The passive house concept has been igniting a flame in New Zealand and all of a sudden the fire is beginning to spread.
Pro Clima NZ Ltd’s national sales manager, Simon Gibbon, is an avid supporter of the passive house building standard and says our attitudes are definitely changing in regards to house performance.
“It took five years of persistence to break through a wall of misunderstandings about airtightness, ignorance to the application of basic physics to buildings, and attitudes of the industry against anything beyond building code minimums,” he explains.
“The building code requirements for performance are not a target. They are the lowest legal minimums. If your aim is at the minimum, what happens if you miss?”
Missing is not an option when building a certified passive house. These buildings are not light years away from building code standards, but are the pinnacle of house performance and energy efficiency.
They do this by minimising heat loss and optimising passive heat gains. This is achieved by using airtight materials together with a ventilation system, or more specifically a heat recovery ventilation system, slightly thicker insulation and high-performance windows.
One benefit of living in a certified passive house is having virtually no heating or cooling bills.
“Each passive house is designed for the specific climate it will sit in,” Simon explains. “This governs the insulation thickness, the window performance and the shading to prevent overheating. All passive houses must prevent air movement through the walls, floor and ceiling.”
And that’s where Pro Clima comes in.
Pro Clima has products to assist in achieving the airtightness requirement whether you are working with structurally insulated panels, cross-laminated timber, masonry, straw-bale, rammed earth or the more traditional timber framed construction.
“Thankfully we now have plenty of designers targeting airtightness – using a wide range of building materials including our smart vapour retarder ‘INTELLO’.
“INTELLO is recognised internationally as a certified passive house component, making it easy to incorporate in any certified passive house project.
Pro Clima is also the distributor of the Minneapolis Blower Doors – “this is the tool to measure how airtight the building is.” Simon clarifies, “it’s the only on-site verification and the builder’s way to check if they have met the requirement for passive house certification.
“It’s a good feeling to be at the cutting edge of creating healthy buildings for New Zealanders.”
With the constant stream of information from PHINZ coupled with the overwhelming evidence supporting certified passive houses in New Zealand, Simon believes it is just a matter of time before the New Zealand Building Code steps up to the plate.
“Australia is taking the first step in Australasia with the introduction of a measured airtightness standard coming in as part of their building code in 2019. We would hope NZ won’t be too far behind, but we don’t need to wait for legislation to start improving buildings right now.”
Simon, for one, is putting his money where his mouth is and is very much looking forward to the upcoming, colder months.
“I have just built my own passive house here in Christchurch which is soon to be certified. For the first time in my life I’m looking forward to a winter, and I expect to get through it with healthy kids. Strange feeling!”
The Passive House Institute of New Zealand
The passive house institute is an incorporated charitable trust that, using extensive research, is ultimately educating New Zealanders about improved health and energy efficiency within our buildings, as well as promoting the passive house standard. Their website boasts a list of passive house professionals, resources and all the latest news and information surrounding this concept.
For more information go to: www.phinz.org.nz