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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sustainable building

Level is a website created by BRANZ (Building Research Association of New Zealand) for the construction industry. The focus of the site is sustainable building.

Although aimed at designers and builders, it can easily be used by anyone looking at having a new house built. Each of the pages described below has a great deal of information. Even if rebuilding is not going to be possible, the information provides useful ideas for assessing the suitability of any existing home you might look at.

The website (here) consists of pages dedicated to:

Site Analysis: "Understanding the site is the first step towards designing or substantially renovating a house that will minimise its impact on the environment, minimise the use of resources and be comfortable and healthier to live in."
  • Looks at climate, hazards, weather, services and infrastructure, site conditions, landscape, culture and heritage.
Site Use: "The positioning of a house on a site is a crucial part of the preliminary design of the building project."
  • Looks at legal requirements (Resource Management Act, District Plan), positioning of house, location of other structures and features.
Passive Design: "Passive design is the key to sustainable building."
  • Looks at building location and orientation on the site; building layout; window design; insulation (including window insulation); thermal mass; shading; and ventilation.
Water: "By minimising water use, and making good materials choices, you can reduce running costs, cut demand on community infrastructure, and reduce harm to the environment."
  • Looks at water supply, water use, handling waste water, and suitable appliances.
Material Use: "Building materials account for about half of all material use worldwide and about half the solid waste generated."
  • Looks at construction systems, choice of materials, minimizing waste, quantifying the environmental impact of the materials that might be used.
Energy: "A typical New Zealand home consumes 10,500 kWh of energy per year. "
  • Looks at heating, cooling, lighting, electrical design, ventilation, and the choice of appliances.
Wet Areas: "... the rooms or spaces containing sanitary fixtures and appliances – including bathrooms and en suites, toilets, laundries, kitchens, entries and garages."
  • Looks at statutory requirements, wet area design, structure and materials.
The website is here. For information on Homestar, "... a New Zealand home rating and advisory tool that examines a broad range of home performance and resource consumption-related issues and is applicable to both new and existing homes." click here.
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