances will be available from July 2019.

    To be eligible, households must:

    • have a Community Services Card, OR
    • live in a New Zealand Deprivation Index decile 9 or 10 area, OR
    • be referred through the Ministry of Health’s Healthy Homes Initiative.

    Homeowners can apply for insulation grants from 1 July 2018.

    Details can be found here.



    EECA to launch new energy efficiency tool

    EECA will launch a new online tool in June that will identify energy-efficient appliances.

    When the tool launches it will cover heat pump air conditioners, televisions, fridge/freezers, clothes washers, clothes dryers and dishwashers.

    In the following months, computer monitors, gas water heaters, electric water heaters, building chillers, commercial refrigeration and close control air conditioners will be added.

    The Rightware tool will help consumers and businesses to find the most energy efficient products that are regulated in New Zealand. In addition to assessing energy efficiency, the tool allows filtering by other categories including size, brand etc.

    You can find out more about the Rightware tool in a short video here.




    BuildNZ coming to Auckland in July

    There will be a wealth of construction and sustainability information at the Buildnz/designex show in July.

    The long-running trade show gives the opportunity to see new products and new technologies coming onto the market. You will also have the chance to see what is behind some fast-growing areas of construction such as prefabrication.

    Seminars will be given by product manufacturers, architects, engineers and others on topics including sustainability issues.

    At the same location, The National Safety Show will offer updates around the products, services and innovations around work safety.

    The event will be held at the ASB Showgrounds in Auckland on 4–5 July 2018.

    You can find more information here.




    Housing Summit

    The New Zealand Green Building Council will hold a Housing Summit in Auckland on 20 June.

    The one-day summit has a line-up of local and international speakers, including Matt Petersen, who is the first Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) for the City of Los Angeles.
The summit runs 8am–4.30pm and is being held at the Grand Millenium Hotel on Auckland’s Mayoral Drive.

    More details here.




    Entries open for Apprentice of the Year

    Entries are now open for carpentry apprentices to compete for the title 2018 Registered Master Builders CARTERS Apprentice of the Year.

    For the first time this year there is a practical challenge at the regional competition. Apprentices will be judged on their initial entry submission. The top 10 from each region go through to an interview and a site visit where they can explain their project.

    The regional winners compete at the national competition in Auckland in November. As well as the Apprentice of the Year title there is more than $100,000 in prizes.

    Employers who support apprentices don’t miss out. Registered Master Builders will make an award for employers this year.

    Carpentry apprentices can enter the competition here. Entries close on Monday 4 June.




    Building standards access and updates

    Some key building standards can now be read online for free while others are about to be updated.

    The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has sponsored some key building-related standards so they can be read online at no charge. They are:

    • NZS 3902:2004 Housing, alterations and small buildings contract
    • NZS 4121:2001 Design for access and mobility: Buildings and associated facilities
    • NZS 4218:2009 Thermal insulation – Housing and small buildings
    • NZS 4514:2009 Interconnected smoke alarms for houses
    • NZS 8500:2006 Safety barriers and fences around swimming pools, spas and hot tubs
    • SNZ HB 3604:2011 Timber-framed buildings – Selected extracts from NZS 3604:2011

    Some other key building standards are in the process of being updated and are now open for comment. They include:

    • NZS 3602:2003 Timber and wood based products for use in buildings
    • NZS 3640:2003 Chemical preservation of timber and wood based products

    You can find more details on the Standards New Zealand website.

    MBIE has also launched a new search engine, Building CodeHub, to help people find the latest building rules and guidance information.




    Energy efficiency gains of $300 million possible

    A new report says significant benefits are achievable from greater household energy efficiency.

    The gains won’t be achieved without action, however. That is the finding of a recent report prepared by Concept Consulting Group for EECA.

    The report, What is the case for electricity efficiency initiatives? states that more than half of household peak electricity demand is made up of lighting and space heating.

    It was estimated that in 2015, efficient LEDs made up only 20% of the residential lighting stock. Replacing an incandescent bulb with an LED saves the householder $75 – but the net savings to New Zealand are actually around $150, the report estimates.
    There are also potential gains from greater uptake of heat pumps.

    When improvements are considered together, a reduction in residential peak electricity demand of around 30 percent is possible.

    The estimated realisable net benefits come from network and generation capital expenditure savings, lower generation operating expenditure and carbon savings.

    The report can be downloaded here.



    Power system can handle solar PV growth

    Research shows New Zealand’s electricity system can handle a significant increase in solar PV installations.

    Transpower recently issued a discussion document Solar PV in New Zealand. The document looks at research into how the quickly-growing number of grid-connected solar PV systems might impact on the national electricity grid.

    The research was done because rooftop solar PV electricity is different from
    electricity generated in other ways. Small solar PV installations are widely spread out across the country and are not as easy to manage from a system level
    compared to a single big generator such as a gas-fired power station.

    Transpower stress-tested the system against a scenario with a substantial amount of solar PV in New Zealand. Their findings: “We know it is already in a good
    position to enable an increase in solar PV in our communities now and in the

    Some of the issues that need to be considered if there is a big growth in solar generation include:

    • There will be a huge increase in demand for electricity from other sources at night, when people who use solar power during the day switch to power from the grid after sunset. Can enough electricity from other sources be appropriately supplied to meet this demand?
    • If there is a failure in part of the power system, can it recover to a steady, stable state if there is a lot of solar PV in the mix?
    • If there is lower demand for electricity from the grid and more local supply from solar PV, will some regional parts of the grid be harder to manage?

    The study showed that the core transmission network can accommodate significant new solar PV. This is because of its ability to accommodate two-way power flows (north-to-south and south-to-north) and for hydro generation to cover short-term variations in generation from other sources.




    Asbestos awareness

    The NZ Demolition & Asbestos Association and WorkSafe New Zealand are holding  an Asbestos Awareness Week 2018 Conference & Expo in April. It is being held at Alexandra Park Raceway in Auckland on Thursday 12 April from 10am–4.30pm. This is a free education day.

    Most work-related deaths in New Zealand are the result of exposure to asbestos. Two-thirds of the people reported to have asbestos-related disease are tradespeople. Around 170 New Zealanders die each year from asbestos-related illnesses.

    Some of the rules around Class A asbestos removal change on 4 April. From that date, anyone carrying out air monitoring or clearance inspections for Class A asbestos removal, or issuing clearance certificates for the work, will need to hold an Assessor licence.

    For more information about asbestos, see the Level page or the WorkSafe website.




    Grid-connected battery trial coming this year

    A South Auckland trial of a battery technology that could power thousands of homes will begin this year.

    The large Tesla PowerPack lithium ion battery will take energy from the national grid, store it, and return it as required, such as when energy demand spikes or there is a disruption in the normal supply.

    The energy company Mercury NZ says the 1MW/2MWh battery will be installed by August 2018.

    In South Australia, a 100MW/129MWh project using the same PowerPack  technology is the largest installation of its type in the world. Tesla has said the installation there will be able to provide sufficient electricity for 30,000 homes for a whole day. In its first full month of operation, December 2017, it generated up to 100 MW of power. The battery installation responded quickly to several major energy outages.

    The state of Victoria has since announced its own agreement to establish a grid-connected battery with Tesla. As with the South Australian installation, the Victoria project will take and store energy from a nearby wind farm.




    Net zero energy visitor accommodation

    A Glenorchy visitor complex set to open using net zero energy has put the details of its construction online.

    A visitor accommodation complex set to open in 2018 amid the mountains of Glenorchy aims to use just half the energy and water of similar facilities. It aims for net zero energy – generating as much energy as it uses. And it has been built using building materials carefully researched and selected for their sustainability.

    The project’s design aims to achieve the Living Building Challenge net zero energy building certification – one of the toughest measures of environmental sustainability.

    A high level of thermal performance is delivered by structural insulating panels. These 142 mm thick panels have a core of insulating foam, and can deliver a result significantly higher than building requirements.

    Other building materials include reclaimed wood from agricultural buildings.

    The materials used and how they were selected have been set out on the project’s website.

    You can find more details here.



    Green housing winners in sustainable awards

    People behind sustainable housing initiatives did well in the recent NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards.

    Winner of the Sustainability Superstar award was Bob Burnett of Bob Burnett Architecture. Bob designed New Zealand’s first 10-star Homestar rated homes. He also founded the Superhome Movement, promoting energy efficient, sustainable homes.

    Vector won the Revolutionising Energy award. The company partnered with Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei on a 30-home residential development for first-home buyers that includes a networked system of solar panels and batteries. Networking means that individual residents can share excess power with others in the community. In the first five months following installation, 47% of the community’s energy needs were met by onsite generation.




    Slow pace of insulation retrofits in rentals

    Rental property owners are moving too slowly to meet insulation requirements, a survey suggests.

    A member survey by the Insulation Association of New Zealand suggests that property owners are moving very slowly to meet the July 1, 2019 deadline for insulation in rental properties.

    Government estimates indicate that around 180,000 residential properties need to be retrofitted with insulation to meet requirements in the Residential Tenancies Act. The requirements were set in May 2016, with a deadline for compliance of July 2019.

    However, the insulation industry estimates that only 10,000 out of the 180,000 homes have been retrofitted in the past year.

    (The general rule requires ceiling insulation of R 2.9 for properties in zone 1 or 2, and R 3.3 for properties in zone 3, where insulation is reasonably practicable to install. Ground floor suspended floors must have insulation of at least R 1.3. There are special rules for ceiling insulation originally installed before 1 July 2016.)
    Rental property owners who fail to comply could face a fine of up to $4000.



    Membership leap at Green Building Council

    2017 has seen a host of new organisations join the New Zealand Green Building Council.

    The Council now has over 400 members.

    Arrivals this year include government bodies as well as corporates, including ANZ, Auckland Airport, Bunnings, Housing New Zealand, Methven NZ, Ministry of Education, New Zealand Defence Force, Oceania Healthcare, Ports of Auckland and Watercare.

    The New Zealand Green Building Council was founded in July 2005 to promote safe, warm, healthy and efficient buildings. It had 31 member companies when it was founded. Its key services include the building rating tools it administers: Homestar, Green Star and NABERS NZ.

    In October 2017, Gary Walker, the executive general manager of Hawkins, was voted in as the new Chair of NZGBC.




    Small homes win top award

    Sustainable city homes win supreme design award.

