Sustainable NZ homes eco bach shows way forward

Issue 28 – June 2011

Warm dry homes needn't be a luxury – it is possible to build houses that are not only stylish, energy efficient, and cheap to run, but are also affordable, says Mike Underhill, Chief Executive of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA). 'The Meridian First Light eco-house project ­– led by a team from Victoria University – is an opportunity to see what is possible to achieve in sustainable housing, using the latest technology and design', says Underhill.

'This prototype should inspire New Zealanders to think about the kinds of energy efficiency investments they can make when building or renovating that will make a difference to their on-going energy bills, and their impact on the environment.

'Constructing a house like this, which can be taken apart and shipped across the world and reassembled, is a hugely ambitious project. The First Light team deserve to be congratulated for their hard work and commitment.'

The 'eco-bach' was temporarily on public display at Frank Kitts Park on Wellington's waterfront before being shipped to Washington DC to take part in the US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon later this year.

Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) helped to sponsor the project because it incorporates many of the energy efficiency elements that EECA promotes, including high levels of insulation, energy efficient appliances and lighting, smart building design, solar water heating, and renewable energy, Mr Underhill said.

'Many homes in New Zealand waste energy due to poor design, inadequate insulation, and inefficient heating and appliances', says Underhill. 'For example, around 800,000 New Zealand homes are estimated to have substandard insulation, which costs homeowners much more to heat their houses, as well as being linked to respiratory illness.'

Visit the Meridian First Light house website (http://firstlighthouse.ac.nz) for more information.

Summarised with permission from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA).

Published in energy.