    Two 74m2 Christchurch city homes took the supreme award in the 2017 ADNZ/Resene Architectural Design Awards. The award judges described the Madras Street cottages on a 300m2 central city site as "an exemplar for urban living".

    The two-storey cottages were designed by Mitchell Coll of Coll Architecture. Energy efficiency and sustainability were a key part of the design decisions made.

    ADNZ Chief Executive Astrid Andersen said the winning cottages were game-changing for the industry. "It opens the door for New Zealand to lead the way in multi-unit compact home design."

    Part of the distinctive exteriors have rusted Corten steel fixed as a rain screen.

    Careful thought has been put into durability. If a landowner wants to make other use of the site, the two cottages can be unbolted and transported to another location. If a serious earthquake hits, the foundation design of steel bearers on screw piles includes adjustable brackets that allow the structure to be relevelled.




    Building firms in awards finals

    Building industry companies are among finalists in the 2017 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards.

    A finalist for the category “Sustainability Superstar” is Bob Burnett, who founded the Superhome Movement that encourages energy efficient, sustainable homes. Bob designed New Zealand’s first 10-star Homestar rated home.

    A finalist in the “Going Circular” category is Clearsite Demolition Ltd, which deconstructs houses rather than just demolishing them. Timber, historical features, and fixtures and fittings are recovered and reused, repurposed or recycled, reducing what goes to landfill by half.

    A finalist in the “Revolutionising Energy” category is Tauranga firm HR Cement, which is developed a new cement with a much lower carbon footprint than normal cement.

    The winners will be announced on 30th November.

    You can find more details here.




    Damp homes may cause asthma

    Mould in New Zealand houses may be a cause of young children developing asthma, a new study has found.

    The study looked at the homes of 150 children making a first visit to a doctor for asthma medication and the homes of 300 children who had never has asthma symptoms.
    Dampness and mould were found more frequently in the bedrooms and homes of children who had developed asthma compared to the others. The more mould found in the bedroom, the higher the risk that a child would develop asthma.
    Researchers at the University of Otago, Wellington, say it has long been known that damp homes can make asthma worse. This study goes beyond that, showing that the mould in houses may actually be a cause of the asthma in the first place.

    The study has been published in the international journal Indoor Air.

    A BRANZ survey of 560 New Zealand homes in 2015/2016 found mould present in around half of them. Ventilation was found to be insufficient. Half of all bathrooms and kitchens did not have extract fans to vent damp air outside to the house.




    A sustainable Expo

    Auckland Build Expo 2017, on 2–3 November, will have a lot of information about sustainable construction. Read more.

    Conference speakers include:

    • Andrew Eagles from the New Zealand Green Building Council, speaking on ‘The coming revolution to buildings and homes’
    • Francesca Lipscome, speaking on ‘Building products and the importance of Ecolabels in NZ’
    • Alec Couchman, speaking on ‘Passiv-Haus building in Christchurch’
    • Evžen Novák, speaking on ‘Sustainable architecture using timber technology’.

    Build 2017 includes a Sustainability Summit. In addition to a variety of presentations, this includes an exhibition feature area.

    Auckland Build 2017 takes place at ASB Showgrounds, Greenlane, Epsom, Auckland, 9.30am–5.30pm, 2–3 November.

    Find more information here.




    Homestar certification in new partnership

    Superhome tour homes will get Homestar certification under a new agreement. This is the result of a new partnership between the New Zealand Green Building Council and the Superhome movement.. A new partnership between the New Zealand Green Building Council and the Superhome movement will see Superhome buildings verified under NZGBC’s Homestar scheme.

    The Superhome movement was started in Christchurch by architectural designer Boib Burnett, who designed the first New Zealand home to be given a 10-star Homestar rating.

    The movement supports greater sustainability in houses and provides tours of innovative homes. Over 3,000 people have taken advantage of the tours to date.

    There are plans to expand to provide tours in other centres including Auckland, Wellington, Queenstown and Wanaka.




    Homestar V4 launched

    Version 4 of the Homestar efficiency rating tool has been officially launched.

    The new easier-to-use version of the Homestar tool is now in place. The tool measures efficiency of New Zealand houses and apartments, encouraging the construction of warmer, drier, healthier homes. It rates homes on a scale up to 10.

    The tool can be applied to both plans and to a finished home. The areas it considers include site, materials, waste, energy, health and comfort, water and home management.

    The New Zealand Green Building Council launched the first version of Homestar in 2011. The latest version, refined after industry input, streamlines the assessment process.



    $78,000 fine for safety breaches

    A construction firm and kitchen firm with the same director were recently fined $78,000 for breaches of health and safety law.

    Two workers suffered severe hand injuries from a bench saw blade while they were cutting wood. The employees had not been trained in how to safely operate the equipment and the employer did not have any systems to identify and manage risks. WorkSafe was not notified of either injury as it should have been and only became aware of the incidents some time later.

    A notifiable injury is a serious injury that requires immediate treatment other than first aid. Examples include serious deep cuts, loss of consciousness, a burn serious enough to require a compression garment or skin graft, a metal fragment or wood chip entering the eye, or a spinal injury.

    You can report an incident to WorkSafe by phone (0800 030 040), completing an online form or downloading and completing a form.

    In the 2 years to the end of July 2017, the construction industry had 827 notifiable injuries or illnesses, the highest number of all industry groups.



    Standard for renewable energy battery systems

    A new standard is being developed for battery systems used with photovoltaic and other renewable energy systems.

    The draft standard is DR AS/NZS 5139:2017 Electrical installations—Safety of battery systems for use with power conversion equipment. Existing standard do not cover recent developments, which Standards New Zealand notes include:

    • Newer battery systems such as lithium technologies (lithium ion, lithium iron phosphate), flow technologies (zinc bromine, vanadium redox flow) and hybrid ion technologies.
    • New developments such as multiple-mode inverters. These can result in batteries being continually connected to the grid, and also include a PV or other energy source as an integrated system. 

    • Significant falls in the costs of battery systems, resulting in use with more applications and a wider uptake, including in houses. 

    The new standard contains a lot of information to boost the level of knowledge and understanding. It looks at risks that may be associated with battery systems, and specifies installation methods that eliminate or reduce risk.

    The new standard is based on (and supercedes) an Australian standard, AS 4086.2—1997.  

    The closing date for comment on the new standard is 15 August 2017. The details are available here.


    Insulation grants scheme expanded

    The Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes insulation grants scheme has been extended to include low-income homeowners.

    The grants pay for half the cost of ceiling and underfloor insulation for low-income homeowners (as well as low-income tenants who are already eligible). The money will be available until the end of June 2018.

    To be eligible, homeowners must be living in a home built before the year 2000 and hold a Community Services Card.

    Since its inception, the Warm Up New Zealand insulation grants scheme has insulated around 300,000 homes. Originally due to end in June 2016, the scheme was extended in the 2016 Budget with $18 million allocated until the end of June 2018.

    Government data suggests that the avoided health costs from for Community Services Card holders getting their homes insulated are on average $854 a year.

    There are certain insulation providers involved in the scheme in each region. Details can be found here.


    Homestar V4 on the way

    A new version of the Homestar standard, Version 4, is due for release at the end of July.

    The Homestar rating tool measures the sustainability and performance of a house with a score from 1 to 10. The new version of the rating tool, developed with industry input, makes the assessment process easier.

    There has been a significant jump in the number of new homes registering with Homestar in the last two years, from under 1,000 to over 6,700.  

    You can find more information here.


    Smarter Homes website relaunched

    The New Zealand website Smarter Homes, with information about sustainable building for consumers and building professionals, has been relaunched.

    Smarter Homes is administered by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) in partnership with Beacon Pathway. Its non-technical and accessible presentation makes it ideal as a resource for homeowners looking to build or renovate.

    The website covers a wide range of topics, from choosing a site for a new home through to decisions around design, construction materials, water and waste and energy use.

    The site was originally created several years ago, but has been relaunched with updated content and new design.


    ENERGY STAR set to end

    The ENERGY STAR scheme, whose mark can be found on products and appliances that have superior energy efficiency, is to end in December 2017.

    Products and appliances that carry the ENERGY STAR label range from windows, solar water heaters and heat pumps through to washing machines, dishwashers and fridge/freezers.

    When it announced the end of the scheme, EECA (the government’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority) said that while public recognition of the label was high, it wasn’t leading to more people buying high performing products.

    Market research revealed that people want more in-depth information, such as the comparison of running costs that is behind the Energy Rating Labels on appliances. EECA is responding by developing an online tool to help people find energy efficient products that includes performance considerations.


    Poor maintenance of rental housing

    Rental properties were twice as likely to be rated “poorly maintained” compared to owner-occupied houses in the latest BRANZ House Condition Survey.

    The BRANZ House Condition Survey has been conducted roughly every 5 years since 1994. In 2010 rental properties were included for the first time, and a gap was found between the maintenance levels of owner-occupied and rental properties, with the maintenance of rental properties being noticeably poorer. Analysis of the latest (2015/16) survey data has found the pattern again.

    Of the 560 houses examined, rental homes overall were in poorer condition both inside and out. The gap between rental and owner-occupied was widest for interior linings and fittings and exterior doors and windows. A slightly higher prevalence of mould was seen in rental properties.

    The study report with the details of the survey can be downloaded here.


    Retrofitted apartment performance

    BRANZ has released a report detailing the performance achieved in an apartment block retrofit.

    Retrofit performance measurement of Kotuku Apartments reports on the upgrading of four Wellington City Council apartment blocks over 2014–2017. Experiments were carried out on the site to assess comfort, cost and liveability.

    The work found that there were marked improvements in whole-building thermal performance. The heat loss of wall elements has reduced considerably. There was also an improvement in the thermal comfort in individual apartments.

    The new showers were found to provide a considerably better user experience while not increasing hot water costs significantly.

    SR 369 (2017) Retrofit performance measurement of Kotuku Apartments can be downloaded here.


    Farewell to foil

    Foil insulation can no longer be specified under the Acceptable Solution H1/AS1 for Building Code compliance.

    The Fourth Edition of H1/AS1, which became effective on 1 January 2017, specifically excludes the use of foil insulation.

    The previous version (which ceases to have effect on 30 May 2017) permitted 100 mm draped foil as floor insulation on suspended floors with closed perimeter.

    The use of foil underfloor insulation had reduced considerably in recent decades. BRANZ for many years has specifically recommended that it not be used. However, surveys indicate that it was still used in a few cases.

    Retrofitting or repairing foil insulation under houses has been banned since 1 July 2016. People using staples or nails to attach the foil to timber members have sometimes accidentally pierced a live electrical cable. There have been five electrocution deaths and one non-fatal shock reported in New Zealand as a result.


    A photovoltaic and electric car boom may leave the poor worse off

    If PV generation and electric car use grows but electricity pricing structures don’t change, poor consumers may suffer.

    A new report has examined potential social impacts of solar panels, electric vehicles and batteries, and in particular the impact on household power bills. One of its key findings is that “poorer consumers are likely to be worse-off on average, if existing electricity pricing structures are retained and there is significant uptake of new technology…

    “Under current pricing structures, households that install solar panels typically see a fall in their power bills that is much larger than the true level of cost saving. This creates a cost shortfall that will be ‘shifted’ to other consumers – mainly onto households without solar panels.”

    The researchers examined power usage for over 100,000 households, looking at this against socio-economic data to estimate the impact of cost shifting.

    “In a scenario where existing electricity pricing structures are retained and there is 50% uptake of solar panels, we expect power bills for the poorest 10% of households to increase by around $60/year on average, whereas the wealthiest 10% of households will enjoy average bill reductions of ≈ $160/year.”

    In some cases, the poorest households would see increases of $350/year in their power bills.

    The authors suggest that New Zealand adopts an electricity pricing structure better aligned with the actual cost of supplying electricity. Prices would better reflect the costs around customer’s individual electricity use profiles.

    The report is the third and final report in the series Electric cars, solar panels and batteries in New Zealand. The first report considered potential greenhouse gas emission impacts of the technologies, the second considered the costs and benefits for consumers and New Zealand. Concept Consulting Group produced the reports, with support from electricity companies and Consumer New Zealand.

    All 3 reports are available here.


    Strengthen building regs says OECD

    Strengthen building regs says OECDStrengthen building regs says OECD

    An OECD report says New Zealand should consider modernising national building standards.

    The report, an environmental performance review for the country, says our building standards are below standards required in many other OECD member countries.

    New Zealand is one of the most urbanized countries in the world, with 86% of the population living in towns and cities of 1000 people or more, so the environmental footprint of cities is particularly important.

    “The environmental performance of the housing stock in New Zealand cities is relatively poor. About 30% of New Zealand homes are poorly insulated and a quarter of homeowners and a third of renters report problems with dampness or mould.”

    The report says that subsidies under Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes programme retrofitted about 15% of the national housing stock.

    “To avoid retrofitting needs for new housing, the government should consider modernising national building standards… New Zealand operates different voluntary building performance rating tools. Making assessments (e.g. for energy performance) mandatory for certain buildings, and gradually rolling out requirements to a larger share of the housing stock, would encourage the market to factor in energy efficiency into property prices. Building performance could also be linked to fiscal instruments (e.g. development contributions in Wellington are lower for buildings with strong environmental performance), or ease regulatory requirements (e.g. granting additional floor area for high-performing buildings).”

    The report finds that local authorities have implemented the Resources Management Act without national guidance in many areas and this has resulted in inconsistencies. The OECD recommends an evaluation of RMA implementation by local authorities, nationally standardised requirements in some domains and better guidance to local authorities on how to carry out their permitting, compliance monitoring and enforcement responsibilities.

    This is the third OECD review. The last was in 2007.



    New online PV calculator

    A new online calculator tells consumers whether installing a photovoltaic (solar) system will be cost-effective for them.

    The calculator sits on the EECA’s Energywise website. It takes into account factors such as geographic region, roof slope, current electricity use and the cost of a PV system. It then gives an estimate of the years it would take for the cost of a PV system to be repaid, and the earnings or losses that would be incurred from installing a system.

    The new tool was created by the University of Canterbury’s EPECentre through the GREEN Grid research programme, which is funded by MBIE, Transpower and the EEA. The calculator uses data from NIWA (the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research) through its SolarView service.

    The calculator is designed for typical New Zealand homes and is not applicable for commercial buildings or off-grid installations.

    You can find the calculator here.


    Green Property Summit 2017.

    “Future Cities Post 2020” is the theme for the NZGBC/P/operty Summit 2017, to be held in Auckland on 29 March.

    The keynote speaker is Dr John Keung, who has been the CEO of Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority (BCA) for the last decade.

    There is also a strong lineup of local speakers.

    Other activities organized in conjunction with the event include a guided tour of some key sustainable buildings in the Auckland CBD, arranged for the afternoon before the one-day summit.

    You can find more information and register here.



    Efficiency, renewables keys to the future

    Energy efficiency in houses and domestic PV generation take key roles in new energy policy briefs.

    The University of Otago’s Centre for Sustainability has released ten policy briefs from its Energy Cultures research. Our housing stock and how it can be improved takes a prominent place.

    The policy briefs point out that change is required. Our greenhouse gas emissions are trending upwards and are already among the highest in the world on a per-capita basis. Changing the agricultural component of this is difficult, but the path for making a difference in our housing stock is clear.

    Professor of Construction at Massey University, Robyn Phipps, says New Zealand lags behind many developed countries in energy efficiency. “A properly insulated home, with some thermal mass being warmed by correctly placed windows, will need almost no extra heating or cooling. Regrettably, many home designers turn to heat pumps rather than good design solutions.”

    “Our energy standards are lower than many countries with even warmer climates.” She points out that we have fewer PV panels installed than some countries that receive much less sunshine than New Zealand.

    The policy briefs point to research conducted at Oxford University in 2016 that showed PV panels around the world have become approximately 10 per cent cheaper each year since the 1980s, a trend that is likely to continue.

    The falling costs are part of the reason behind the rapid growth in uptake of PV generation in New Zealand, with around 12,000 household installations to date. On a domestic level, this is the most popular form of renewable by far – only 47 households generate electricity with wind.



    Guidance on supervision

    A complaint about the level of supervision carried out by a licensed building practitioner has led to some useful new guidance for builders.

    Supervision by an LBP on a building site involves overseeing and controlling or directing the work to make sure that it is done competently and complies with the building consent (where a consent is required).

    A complaint made to the Building Practitioners Board about supervision has led to the Board writing a decision that gives useful guidance on the topic.

    The decision makes it clear that:

    • The greater the complexity and riskiness in a job, the greater the level of supervision required.
    • Consider a worker’s level of care and attitude. This isn’t necessarily tied to their age or years on the job. It is possible that a thoughtful younger worker with a good eye for detail requires less time being supervised than an older worker who is slapdash and doesn’t read the plans.
    • Consider proven experience. Someone who has done a job expertly a number of times is likely to need less supervision than someone new to the task.
    • Look at the different parts of a job. The parts which are trickier to do will need more supervision than the parts that are easy.
    • In most cases, supervision requires you to be on site with the worker – you can’t give proper supervision from a distance. There is a strict limit to what you can achieve through phone calls etc.

    It is best to be cautious at first until you have a clear understanding of the attitides, abilities and experience of the people you are supervising.

    A PDF of the full complaint decision can be found here.


    Ventilation seminar

    BRANZ scientists are taking a seminar about ventilation on the road from the end of February.

    Starting in Dunedin on 27 February, the seminar will go to Queenstown, Christchurch, Auckland (2 locations), Hamilton and Tauranga, and finish in Wellington on 10 March.

    The scientists will provide guidance on roof and living space ventilation based on BRANZ research. These seminars are popular because audience members can ask questions to the people who have actually done the key research.

    Online registration is available through



    Noise control website

    A new website has a lot of information around noise control regulations in buildings.

    The website covers the how and why of regulations around noise, including:

    • the New Zealand Building Code (and specifically clause G6 Airborne and impact sound)
    • the Resource Management Act (and especially section 16)
    • district plans
    • common law.  

    The website is sponsored by a private company.



    Environmental label scheme now covers coated steel

    Prepainted and resin-coated steel products that are more environmentally friendly can now carry the Environmental Choice label.

    The environmental labelling programme Environmental Choice NZ (ECNZ) has released a new specification (EC-57) for prepainted and resin-coated steel products. This means that people specifying coated metal roofing, cladding, fencing, framing and guttering steel products have new help in selecting a product.

    ECNZ already had a specification (EC-41) for flat and long steel products. The new spec expands that further along the production chain, to painting/coating and rollforming/pressing flat steel products.

    The specification considers the life of the product from raw material extraction and processing, through coating application and forming, to transport, use, disposal or recovery/recycling. Chemicals and energy used and waste and emissions produced are taken into account.

    Manufacturers whose products comply with the new spec can apply for a license to use the Environmental Choice label on their products.

    You can read more here.



    New asbestos guidance

    New guidance around managing and removing asbestos applies from 3 November 2016.

    The new Approved Code of Practice: Management and Removal of Asbestos sets out how to comply with new legal requirements, including the Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016.

    The Code of Practice replaces the existing New Zealand Guidelines for the Management and Removal of Asbestos (3rd Edition)

    The Code can be used in court as evidence of whether or not someone complied with the requirements of health and safety law. Breaches of law can be costly – in 2015 a Christchurch company was fined $45,000 for failing to properly identify and manage asbestos at a demolition site.

    Many building practitioners will come into contact with materials containing asbestos during renovation or demolition work. BRANZ has estimated that approximately 25,000,000 m2 of asbestos fibre-cement roof and wall claddings were installed on New Zealand buildings in the years 1945–1985.   

    Download the Code from the WorkSafe website here.


    New report on PV benefits

    A new report describing the financial and environmental benefits of photovoltaic generation in New Zealand has just been released.

    The report Solar PV and batteries in New Zealand – Consumer centric electricity was prepared for SEANZ, the Sustainable Electricity Association of New Zealand. It was produced by the Australian energy consulting firm IT Power.

    The report says that the energy industry in New Zealand should be open to the greater uptake of photovoltaic (PV) generation.

    It says that existing PV installations are already having a positive effect in avoiding emissions of greenhouses gases, and this could grow significantly with expanded PV uptake.

    It also examines financial benefits: “On average, during the four years ending 2016, households that have installed solar PV are estimated to have reduced their electricity bills by around $647 per year.”

    You can download a PDF of the report here.



    Key insulation standard updatedKey insulation standard updated

    NZS 4246, which gives guidance on installing bulk insulation in houses, has been updated.

    NZS 4246:2016 Energy efficiency – Installing bulk thermal insulation in residential buildings was released in late August. The updated standard replaced the 2006 version on 30 August 2016.

    The 160-page standard provides guidance for industry practitioners and consumers on the right way to install bulk insulation products in homes. The aim is to ensure the insulation achieves the intended thermal performance and durability. It also addresses safety issues.

    Standards New Zealand states that the 2016 edition:

    • now provides guidance on installing insulation in steel-framed constructions
    • covers concrete slabs on ground
    • updates content for installing insulation around luminaires (where there have been significant technology advances since the standard was last revised in 2006)
    • includes new diagrams, photographs and figures
    • has been rewritten to align with the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

    The guidance covers new construction as well as retrofits.


    New standard on electric grid connection via inverter

    Standards New Zealand has just released AS/NZS 4777.1:2016 Grid connection of energy systems via inverters - Part 1: Installation requirements.

    The new standard describes “the electrical and general safety installation requirements for inverter energy systems (IES) up to or equal to 200 kVA for the injection of electric power to an electrical installation connected to the grid at low voltage.”

    It covers design considerations, connection, required documentation and signage, earthing, and some information on electricity distributor requirements.

    The new standard was published in 30 September 2016. It sits alongside AS/NZS 4777.2:2015 Grid connection of energy systems via inverters – Part 2: Inverter requirements.



    Cost savings from PV studied

    A study has found that photovoltaic systems are unlikely to provide consumer cost savings at present, but are set to become increasingly attractive.

    The cost effectiveness of solar PV is very sensitive to each consumer’s situation. It is  strongly affected by the level and pattern of power use, choice of panel size, and household location.

    An analysis of over 1,000 potential combinations of these factors indicates that while solar PVs are unlikely to provide consumer cost savings in most situations under existing electricity tariff structures, they are likely to become increasingly attractive as panel prices decline further.

    Those are some of the findings from the report Electric cars, solar panels, and batteries in New Zealand Volume 2: The benefits and costs to consumers and society. The report was released in June 2016 by Concept Consulting Group.

    “Our analysis of batteries shows that they are unlikely to save consumers money based on existing prices. But battery prices are coming down and they are expected to become attractive in some situations over time.”

    The report raises the possibility that household batteries may not be the best energy storage option. “Batteries in consumers’ electric vehicles, using the ‘vehicle-to-grid’ injection technologies that are emerging with new EVs, may be a better option in the future.”

    Poor electricity and CO2 price signals that don’t help consumers making decisions around PV are also likely to be slowing the uptake of some other technologies, the report finds. These include home insulation, wood burners, efficient lighting, and ‘smart’ appliances.

    The report’s authors modelled approximately 1,000 different combinations of consumer situation (usage level and patterns) and PV panel sizes, using two years of hourly sunshine and temperature data for three different locations. The data shows considerable variation in exports. Even households with higher than average power consumption and smaller 2 kW panels are likely to export some power.

    The modelling showed a wide range of potential financial outcomes, with relatively few situations yielding a positive net benefit. However, the analysis
    indicates that solar PV would become cost effective for around 40% of the modelled household situations within 10 years and for most households within 20 years if retail tariff structures continue unchanged.

    You can find more information here.


    BRANZ 2016 Annual Review online

    The BRANZ 2016 Annual Review, giving details of its work and research projects, is now available.

    This year BRANZ invested $12.4 million in research and knowledge dissemination across 134 projects. Just over half of these projects are being carried out by BRANZ teams. Sixty external projects have been funded involving partnerships and collaboration with 28 research and government agencies.

    The new Annual Review gives details of some of the work, in areas such as:

    • managing moisture better
    • better ventilation in roof cavities
    • better use of heat pumps
    • warmer drier apartments.

    This year BRANZ’s weathertightness, air quality and ventilation engineering (WAVE) research programme produced useful insights on the importance of roof
    ventilation in controlling dampness. BRANZ researchers studied the effects of extra
    ventilation in homes with traditional gable roofs and skillion-type roofs (flat roofs with a steep pitch). They found that extra ventilation channels reduced overall
    condensation in both roof types compared with roofs with few or no vents. They also found that reducing moisture in living spaces through extra ventilation can
    reduce condensation in the roof space.

    BRANZ researchers also worked with Wellington City Council on the refurbishment of a 1960s apartment complex. BRANZ modelling indicated that the proposed upgrades would make a massive improvement. Now the refurbishment is completed and the tenants back in their homes, BRANZ researchers are collecting data on actual thermal performance, monitoring temperatures and energy use to track how heat flows in and out of apartments. The findings will help other low to medium-income housing providers to deliver better quality accommodation.

    BRANZ released a new online resource to support better earthquake-resilient design and raise the seismic performance of New Zealand’s building stock.

    The Appraisals team carried out a new type of Appraisal, for a green roof
    that could support grasses and trees.

    BRANZ supports Insulating Glass Unit Manufacturers Association (IGUMA) members by testing the 38 different double-glazing systems being manufactured.

    BRANZ is now taking steps to become a fully accredited product certification body
    that provides CodeMark certification.

    You can read more in the 2016 Annual Review online here.


    World Green Building Week 2016

    World Green Building Week 2016 runs 26 September–2 October. It will be marked in New Zealand with a range of interesting activities.

    Building tours, walking tours and bus tours are all planned.

    On 28 September you get a chance to see inside the 5 Green Star-rated Kathmandu and Vodafone buildings in the Christchurch Innovation Precinct.

    Auckland events include:

    • A green architecture walking tour on 25 September taking in some key downtown Auckland buildings.
    • A bus tour on 27 September that includes the 5 Green Star-rated Hobsonville Point Primary School and a renovated house that went from 2 to 9 Homestar rating.
    • An introductory session on green buildings on September 29.

    There is also a photography competition open to New Zealand students. Photograph(s) must be uploaded to Instagram by 23 September (meeting certain conditions) and will be judged on 26 September. The competition runs from 29 August.

    Registration is required for some events. You can find out more on the New Zealand Green Building Council website.



    New research, wind and structural design

    Standards New Zealand has published an amendment about wind actions to the Structural design actions standard, AS/NZS 1170.2.

    This revision incorporates research and experiences from severe wind events in Australia and New Zealand and removes some ambiguities.

    The amendment can be downloaded from the Standards New Zealand website.

    The standard sets out procedures for determining wind speeds and resulting wind actions to be used in the structural design of structures subjected to wind actions other than those caused by tornadoes.



    New rules for earthquake-prone buildings

    The Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act brings big changes to the system for identifying and remediating earthquake-prone buildings.

    The new system brings more direction from central government and less reliance on individual territorial authorities developing their own policies. TA’s still hold the responsibility for administering the Act in their area, however.

    Among the changes:

    • A new national register of earthquake-prone buildings will be developed, including information on the earthquake ratings of the buildings. This will be publicly accessible.
    • A new document will be developed, the Earthquake-Prone Building (EPB) methodology. This will set out how TAs can identify earthquake-prone buildings. The document will include a profiling tool and engineering guidelines for making seismic assessments.
    • EPB notices, which show earthquake ratings, must be placed on earthquake-prone buildings.
    • New Zealand will be divided into 3 seismic risk areas – low, medium and high – based on the seismic hazard factor (‘Z’ factor).
    • Based on these risk areas, there will be targeted timeframes for TAs to identify earthquake-prone buildings and for owners to strengthen or demolish them.
    • A new category of priority buildings in medium and high-risk areas will be defined. These buildings – schools, emergency facilities, certain hospitals etc – must be identified and strengthened in half the time.

    The exact date the new law will come into effect has not yet been set, but it will be within the next 2 years.

    You can find more information here.



    Health and Safety Awards

    Entries have opened for the 2016 Site Safe Construction Health and Safety Awards.

    The awards, open to individuals and businesses of all sizes, recognise those who have shown innovation and leadership in health and safety in the building industry. They look for an individual or site or company showing new ideas to support health and safety systems or behaviours or deal with a specific hazard.

    Categories include:

    • The Unitec Safety Innovation Award, Small to Medium Business (up to 50 employees).
    • The Safety Innovation Award, Large Business (over 50 employees)
    • The Safety Leadership Award (small, medium or large business)
    • The WorkSafe NZ Safety Contribution Award (individual or small team)

    Entries close 1 September. You can find more information here.



    Maintenance schedule tool now free

    The BRANZ online tool that can be used to create maintenance schedules for new houses is now free to the building industry.

    Maintenance of houses has grown in importance in recent years, and providing details about the maintenance a new home requires is now mandatory for building practitioners under the Building Act.

    The BRANZ tool lets the designer or builder record the materials and finishes used in a building. The tool automatically fills in the maintenance requirements. The newly created maintenance schedule can then be given to the homeowners as a printed or electronic copy, and can be saved in the practitioner’s files.

    Using the tool simply requires having a My BRANZ account, which can be set up at no cost.

    The tool can be found here.



    More funding for insulation in rental properties

    New funding is available for insulation in rental properties housing low-income tenants.

    Grants will be available from 1 July 2016 for ceiling and underfloor insulation under the Warm Up New Zealand: Healthy Homes programme.

    Funding is limited and is not available for all regions. Applications close on 30 June 2016. Although the programme comes at no cost to tenants, landlords may be asked to make a cash contribution.

    You can find more information here.



    Report unfit building products

    The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has set up an email address for reporting building products that do not comply with the Building Code.

    The address is: [email protected]. Include in your email the name of the product, where you bought it, why you think it doesn’t comply with the Building Code, any technical data or information and any evidence of failure. Photographs would be helpful.

    Sometimes MBIE becomes aware of possible problems through media reports, but doesn’t have specific information directly from the industry. The new email address should help resolve that problem.

    An MBIE investigation could lead to a manufacturer or importer/supplier receiving a formal warning or a ban on the use of a product. Other possible actions include guidance prepared for the industry, or requirements made clear to those manufacturing, supplying, specifying or installing building products.

    The MBIE’s interest is specifically in the area of building law and the Building Code and standards. If you have a more general complaint about misleading advertising or a false claim, that should go to the Commerce Commission (Tel. 0800 943 600), which is responsible for the Fair Trading Act.



    Ban proposed on retrofitting foil insulation under houses

    The serious safety risks around retrofitting foil insulation under houses are likely to see the practice banned.

    Stapling foil sheeting under the floors of existing houses has been a relatively inexpensive and popular way of adding underfloor insulation, but there are big risks involved. The main one is that people using staples or nails to attach the foil to timber members accidentally pierce a live electrical cable. There have been five electrocution deaths and one non-fatal shock reported in New Zealand from installation of foil insulation under houses.

    The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is starting consultation on a proposed ban under section 26 of the Building Act. The ban is proposed to be in place by 1 July 2016, when the changes to the Residential Tenancies Act come into force.

    The ban would only apply to retrofitting foil to existing buildings, not yet to installation in new buildings. The risk of electrocution does not apply in the same way in most new building installations. (However, BRANZ discourages use of foil for underfloor insulation because it tends to lose performance over time.)

    WorkSafe is currently consulting on some guidance and intends for it to be finalised by 1 July 2016. You can read the draft here.

    MBIE plans to change Building Code Acceptable Solution H1/AS1 to remove the ability to use foil insulation as an Acceptable Solution. These changes will be consulted on from about June and are intended to be in place by the end of 2016.

    Standard NZS 4246 Energy Efficiency – Installing Insulation in Residential Buildings is also being revised and Standards New Zealand is beginning the final consultation on it.



    An introduction to life cycle assessment

    A new BRANZ bulletin explains this tool for calculating the potential environmental impacts of building materials.

    Buildings consume a lot of resources and energy in their construction and their use over many decades. But how do you measure and compare the potential environmental impacts of different materials and building elements, and even whole buildings?

    Life cycle assessment takes energy simulation model results and combines them with information about materials to show potential impacts. It quantifies use of resources and energy and emissions to land, water and air that occur across the life of any product. LCA is systematic and holistic, looking at manufacture, use and disposal of a building product, from a nail or screw to an entire building.

    It can support design decisions by showing the magnitude of potential environmental impacts and where they occur in the life cycle.

    It can also help product manufacturers to determine where they should focus their product improvement efforts.
    Bulletin 596 An Introduction to Life Cycle Assessment sets out the stages of an assessment, its applications, benefits and limits.

    The bulletin is available from the BRANZ bookstore.



    Insulation standard open for comments

    An updated version of NZS 4246 Energy efficiency – Installing bulk thermal insulation in residential buildings is open for public comments.

    This standard outlines the correct way to install insulation products so they achieve the intended thermal performance without compromising durability or safety.

    The 2006 standard has been restructured, updated and extended with guidance on installation in steel-framed constructions and for concrete slabs.

    The draft of the new standard is open for public comments for 4 weeks, closing on 3 June. It can be found here.

    Standards New Zealand encourages comment on a Word form that can be downloaded from its website.

    This standard is made up of sections that can be read as a stand-alone set of guidance principles, with reference to other sections as required.

    Reflective foil is still excluded excluded from the standard due to concerns about electrical safety risks, in situ thermal performance and durability.

    The health and safety details in Appendix B of the standard are being peer reviewed separately.



    Sustainable housing summit 2016

    The New Zealand Green Building Council is holding its Sustainable Housing Summits in June.

    The international keynote speaker is Vancouver Deputy Mayor Andrea Reimer. Andrea was the lead councillor on the city's Greenest City Action Plan that lead to Vancouver being named the fourth greenest city on earth in 2014. There are other international speakers in the programme along with local practitioners.

    The Auckland Summit takes place in the Crowne Plaza Hotel on 15 June. The Christchurch Summit takes place on 17 June in the Christchurch Civic Building on Hereford Street.

    Find more information here.


    New Health and Safety Regulations finalised

    The new Health and Safety at Work Act has now come into force.

    It is important that business owners, especially owners of small businesses, understand the new requirements and what they need to do to comply. As the government puts it, “persons conducting a business or undertaking (PCBUs) have duties to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the workplace is without risks to the health and safety of any person.”

    WorkSafe is developing fact sheets and other forms of guidance including case studies, videos and interactive tools to help people prepare.

    You can find more information on the WorkSafe website here.

    You can also subscribe for updates here.



    Photovoltaic units, electric cars and reducing greenhouse gas emissions

    Houses with an electric car in the garage will contribute to reduced greenhouse gases more than houses with solar photovoltaic units on their roof, a recent study found.

    The study, Electric cars, solar panels and batteries – how will they affect greenhouse gas emissions? was undertaken by Concept Consulting and commissioned by EECA, Consumer and electricity companies. 

    The uptake of these technologies is expected to be significant. Falling prices for domestic photovoltaic (PV) generation units have led to a greater number being installed in New Zealand.  This will continue if overseas experience is a guide. The study found that over 40% of homes have a solar panel in some parts of Australia, while in Norway, over 20% of all new car sales are electric vehicles (EVs).

    The study analysed how new technology could affect emissions by:

    • displacing conventional power stations (solar panels)
    • increasing power generation needs (EVs)
    • altering the timing of power generation requirements (batteries).

    The study found that EV uptake will reduce tailpipe emissions by replacing cars using petrol and diesel, although slightly increasing embodied emissions because EV manufacture is more emissions intensive.

    In the near term, the study expects PV uptake to displace generation from existing fossil-fuelled stations and therefore reduce emissions. However, over time, they expect solar PV uptake to increasingly substitute for new low-emission power stations (such as wind and geothermal). PV uptake may therefore have a limited displacement effect on electricity sector emissions in the medium term.

    This is different to what happens in most other countries because most of New Zealand’s electricity is generated from renewable sources (hydro, wind and geothermal). Large-scale renewables represent the least cost option for future electricity supply in New Zealand – not the case for most other countries.

    The study also considered the combined effect of PV and batteries. It found that batteries combined with PV do not fundamentally alter the results for solar PV by itself because New Zealand’s hydro stations already act like a giant battery and provide flexibility to offset the daily swings in PV output. The study expects batteries to result in a net reduction in emissions over their lifetime, even though there are embodied emissions associated with their manufacture.

    At present, the average New Zealand household is estimated to directly cause annual emissions of approximately 7 tCO2. The vast majority of these direct household emissions are from vehicles.

    You can read more here.


    New license system for asbestos removal

    A national licensing system for asbestos removal is being introduced from 4 April 2016. Three types of licence will be available under new regulations:

    Class A licence

    Any type or quantity of asbestos or asbestos-containing material, including:

    • any amount of friable asbestos or asbestos containing material (ACM)
    • any amount of asbestos-contaminated dust or debris (ACD)
    • any amount of non-friable asbestos or ACM.

    Class B licence

    • Any amount of non-friable asbestos or ACM.
    • ACD associated with removing any amount of non-friable asbestos or ACM.

    Asbestos assessor licence

    • An asbestos assessor provides air quality monitoring during removal work, inspects the finished job and provides a clearance certificate.
    • A licensed asbestos assessor will be required to assess Class A asbestos removal work from 2018 onwards.

    No licence is required for asbestos removal:

    • up to and including 10 m2 of non-friable asbestos or ACM, cumulatively, over the whole course of the removal project for the site
    • ACD that is associated with removing 10 m2 or less of non-friable asbestos or ACM and any associated minor ACD.

    The new removal licences will be held by a business, rather than a person. You can apply for a Class A and Class B licence from 4 April 2016. If you will need a Class B licence, get in touch with WorkSafe now to register your interest and speed up your licence application. For more details, click here.

    Current certificate of competence holders will be able to continue removing asbestos (in the categories specified on their certificate) and supervise asbestos removal until their certificate expires.

    Removing asbestos without following the rules and taking proper precautions is potentially extremely dangerous – most work-related deaths in the building industry are the result of exposure to asbestos during demolition or renovation.

    More detail can be also found at



    Energy use in the average New Zealand household has fallen by 10% since 2000

    The figure comes from a recent study commissioned by the Equipment Energy Efficiency Programme. The researchers go on to forecast that household average energy use will continue to fall to 2030, as will greenhouse gas emissions from households.

    New Zealand’s houses are responsible for around 11% of the country’s total energy use, and approximately 7% of greenhouse gas emissions related to energy.

    New appliance sales data quoted by EECA suggests that people buying more energy efficient appliances may be behind a large part of the energy savings. In one year, New Zealand saved the amount of electricity used by Invercargill – more than 209 gigawatt-hours. The benefits are quantified as $50 m in savings to consumers and a fall in greenhouse gas emissions broadly equal to the amount of CO2 produced by 10,000 cars in 12 months.



    New heated water standard

    The part of the plumbing and drainage standard (AS/NZS 3500) that covers heated water services has just been updated.

    In December 2015, the new publication AS/NZS 3500.4:2015 Plumbing and drainage – Part 4: Heated water services was released.

    This sets out the requirements for the design, installation and commissioning of heated water services using drinking water or rainwater or a combination of the two.

    It includes aspects of the installation from (and including) the valve(s) on the cold water inlet to any cold water storage tank or water heater and the downstream fixtures and fittings.

    The standard applies to new installations as well as alterations, additions and repairs to existing installations. It is available from Standards New Zealand. It superseded the earlier (2003) version on 14 December 2015.


    Building Resilience conference coming to Auckland

    The 6th International Building Resilience Conference will be held in Auckland in September this year.

    The theme is “Building Resilience to Address the Unexpected”. The conference is jointly organized by the Construction Management Groups at Massey University and the University of Auckland. The Global Disaster Resilience Centre (GDRC) at School, of Art, Design and Architecture at the University of Huddersfield, UK will be a key partner.

    The conference will be held 7–9 September at the University of Auckland.

    The Building Resilience conference is an annual international event that looks at resilience for coping with the threat of natural and human induced hazards. Previous conferences were held in Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom and Australia.

    Abstract submissions for the Auckland conference close on 29 February.

    You can find more information here.


    Changes to the Resource Management Act planned

    A bill aiming to streamline some areas of resource consents has been introduced to parliament.

    The Resource Legislation Amendment Bill was introduced into Parliament on 26 November 2015. It aims to make planning processes faster, more flexible, more cost-effective and more consistent across the country.

    Minister for the Environment Nick Smith said the four most significant changes were:

    • a requirement for councils to follow national planning templates to improve consistency across the country
    • three ‘tracks’ to help streamline the planning process
    • giving councils discretion to waive the need for a consent where matters were minor
    • stronger national direction on requiring consents in certain areas.

    The Minister said that the Bill narrowed the parties that must be consulted to those directly affected. A 10-day fast-track consent would be introduced for simple issues. Councils would be required to have fixed fees for standard consents so that homeowners had certainty over costs. Consents would no longer be required for activities that are already properly regulated by other Acts. The Minister said that these measures would reduce the number of consents required each year.

    If it becomes law the bill would amend the Resource Management Act 1991, the Reserves Act 1977, the Public Works Act 1981, the Conservation Act 1987, the Environmental Protection Authority Act 2011 and the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012.


    New heated water standard

    The part of the plumbing and drainage standard (AS/NZS 3500) that covers heated water services has just been updated.

    In December 2015, the new publication AS/NZS 3500.4:2015 Plumbing and drainage – Part 4: Heated water services was released.

    This sets out the requirements for the design, installation and commissioning of heated water services using drinking water or rainwater or a combination of the two.

    It includes aspects of the installation from (and including) the valve(s) on the cold water inlet to any cold water storage tank or water heater and the downstream fixtures and fittings.

    The standard applies to new installations as well as alterations, additions and repairs to existing installations. It is available from Standards New Zealand. It superseded the earlier (2003) version on 14 December 2015.



    Homestar update easier to use on apartments

    A new version of the sustainability rating tool Homestar will benefit apartment buyers.

    Homestar version 3 launched in November 2015, with updates specifically to suit higher-density developments. The upgraded tool aims to make it easier for apartment buyers to gauge the health and efficiency of their homes.

    The tool – which awards ratings from 1–10 stars – includes factors specific to multi-home developments:

    • rewarding shared areas such as landscaped areas or playgrounds that promote community activities
    • levels of natural light within apartments
    • efficient heating and air-conditioning
    • use of brownfield sites to minimise urban sprawl.

    Homestar, run by the New Zealand Green Building Council, was launched with industry and government backing in 2010.

    The recent review was supported by principal sponsor Willis Bond & Co and associate sponsor Ockham Residential. Both developers have been piloting the new Homestar. Willis Bond & Co last month became the first project to achieve Homestar ratings across a large-scale development, with 113 homes at Wynyard Central gaining a rating of at least 7.
    Ockham Residential’s new Daisy development in Mt Eden has been appraised as being on track for a 9 Homestar rating.

    Although the scheme goes up to 10 stars, the typical existing New Zealand home rates around 2–3, while a new home built only to Building Code minimum requirements would rate around 4. A Bay of Plenty house designed and built by Tauranga-based Belvedere Group was the first to achieve a 10-star rating, in 2015.

    The Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan includes a 6 Homestar rating as a minimum requirement for developments with multiple homes, a provision now being applied in Auckland’s Special Housing Areas.



    Entries invited for energy efficiency/renewable energy awards

    Entries are open until 5 February 2016 for the EECA Awards 2016.

    The awards recognise excellence in energy efficiency and renewable energy.
    Categories include Small to Medium Energy User, Innovation, Renewable Energy and more.

    Companies in the construction sector or with strong construction industry connections have been commended, highly commended or winners in past awards.

    Finalists will be announced on 16 April 2016 and the winners announced on 18 May.

    You can find more information about the awards here.



    Solar standard update

    A key standard for photovoltaic energy systems has just been updated as a joint AS/NZS standard.

    AS/NZS 4777.2:2015 Grid connection of energy systems via inverters - Part 2: Inverter requirements was published on October 9 2015. The new joint standard replaces AS 4777.2, and makes a number of changes to that standard.

    The document specifies minimum performance and safety requirements for “the design, construction and operation of inverters intended for use in inverter energy systems for the injection of electric power through an electrical installation into the grid.”

    This is an important document for anyone involved in the design, specification or installation of grid-connected photovoltaic systems.

    The new joint standard should be read in conjunction with:

    • the regulations, service and installation rules of the electricity distributor approving the connection
    • AS/NZS 3000:2007 Electrical Installations (also known as The Australian/New Zealand Wiring Rules).



    Solar conference and expo in November

    The SEANZ SolarSMART conference will be held on November 13 and 14 in Rotorua.

    The two-day SEANZ (Sustainable Electricity Association New Zealand) event includes a conference with five streams and an expo involving manufacturers, importers and wholesalers.

    You can get more information here.




    New workplace safety law here

    New workplace safety law here

    The new Health and Safety at Work Act is now law. It comes into force on 4 April 2016 – until then, the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 still applies.

    The new law is part of a package of measures that aims to reduce workplace deaths and injuries by 25% by 2020. All businesses, regardless of size, will need to engage their staff in safety issues. The new law stresses that everyone at work is responsible for health and safety.The Act moves away from general hazard spotting towards managing critical risks – actions that reduce workplace harm rather than trivial hazards. It also moves away from focusing on the physical workplace to how work is actually done. Businesses have to take steps that are “reasonably practicable”. Action will depend on the level of risk involved and what a business can control.Regulations are now being developed to cover risk and workplace management, asbestos, major hazard facilities, and worker participation.



    Construction industry finalists in sustainability awards

    Several companies involved in the construction industry are up for awards at the NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards 2015. Winners will be announced on 24 November.

    The awards have been running for 13 years and recognise sustainability intitatives by individuals, companies, community organisations and public bodies.
    Companies involved in the construction industry from manufacturing through to demolition are among the finalists. They include:

    • Abodo Wood – timber products
    • Solarcity – solar power
    • Laminex New Zealand (Taupo site) – laminates, decorated panels, board products etc.
    • Resene – coatings
    • Smart Hot Water Company – solar hot water
    • CID Resource Recovery – processes waste from construction, demolition and other sources.

    The winners will be announced at the Awards night in Auckland on 24 November.

    You can get more information here.



    Heat pump households want more information

    Householders who install heat pumps are happy with them, but they want more advice about choosing the right size and location.

    BRANZ examined 160 households with heat pumps, making site inspections, conducting interviews, and collecting a year of energy use, temperature and humidity data.

    Over 94% of the householders would recommend a heat pump to friends or family.

    But many said they would have liked more information about:

    • Sizing, location and installation of a heat pump. Over a fifth said that their heat pump was not installed in the best location.
    • The likely running costs. Many said their energy costs had increased. Only 15% described running costs as excellent.
    • Operating instructions. One third said they were not given information on operating or maintaining their heat pump, or found it too difficult to understand.

    The study also uncovered a need for more training for some installers:

    • One third of units were fixed with too little ground clearance.
    • Around 10% of outdoor units were unstable.
    • Gaps around the pipes coming out of the ducting were rarely sealed.
    • In 19% of cases, hoses draining condensation from the indoor unit were directed onto paths, which could make them slippery.

    Study Report SR 329 (2015) Heat Pumps in New Zealand is downloadable from the website



    More renewable energy than ever

    Almost 40% of New Zealand’s primary energy now comes from renewable resources – the highest level on record.

    It is also the third-highest percentage among OECD countries (behind Iceland and Norway).

    The rapid growth of renewable energy is largely accounted for by increasing electricity generation from geothermal sources and reducing generation from coal.

    In fact, 80% of electricity generation in 2014 came from renewable resources, a significant jump from 75% in 2013.

    The use of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels to generate electricity also increased. Installed capacity as of December 2014 was estimated at 16 GWh, more than double the 2013 figure. As a proportion of total renewable energy it is still extremely small, however, at 0.1%.

    The figures come from Energy in New Zealand, the MBIE publication about energy demand, supply and prices. The latest version covers the 2014 calendar year.

    You can get more information here.



    New requirements for insulation in rental housing

    Proposed law changes will make ceiling and underfloor insulation a requirement in rental properties.

    The government is planning to change the Residential Tenancies Act to make insulation compulsory in rental properties. It is expected that the requirement will apply from 1 July 2016 for Housing New Zealand and community housing provider tenancies where tenants pay an income-related rent, and from 1 July 2019 for private rental properties and other types of tenancies.

    A bill will be introduced to Parliament later in 2015 to make the changes. It will also contain other changes, such as a new requirement for smoke alarms in all residential rental properties from 1 July 2016.



    Health and safety law progress

    New workplace health and safety rules are closer to becoming law.

    Some details in the Health and Safety Reform Bill, which sets rules around safety in the workplace, have been changed, but it is on track to being passed into law after being reported back to parliament from select committee in late July. The new law is likely come into force in 2016.

    The new law will require greater worker participation in health and safety plans. Businesses in high risk industries – including small businesses – will need to have elected health and safety representatives, but as of late July the government had not determined exactly which industries would be defined as high risk.



    New guide to tolerances, materials and workmanship

    MBIE has released a new guide to acceptable levels of workmanship in residential construction that could be useful if there is a dispute.

    The Guide to tolerances, materials and workmanship in new residential construction 2015 provides contractors and homeowners with an indication of acceptable levels of workmanship in housebuilding in normal conditions. This will be a key resource if there is a dispute under the consumer protection measures in Part 4A of the Building Act, which came into law earlier this year.

    The guide covers a wide area of homebuilding from roof and wall cladding, doors and windows, to linings, painting, tiling, floor finishes and other internal areas to landscaping and grounds outside.

    It deals largely with the visual appearance of things rather than Building Code compliance.

    You can download the guide from the MBIE website here.



    Putting a price on sustainability

    Do solar hot water systems or higher-spec window frames add financial value to a house? BRANZ is investigating.

    A BRANZ study is looking at how builders, designers, real estate agents, valuers and homebuyers value sustainability and resilience features. Early findings are reported in BRANZ Study Report SR 333 (2015) Valuing sustainability and resilience features in housing.

    Sustainable homes include features such as upgraded window frames and heat transfer kits, but also other elements like closeness to public transport.

    Resilient homes, with features such as more durable building materials, perform well in disasters like flooding, with lower recovery times and costs.

    The research shows that:

    • Homebuyers seldom value sustainability and resilience features over things like a nicer kitchen.
    • Some sustainability features still have a price premium at resale, but less that the installation cost.

    Builders from ten large firms were interviewed across Auckland, Christchurch and Tauranga. They did not generally see their role as giving advice, but as delivering what clients wanted, and few clients asked about sustainability and resilience.

    Real estate agents who were surveyed about solar hot water systems believed on average that these and photovoltaic (PV) systems added $2,500 and $3,200 value to a house respectively. Valuers gave higher average estimates, at $2,400–3,700 for solar hot water and $4,300–6,500 for PV systems.

    The impact of solar hot water on home sale price

    A pilot study looked at 1,031 house sales in Nelson, 13 houses with solar water heating but most without. The price difference, with all else held equal, is the premium for solar hot water.

    Houses with solar hot water had a premium of 1.35% of house value, an average $7,250 per house, although the sample size of these houses was small.

    BRANZ Study Report SR 333 (2015) Valuing sustainability and resilience features in housing can be downloaded here.



    NZ’s first 10-star house

    A Bay of Plenty house will be the first in the country to achieve a 10 Homestar rating.

    Homestar, launched 5 years ago, rates houses from 1–10 for efficiency, health and comfort. Although several hundred homes have been rated, the new 230 m2 Papamoa home is the first to achieve the maximum possible rating of 10.

    Features of the house include:

    • good orientation for the sun
    • underfloor heating uses heat from under the driveway
    • photovoltaic system and solar hot water
    • smart home system that turns on appliances such as dishwasher and washing machine during off-peak periods
    • fully insulated concrete slab edge
    • 140 mm exterior framing for thicker insulation
    • rainwater harvesting and greywater recycling.

    The house is designed and built by Tauranga-based Belvedere Group.

    You can find more information here.



    BRANZ Find

    BRANZ Find is a new free digital search tool covering a wide range of New Zealand building and construction information, linking you straight to that information.

    Links are provided to:

    BRANZ Find


    Green Property Summit presentations available

    Presentations from the Green Property Summit 2015 are now available online.

    The summit, a collaboration between Property Council New Zealand and the New Zealand Green Building Council, was held in Auckland on 26 March 2015.

    Presentation slides that can be viewed online include:

    • An International Perspective on Green Building – Where are we at now? Romilly Madew, Chief Executive, Green Building Council of Australia
    • The SAHMRI Building – Behind the Extraordinary Façade
      Jeffrey Holmes, Director, Woods Bagot, New York
    • Green Building – The New Zealand Picture
      Alex Cutler, Chief Executive, New Zealand Green Building Council
    • Green Property Investment Performance – IPD Green Index Update
      Anthony De Francesco, Executive Director, MSCI Real Estate – IPD
    • Bringing Cities Back to Life: Innovative Urban Regeneration Models
      Nick Ebbs, Vice Chairman, Igloo Regeneration Partnership, UK
    • The Emerging Waterfront
      John Dalzell, Chief Executive, Waterfront Auckland & Mark McGuinness, Managing Director, Willis Bond & Co
    • Performance Art: Analytics and the New Theatre of Design Practice
      Daniel Davis, Senior Researcher, Case, New York

    The next Green Property Summit will be held in March 2017.

    The presentations can be found here.




    Changes to licensing rules

    The Licensed Building Practitioners Scheme will introduce some changes from 2 November 2015.

    The main change is that two existing activities will become compulsory:

    • Reading LBP News (part of MBIE’s Codewords newsletter). The articles will focus on relevant changes in law and technology. There will be a short quiz on the key points.

    • Identifying two examples of on-the-job learning over the 2-year skills cycle. For designers, this may be through using a new or innovative design method. For builders, it may be using a new product or construction method.

    LBPs will still carry out other activities they choose, but the time requirement for these will be cut in half.

    Paul Hobbs, Registrar Building Practitioner Licensing, says the new scheme focuses on quality learning results rather than just compliance or points-gathering. It uses naturally-occurring evidence of learning on the job, not requiring LBPs to seek out relevant learning opportunities.

    One of the big objectives behind the change making the learning material more accessible.  

    LBPs will move into the new scheme on the date of their next 2-yearly skills maintenance anniversary after 2 November 2015.



    Stormwater conference coming

    The first Asia Pacific Stormwater Conference is being held in Auckland on 20–22 May. 

    The conference is being hosted by Water New Zealand, the non-profit body that represents and promotes organisations in New Zealand’s water industry.

    The conference includes local and overseas speakers and a trade exhibition.

    You can find more information here.



    New house condition

    Construction problems in new houses in areas such as energy efficiency and weathertightness are the subject of a BRANZ research project.

    BRANZ will be looking at up to 200 new houses to assess whether there are New Zealand Building Code compliance defects in areas such as energy efficiency, structure or weathertightness. This project aims to quantify the extent of any compliance issues, assess “quality” of construction and to better understand the problems builders face in producing high standard work.

    The first findings have been published. A second report in 2015 will quantify the extent of issues and problems that were found.

    The first report gives a preliminary assessment of workmanship and design issues, based on 38 pre-lining and 23 pre-purchase inspections. Three-quarters of the houses were found to have code con-compliance defects. In the area energy efficiency area, the inspections found that almost all houses had minor gaps or compressed insulation in places, and all houses lacked any insulation at corners of the walls.

    Full details can be found in BRANZ Study Report 316(2014), available here.



    Up-Spec for performance improvements

    BRANZ has a new resource that provides actual cost and return data for performance improvements for new New Zealand homes.

    Up-spec provides specifics on resource savings and costs for higher performance homes in the areas of comfortable temperatures, energy efficiency and water management. Figures are available for nine climate zones: Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin and Invercargill.

    For temperature, options considered are:

    • house orientation
    • ceiling insulation
    • wall insulation
    • windows
    • concrete slab floor.

    For energy efficiency:

    • photovoltaics
    • appliances
    • lighting.

    And for water management:

    • appliances
    • tapware
    • showerheads
    • toilets
    • greywater recycling
    • rainwater tanks.

    The performance upgrades are based on independent research (available on the BRANZ website here) and are region specific where possible. Only the most cost-effective improvements have been selected, based on homes consented in 2012. Figures take inflation and returns into account. The information is based on the most recent information wherever possible and will be updated every 3 years. All figures are estimates and should be seen as starting points for discussions.

    You can find more information here.



    Green Property Summit 2015

    Registrations are open for the 5th Green Property Summit being held in Auckland in March.

    A collaboration between Property Council New Zealand and the New Zealand Green Building Council, the one-day summit has performance as its 2015 theme.

    Speakers include:

    • Jeffrey Holmes (Woods Bagot, New York)
    • Daniel Davis (Case, New York)
    • Nick Ebbs (Igloo Regeneration UK)
    • Romily Madew (GBC Australia)
    • Anthony De Francesco (Investment Property Databank)
    • John Dalzell (Waterfront Auckland).

    The summit is being held in Auckland at the Crowne Plaza on Albert Street on 26 March 2015.


    Passive House Conference

    The South Pacific Passive House Conference and Trade Show is being held in Auckland 14–15 February.

    There will be international and local speakers. Bronwyn Barry, director of One Sky Homes and a member of Passive House California, will give a keynote presentation on “Alta California, Aotearoa and an Amazonian dream of Passive House”.

    Other topics discussed include panellised prefabrication, lowest border of the thermal envelope, optimizing windows and airtightness.

    The winners of the 1st South Pacific Passive House Awards will be announced on 15 February. Prizes will be awarded in categories for architectural merit and cost-effectiveness.

    The venue is Unitec Mt Albert Campus, Building 1, corner Great North Road and Carrington Road, Auckland.

    Find out more here.



    Growing demand for energy efficiency, sun

    The 2014 results for an annual survey of homeowners show a big jump in demand for energy efficiency, more insulation and better orientation for sun.

    The annual Homestar/ survey reflects the opinions of almost 1,000 homeowners. People were asked what home features they think are important when purchasing a home.

    Energy efficient features such as LED lighting and double glazing were rated important or very important by 72%, a massive jump from the 2013 figure of 49%.

    The rating for a high level of insulation jumped to 90% from 82% last year (and 76% the year before).

    Houses orientated to maximise the sun was rated ‘important’ or ‘very important’ by 91%, up from 86% last year.

    Water saving features rated a lowly 37% by comparison, but even this is up from 29% last year.

    Renewable energy such as photovoltaic panels or solar water heating, added to the survey for the first time in 2014, earned ‘important’ or ‘very important’ from 45% of respondents.

    Find out more here.



    ENERGY STAR now covers windows

    Specifying thermally efficient windows that will make homes warmer is now easier with the launch of ENERGY STAR-qualified windows.

    Over 40% of the heat lost in a typical new home is lost through the windows, so improvements in glazing can make a big difference in a house.

    ENERGY STAR-qualified windows perform better than standard aluminium-framed double glazing.

    An ENERGY STAR window will typically have at least one or both of the following feature

    • double glazing (insulating glass units) and a frame with a plastic or resin thermal break in the centre of the aluminium joinery, or a frame that is made from an insulating material such as uPVC or wood. These are less likely to attract condensation and will lose less heat than windows with standard aluminium frames. Standard aluminium frames often attract condensation in winter, even with double glazing.
    • low-emissivity (low-E) glass as one pane of double glazing. Low-E glass lets light and heat in, while reflecting escaping heat back into the room.

    ENERGY STAR qualified windows may also have:

    • spacers made of plastic or stainless steel (instead of aluminium) to separate the glass panes to reduce heat loss and condensation at the glass edge.
    • a gas such as argon between the glass layers. This acts as a better insulator than air, reducing heat loss.

    EECA estimates ENERGY STAR windows will reduce heat loss by more than 18 percent compared with standard windows.

    EECA developed ENERGY STAR-qualified windows in consultation with the Window Association of New Zealand (WANZ) and BRANZ to ensure a technically robust certification process.

    BRANZ Senior Scientist John Burgess says it has been difficult for consumers to understand the technical information about windows. BRANZ research identified how higher-performing windows can be endorsed with ENERGY STAR.

    WANZ Executive Director Stewart Knowles says the association welcomes the introduction of ENERGY STAR-qualified windows because ENERGY STAR is widely recognised as an independent mark of energy efficiency and will encourage homeowners to consider higher-performing windows when renovating or building a new home.


    Environmental product declaration programme launched

    New Zealanders will now be able to find out more about the environmental impact of various building products.

    Environmental product declarations (EPDs) are an independently-verified, science-based declaration of the environmental performance of materials or products.

    The newly-launched Australasian Environmental Product Declaration (EPD®) programme helps construction product manufacturers in New Zealand and Australia develop EPDs.

    The programme is a not-for-profit joint venture between the Life Cycle Association of New Zealand and the Australian Life Cycle Assessment Society.

    Its launch in New Zealand has been supported by the BRANZ Building Research Levy.

    Construction products with EPDs are now gaining credits in green building rating systems around the world.

    Allied Concrete is the first New Zealand company to publish an EPD. Chris Munn, national technical manager, said: “For us, the EPD format was a transparent and smart way to present our product’s environmental profile.

    “As a result of developing our EPD, we can encourage our customers to select different concretes based on environmental considerations as well as structural performance.”

    The Australasian EPD® Programme is aligned with the International EPD® System, one of the world’s longest established and largest EPD programme operators.

    The EPD programme was launched to the construction sector at the Building a Better New Zealand 2014 conference in Auckland in September.



    New building regulations

    The Government has released new building regulations covering the consumer protection measures that come into force on 1 January 2015.

    Available online at the New Zealand Legislation website, the regulations cover:

    •    residential building contracts
    •    disclosure information
    •    checklist
    •    implied terms.

    The disclosure information (in Schedule 1 of the regulations) includes:

    •    information about the building contractor
    •    key contact person
    •    insurance policies
    •    information about any guarantees and warranties.

    The checklist is given in Schedule 2. This must be given to clients if they ask for it, or if the work will cost $30,000 or more (including GST). The checklist is addressed to consumers and gives advice about project structure and management, dealing with building contractors, price and payments, resolving disputes, and other topics.

    Schedule 3 outlines implied terms for residential building contracts. These cover topics such as who obtains building consents and code compliance certificates, variations, payments, dealing with subcontractors, dispute resolution and notices.


    More consumer protection coming

    Significant new rules around residential building work come into effect from 1 January 2015.

    New consumer protection measures that were outlined in the Building Amendment Act 2013 come into force from 1 January 2015.
    The new legislation includes:

    • a requirement to have a written contract for building work over $30,000 (including GST)
    • a requirement to give customers a building checklist as well as information credentials – skills, qualifications, licensing status and so on – for work over $30,000 or if the client asks
    • an automatic 12-month defect repair period when builders will have to fix any defects the customer has pointed out
    • fines for not complying with the law.

    One of the aims of the move is to take away the idea many people have that the building consent authorities (councils) are responsible for the quality of a building, and to place that responsibility more clearly with the builder.

    It also gives consumers more information to help them choose a good builder. At the moment some people believe that builders doing poor quality work can remain in business simply by giving low quotes for work.

    BRANZ will be explaining the new rules, and some other key changes facing the industry, in a seminar – ‘From She’ll Be Right to Build It Right’ – going to 28 centres from mid October to early December. Look for details soon on



    Retirement village to see big energy savings

    A Christchurch retirement village now under construction will use a new clean-burning wood-fuelled boiler that could save 50–70% on fuel costs compared to some traditional boilers. Read more.

    Retirement villages are large users of energy, with 24 hour space heating requirements, and the latest generation of wood-fired central heating technology  offers potentially large operational cost savings to the sector.

    The system to be installed in Nazareth Community of Care village in Christchurch is a fully automated ETA HACK 350kW wood chip boiler with a buffer tank and peak load boiler.

    The project received funding from EECA’s technology demonstration programme.

    The new boiler will be installed in 2015.



    Saving energy in office and retail buildings

    An upcoming BRANZ seminar on the design and operation of low-energy non-residential buildings follows six years of research into the topic.

    The Building Energy End-use Study (BEES) looked at hundreds of offices, shops and other non-residential buildings, examining energy and water use. The BEES seminar will provide information about:

    • opportunities for energy-efficient design in new builds
    • integrating passive solutions in building systems
    • components of energy use (HVAC, lighting etc)
    • targets for the design and operational energy use of the building
    • the importance of energy modelling
    • environmental conditions in non-residential buildings.

    Seminar presenters are:

    • Lynda Amitrano, BRANZ Evaluations and Building Sustainability Manager
    • Andrew Pollard, BRANZ Building Physicist
    • Lee Bint, BRANZ Sustainable Building Scientist.

    The seminar runs between 22 and 30 September, and will be held in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. For more information visit


    2014 Sustainable Housing Summit

    Sustainable Housing Summits are being held in Auckland (25 June) and Christchurch (27 June). Housing affordability is one of the themes.

    Speakers at both events include:

    • Lucinda Hartley, CEO, CoDesign Studio in Melbourne, an urban design consultancy that helps local communities plan and design projects to improve their neighbourhoods
    • Tommy Honey, Dean, Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design
    • Professor Paul Cooper, Director, University of Wollongong Sustainable Buildings Research Centre
    • Dave Strachan, Director, Strachan Group Architects Ltd
    • Michael Bilsborough, Associate Director – Architecture, Aecom Australia Pty Ltd.

    For more details, check out




    A new BRANZ study report looks at the use of prefabrication in buildings. It also quantifies the $5 billion potential for prefabrication work in New Zealand.

    SR 312 (2014), Prefabrication and standardisation potential in buildings, looks at existing use and the potential benefits if uptake was greater.

    The potential for further use of prefabrication and standardisation is analysed by building type and component. This finds that the amount of prefabrication could be increased to more than $5 billion per year, while $2.7 billion of standardisation could occur. These two figures are not additive, as they overlap, but this indicates that the overall S&P potential is somewhere between $5 billion and $7.7 billion.

    The report is available for free download here.


    Rental housing WOF trial results in

    The results of a ‘warrant of fitness’ field trial of 140 rental properties have been released.

    The trial aimed to test whether draft WOF checklists and methodologies were practical for landlords, assessors and tenants. Home assessment experts visited more than 140 rental properties in Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin earlier this year. The trial involved councils, the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), New Zealand Green Building Council and the University of Otago, Wellington.

    The trial tested a range of criteria that could potentially be included in a housing WOF. The checklist looked at 31 items from weathertightness and insulation to ventilation, lighting, heating, condition of appliances and general building safety. Both detached houses and apartments were included, construction ages ranged from 1880s to less than 10 years old. The average time taken to inspect each property was 51 minutes.

    Some key findings:

    • Around 94% of the homes inspected in the field trial did not pass at least one checklist criteria, but the majority of houses ‘failed’ on only a handful of checklist items.
    • 36% of the homes would pass all of the draft WOF criteria with relatively minor fixes (around $50–$150 worth of materials/hardware).
    • 40% of houses did not pass the water temperature check.
    • 30% of bedrooms did not have a working smoke alarm within 3 metres of the bedroom.

The partners in the project aim to finalise checklists and methodologies, investigate steps for introducing a voluntary WOF scheme and continue discussions with central government on one WOF tool for New Zealand.



    Zero energy house

    In Auckland a ‘zero energy house’ that incorporates a host of sustainable construction techniques has shown great performance in thermal comfort.

    Temperatures inside last winter were significantly higher than outside – inside it was a comfortable 19.6° while the average outside temperature was 11.2°. There were also much lower temperature fluctuation inside, of just 9° compared to the outside variation of 17°.

    These impressive results were achieved by heating the home passively with solar energy from the sun warming the concrete slab.

    The house has a highly thermally-efficient building envelope with a double layer of insulation and high-performance glazing.

    Measurements of water and energy use will be released as they become available. Read more.


    Updated picture of energy use

    An updated database of New Zealand energy use is now available, covering households and other sectors and including renewables such as solar and geothermal.

    EECA (The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority) has updated the Energy End Use Database, giving breakdowns of energy use across the country. The database contains estimates of energy use by sector, technology, end use, and fuel type. The data is for calendar year 2012.

    The interface allows a range of search options at different levels of detail. Regional and local area filters are currently being developed and will be made available in future.

The database will be useful to researchers, central and local government planners and the private sector. EECA uses the database in its own energy efficiency programmes.

    A summary report can be downloaded as an Excel spreadsheet here.

    The Energy End Use Database draws from sources that include MBIE's Energy in NZ and Statistics NZ's NZ Energy Use Survey.


    Solar water heating

    A Consumer NZ report highlights some of the challenges facing solar water heating, but also points out where using solar makes sense.

    Read more.


    Little Greenie

    One of New Zealand’s most energy efficient houses has an annual water heating bill of just $41.

    A Golden Bay house called Little Greenie is one of New Zealand’s most energy efficient houses. After it was built in 2008/09 it scored 9 out of 10 stars in a Home Energy Rating Report (HERS) from EECA, with a 10/10 score for water heating.

    Among its design and construction features:

    • Polystyrene was placed under the whole floor and footings, creating a thermal break. No foundation or floor concrete touches the ground.
    • Overlapping layers of wool insulation give almost twice the thermal performance of standard house insulation: R 7.4 in the roof and R 5.1 in the walls.
    • Glazing in doors and windows is with argon-filled, thermally broken, Low-E insulated glazing units.
    • Underfloor heating comes from a solar water heating system.
    • The whole house is angled within 15º north for maximum exposure to the sun.
    • Half-adobe internal walls provide passive storage of heat.

    You can read more about it here.


    Building a Better NZ September conference

    An Auckland conference in September will look at policy, planning and design, construction, maintenance, refurbishment, reuse or deconstruction of buildings. Read more

    The Building a Better NZ conference will bring together a wide range of industry stakeholders including researchers, industry leaders, policy makers, innovators, designers and manufacturers to focus on research findings and case studies of best practice.

    Aligned strongly with the New Zealand Building Research Strategy, the conference will bring together local and international speakers to share their knowledge and insights on innovative, high performance and low impact approaches to developing, maintaining and retrofitting the built environment.

    The conference will be held 3–5 September at the Rendezvous Grand Hotel in downtown Auckland.

    You can read more about it here.


    BRANZ launches new maintenance tool

    BRANZ has launched a new online tool that will help homeowners keep their homes in better condition and provide benefits for builders too.

    The BRANZ Maintenance Schedule is a brand-new web-based tool that:

    • records in one place all the materials used in a building
    • gives homeowners a comprehensive maintenance guide
    • helps manage builders’ legal liability if anything goes wrong.

    Enter the materials and finishes used and the tool automatically enters the maintenance required. A copy can be printed for clients, and another copy added to a builder’s records.

    Lack of maintenance can bring expensive problems, and these can result in legal challenges. With a maintenance schedule, clients know how to keep their property in top condition and builders have an easy-access record, potentially saving time and money with warranty claims, or if an owner plans future extensions or modifications.

    The tool may also help meet compliance with legal obligations as the government moves to require builders to give clients more information.

    You can read more about it here.



    Changes to acceptable solutions and verification methods.

    Changes to 28 acceptable solutions and 10 verification methods for showing Building Code compliance come into force from 1 January 2017.

    There is a transition period: from 1 January–30 May 2017 you can use either the existing or the new acceptable solution or verification method. From 31 May the new documents must be used.

    There is one exception: the transition period for D2/AS1 is extended to 6 August 2017. From 7 August 2017, only the Amendment 7 version of D2/AS1 can be used as an acceptable solution.

    The proposed acceptable solutions E2/AS4 Torch-on Membrane Systems for Roofs and Decks and E3/AS2 Internal Wet Area Membranes are still being worked on and have not been published yet.

    You can find more information here.